Writer: Paul Cornell
Art: Enid Bakím, Lee Townsend, Ruth Redmond, VC’s Cory Petit, and Steve Morris
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Release Date: September 28th, 2022
The Wild Card virus had many various bizarre effects. However, very few were as nonnative as those on Croyd Crenson, A.K.A. the Sleeper. The transformation of George R.R. Martin’s super-charged alternative, historical-fiction narrative resumes in this week’s Wild Cards: Drawing of Cards #3 by Paul Cornell. Let’s dive in as Cornell continues to acclimate the first appearance of everyone’s fan-favorite character created by the one and only Roger Zelazny.
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Cornell uses Wild Cards: Drawing of Cards #3 as a focus issue. He slows down the overall premise and takes a deep dive directly into one character in particular named Croyd Crenson. For those a bit confused as to who and what Croyd is, let me explain. Croyd Crenson becomes known as the Sleeper in this Wild Card World. Sleeper is a boy that ultimately turned into a man who changes every time he rests. Every time he wakes up, he’s endowed with a fresh formation and new abilities. Occasionally, he’s a mighty Ace. Yet other times he’s an unfortunate Joker.
Nevertheless, Croyd peddles his abilities as an Ace for hire and eventually becomes extremely well-known in New York City. While he is not necessarily a bad guy, the Sleeper eventually finds himself addicted to amphetamines and prone to violent outbursts when removed from his drug addiction. Croyd became a Wild Card from the very beginning and he has been the sensation ever since.
So, I found myself confused as to why the slowdown happened, and why the focus was on the Sleeper. For those who don’t have any background on Wild Cards, there are dozens (if not more) characters to choose from. And instead of giving readers a variety of different ones to look at, the focus was on Sleeper. Granted, he is the first character introduced and described with the virus. Patient ground zero if you will. But I guess I just wonder why the emphasis turned to him after the pacing moved so dang fast before. I guess I was expecting a quick overview of a bunch of different characters in this issue. Why not talk about the Four Aces? Maybe a focus on the Astronomer, Fortunato, or Puppetman as well? See a bunch of beginnings all at once. There are specific avenues Cornell could have gone down and the about-face involving the speed seemed out of character from the prior installments of Wild Cards: Drawing of Cards.
Now, it sounds like I’m upset that the focus was on the Sleeper and that the tone and pacing switched. Well, I’m not as much upset as I am just shocked. Shocked by the choice of character focus as well as the dynamic shift. Nevertheless, what would Wild Cards be without Sleeper? He’s definitely a cog in the series being one of the essential characters in many volumes. So, I was definitely glad to see him introduced. But I suppose the transition by Cornell shows signs that this series might be here to stay for quite some time.
You see, my initial thought was we were simply getting an overhead few and Marvel would see where the cards fell (see what I did there) after checking out the numbers afterward. However, after this style transition, I wonder if the series has the green light to pump out more than 12 issues which could be why Cornell changed his tactic and delivery a bit.
Enid Bakím and Lee Townsend jump on board this issue of Wild Cards: Drawing of Cards #3 providing readers with more of a cartoony style than the initial installments. It’s not necessarily a bad thing. However, this could also be what came across as a bit more jarring along with the pacing and focus change.
The coloring still places this issue in the 40s by providing fans with more dark, dull tones instead of bright and vibrant colors. However, the zany, explosive, and utterly weird that’s cluttered the comics with nonstop action (like issue two was), is nonexistent. The illustrations aren’t bad… just more calm and set a mood of desperation and fear. Plus, with the emphasis on Sleeper and his first transformation, it leaves the issue less volatile and energetic, which again isn’t a bad thing… just not like the prior two installments and tempered by expectations.
What would Wild Cards be without Sleeper? Long-time fans know the answer to that question while new recruits get a glimpse at exactly what transpired after the virus spread through the beginning journey of one Croyd Crenson. And, as much as I wish we got to see more characters, I feel this focus was necessary to give new readers a quick snapshot as to the effects the virus has in this world. Even Aces may have good powers but an appearance that’s hit or miss.
Wild Cards: Drawing of Cards #3 by Paul Cornell provided insight through the eyes of o vital cog and fan favorite to many diehard fans. The only real knock I can give this issue is the drastic change in tempo may have deterred newer fans that were expecting even more of an info dump coupled with even more action like the prior installments of Wild Cards: Drawing of Cards. Yet, longtime fans of the series will gravitate towards this issue simply to see how Cornell and his team do with the portrayal of the Sleeper. If you’re a Wild Cards fan, I highly recommend picking up this series. And if you’re new to Wild Cards, please hang in there. Cornell has a ton of material to work in. I don’t even think 100 issues would be enough to accurately articulate all that is in the many volumes by George R.R. Martin. Just trust the process! Let me know what you think, have a great week, and God Bless!