I have read too many stories to be shocked by most of them anymore. But the first volume of Sleepless subverted my expectations in such a way that I feel compelled to recommend it to you, dear reader, so that you also can spend ten minutes flipping back and forth between Sleepless‘s final pages, your jaw hanging agape at what has just occurred.
I will not spoil Sleepless Vol. 1’s ending in this review, because I think you should feel that ending’s power for yourself. But I will talk about how Sleepless builds to that ending in ways that both set it up and make it surprising, paying off the book’s main points of tension.
When we lived in South Korea, it seemed like every couple there was matchy-matchy. That is, they wore coordinated or straight-up matching outfits whenever they went out together. Matchy-matchy is not and never has been Kat and my’s style. The closest we’ve come to purposely wearing matching outfits has been at weddings (coordinated dresses and ties) and mud runs (where there is often a theme).
Atomic Robo is one of the relatively few comics that has managed to stay good across decades-worth of stories. I highly recommend you read it all. But there is one volume of Atomic Robo that, to me, stands head and shoulders above the rest, because it includes one extra element that no other Robo story has.
Over the course of the past two months, most of the comic shops near me have reopened. Despite my intense desire to scope out the Twin Cities nerd scene, I did not immediately rush out to buy print comics when shops began reopening. I was jobless for three months this spring, and my wife and I still have a few big purchases to make as a result of our cross-country move. While we are doing absolutely fine and are quite well-off considering others’ situations, rushing back into a just-reopened comic shop and buying all the things felt irresponsible to me.
So I waited, until I’d received enough paychecks that I figured I could drop some money on comics. And while I waited, I thought about what I was going to buy. A lot of trades and series and OGNs floated through my mind, but as the day I was actually, finally going to get to go to a comic shop, have a look around, and buy some comics approached, only one title felt right to purchase:
When I told my wife I was planning to buy a mess of Batman comics, she rolled her eyes at me and said, “Of course you are.” This statement both does not give me enough credit for expanding my comics palette over the last eleven years, and is also extremely correct. Because when given the chance to actually enter a comic shop for the first time since we moved to Minnesota, I decided that what I really wanted was some comfort food. Something that would make the next few hours spent reading at home feel normal, exciting, and wonderful in a way that most things don’t right now. If you’ve been binging old favorites on Netflix or from your bookshelf to get through the tougher days of this pandemic, then you know why I bought Batman.
I had planned to read just the first couple of the ten issues I bought and save the rest for a camping trip I have coming up. I read all ten issues within a few hours. I will read them again on the camping trip, to catch the things I missed because I was reading too quickly. I may have started reading them again while I was writing this paragraph. I can tell you without hestitation that Batman is good right now. Which makes at least one thing that is good right now.
That feeling, that at least something is good right now, is all I wanted out of my first visit to a Twin Cities comic shop. So I consider my first mid-pandemic comics run to be a success. Next time, I likely won’t buy just Batman – but I most certainly will still be buying Batman.