So I recently burned through Ed Brubaker’s *ahem* slept-on Wildstorm superpowered spy series, Sleeper. It has all the great plot twists and shoot-em-up action of say, Milligan’s Human Target and the high-wire tension of films like Infernal Affairs. Sleeper follows deep cover agent Holden Carver who’s been rising through the ranks of an international criminal organization to determine its ultimate plans. Placed by International Operations’ (I/O) chief, John Lynch (the Nick-Fury-also-ran you may remember from Gen13), Carver is slowly gaining the trust and attention of the organization’s leader Tao (the test-tube-baby that became a super-genius villain in Alan Moore’s WildCATS run). On the cusp of entering Tao’s inner circle and having access to his plans, all knowledge of Carver’s deep cover status gets lost after Lynch is shot in the head and goes into a coma. And the mastermind behind Lynch’s attempted assasination is, of course Tao– casting doubt as to how good Carver’s cover really is.
As far as the government and his former fiance is concerned, during Carver’s last I/O mission, he betrayed his country and stole the alien artifact he was sent to retrieve.This artifact bonded to Carver’s body (killing his teammates in the process) making him a sort of pain-battery. He’s not invulnerable but he doesn’t feel pain, and can actually absorb it and retransmit it to others by touch. And while he’s doing all the dirty work to gain the trust of his villainous overseer, Carver gets intwined with one of Tao’s other enforcers, Miss Misery a chain-smoking redhead who gets physically stronger for every bad thing that she does.
Overall, Sleeper is a sharply paced and entertaining whiplash of a story with some cleverly conceived superpowers placed on some deeply desperate and conflicted characters. The story begs to be adapted for the big screen, it clearly draws on a lot of cinematic pulp and TV influences, even titling the two 12 issue runs as “Season 1” and “Season 2.” Enter buzzkill via The Hollywood Reporter: Tom Cruise set to star in Raimi-adapted film of Sleeper. And aside from Tom Cruise being a loon, Sam Raimi really isn’t that good a director. I love the Evil Dead stuff as much as the next geek but those Spidey films stank. There were some decent performances but overall Raimi’s strengths lie in humor (and awkwardly shoehorning in 9-11 flag-waving), but he’s pretty dull when it comes to actually shooting an action sequence and only so-so at handling the romance and drama.
And I really, really, really don’t want to see Cruise in this movie– we’ve seen him do various (the same) interpolations of his shark-grinned super spy hanging off buildings, cliffs, trains Anthony Edward’s nipples, motorcycles, etc… For the record, I didn’t need to know he was a batshit Scientological believer in alien lava souls to dislike his acting, I just needed Cocktail. If Cruise opts to take the more challenging and off-type role of say, Tao maybe this movie has hope but, if he predictably takes the lead as Holden Carver… I’d say stick a fork in it, this turkey is done for.
Meanwhile, in a CBR interview Brubaker mentioned he’d like to see Cate Blanchett take the role of Miss Misery, while the Scotsman blogging over at Bad Librarianship, says Sleeper artist Sean Phillips favors, “Rachel Weisz, but… ‘they’re all too skinny.'” I think Blanchett would be interesting and Weisz could certainly pull off a damn flinty stare, but Mad Men ‘s zaftig bombshell Christina Hendricks would be my pick. I mean sure, Blanchett has got a whiff of Veronica Lake as Brubaker pointed out, but Hendricks has a lock on noir-apropo smoldering sass and not to get too crude, but she is like damn! And ka-pow! By that I mean, the sound of your girlfriend slapping you for ogling AMC’s Emmy-nominated original series just a little too much. In addition to being a fine actress, she’s a handsome lady is alls I’m saying.