|First appearance||Tales of Suspense #72 (December 1965)|
|Created by||Stan Lee (writer)|
Jack Kirby (artist)
|Team affiliations||Skeleton Crew|
|Notable aliases||SL-4, the Fourth Sleeper|
The Sleepers is the name of several fictional characters appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. The Sleepers are depicted as five destructive robots created by the Red Skull.
The Sleepers were five doomsday robots designed in Berlin by Nazi Germany as agents of destruction. After World War II, the Fourth Sleeper was entombed within a crypt that was sunk into the sea. The first three robots were activated by agents at a certain time in European villages, consisting of a giant human-like robot with blaster rays, a winged robot, and the 'brain', which resembled the Red Skull and was a powerful bomb. Despite Captain America and the personnel of a nearby U.S. Army base's attempts to stop them, the robots combined and flew towards the North Pole. While in pursuit with the military, Captain America surmises that the first Sleeper would use its blasts to dig into the ice, enabling the robot to travel into the Earth and explode, destroying the world, as the Red Skull had vowed that if he could not conquer the world, he would destroy it. To prevent this, Captain America is able to board the combined vehicle in midair and detonate the bomb early with a flamethrower, destroying the three Sleepers. The crypt containing the Fourth Sleeper was retrieved from the sea in modern times, and when the Sleeper reactivated it destroyed a seacoast smelting factory and battled Captain America. The Sleeper was ultimately rendered intangible by a "sonic crystal". Similarly, the Red Skull later activated the Fifth Sleeper, only to have it stopped by Captain America and the Falcon as well.
The Fourth Sleeper was later restored to tangibility by the Machinesmith and was used as a "Trojan horse" to gain entrance onto Avengers Island in order to liberate the various robots incarcerated there. It was thwarted by Captain America, and badly damaged.
The damage done to the Fourth Sleeper was later repaired by the Machinesmith. The Fourth Sleeper was animated by the Machinesmith to join the Skeleton Crew in search of the missing Red Skull. It battled Hellfire Club mercenaries, and the Black Queen. Replicas of the five Sleeper robots were then pitted against Captain America and Diamondback.
The Fourth Sleeper's robotic materials, design, and construction provide it with superhuman strength, stamina, durability, and reflexes. It possesses a limited artificial intelligence, with a capacity for limited self-motivated activity. The Fourth Sleeper is programmed to be moderately proficient at hand-to-hand combat. The Fourth Sleeper has repulsor-ray blasters mounted in its eyesockets.
Originally, the Fourth Sleeper could alter its density from its natural tempered steel form to total intangibility. The circuits that controlled this function have burned out and have not been replaced. The vibration of a certain "sonic crystal" caused the Fourth Sleeper's intangibility control to malfunction. The Fourth Sleeper originally could also generate "volcanic" thermal energy and project it through its faceplate. This function has also apparently been eradicated.
The Sleeper appears in Captain America: Super Soldier. It was discovered during the Middle Ages by Heller Zemo. Though they did not understand what the Sleeper was, Heller and his men realized it was something important and built Castle Zemo around its resting place. Hundreds of years later, during World War II, Heller's descendant Heinrich Zemo acquired the castle, believing he was destined to awaken the Sleeper and use it to help him in his plans for world conquest. However, he formed an alliance with HYDRA commander Johann Schmidt, who ousted Heinrich and occupied Castle Zemo so his top scientist Arnim Zola could study the Sleeper for HYDRA's purposes. In 1944, the castle was infiltrated by Captain America and the Invaders, who successfully destroyed the Sleeper after it was activated.