Classification: Terrestrial technology

Creator: Red Skull (Johann Shmidt), unidentified Nazi scientists

User/Possessors: Red Skull, Nazi agents (including Lars Schlag, Martinus von Kimmer, Kerta Wolfmann)

First Appearance: Tales of Suspense I#72/2 (December, 1965)

Powers/Abilities/Functions: The first three Sleeper robots were built by the Nazi Third Reich as a way to avenge its defeat decades later. These three robots operated independently, and then linked up with each other to combine their powers -- they were apparently pre-programmed to cause world-wide destruction.

First Sleeper - A walking juggernaut, the First Sleeper could easily smash through structures, and it survived a landslide unscathed. It could fire destructive electric-bolt force rays from its hand-electrodes. Its clear domed "head" was made from a form of shatterproof plexiglass.

It eventually linked itself with the Second Sleeper, and thereby gained the power of flight.

It had been dormant in a cave near the Bavarian village of Gortmund, until it was activated by Martinus von Kimmer and his underlings.

Second Sleeper - A bat-like flying robot, the Second Sleeper emitted a tractor-beam force from its twin horns which could uproot trees and tear the walls and roofs from houses.

It later rendezvoused with the First Sleeper and attracted the walking robot to its underside.

It had been buried in an underground chamber near the German town of Telbeck, until it was activated by Kerta Wolfmann and her henchmen.

Third Sleeper - The "brain" of the grouping, the skull-shaped Third Sleeper flew via high-pressure air-fans, and it housed a powerful bomb.

Immediately after its activation, it rendezvoused with the conjoined First and Second Sleepers, then anchored itself to a mechanical cradle atop the Second Sleeper.

It had been dormant in the German town of Molnitz, beneath a statue of General Frederick von Uberholtz, until it was activated by Lars Schlag.

(Captain America Annual I#13/1) - In April of 1945, within Adolf Hitler's underground bunker, in the besieged heart of a mortally-wounded Third Reich, Hitler discussed with Red Skull the impending defeat of the Third Reich and "Der Tag" ("The Day"), a scheme for revenge that included the five Sleepers. Hitler entrusted a strongbox to the Red Skull.

   Red Skull took Hitler's strongbox and relocated to his own bunker, which was being invaded by Captain America (Steve Rogers), Patriot (Jeff Mace), Spirit of '76 and Red Guardian.

(Tales of Suspense I#72/2 (fb)/Captain America Annual I#13/1 (fb)) - During an Allied bombing raid on Germany, Captain America confronted the Red Skull in his bunker. The Skull told Cap that even though the Nazi regime was doomed to fall, the Third Reich would be reborn on "Der Tag," when three Nazi agents would begin to release the Sleepers that were hidden in Germany. Captain America managed to grab a strongbox containing information on the Nazi agents just as a bomb completely buried the Red Skull's bunker (see comments).

(Captain America Annual I#13/1 (fb)) - As a result of the bombing of the Red Skull's bunker, Hitler's strongbox was lost in the rubble -- years later, it was found and the Communist Red Skull (Albert Malik) eventually acquired it.

(Tales of Suspense I#72/2) - Decades later, when the date of "Der Tag" arrived, Agent One (Martinus von Kimmer) and a band of underlings released the First Sleeper from a cave in Bavaria. The robot went on a rampage across the countryside of Gortmund -- having been forewarned, Captain America went to investigate.

(Tales of Suspense I#73/2) - Agent Two (Kerta Wolfmann) and a team of diggers released the Second Sleeper from the underground chamber in which it had been buried. The Second Sleeper caused a path of destruction as it flew over Telbeck, then went to rendezvous with the First Sleeper. The two Sleepers linked up and combined their powers.

(Tales of Suspense I#74/2) - As the two conjoined Sleepers battled with NATO forces and continued their wave of devastation, Agent Three (Lars Schlag) released the Third Sleeper in Molnitz. The Third Sleeper immediately linked up with the other two, and the combination of all three Sleepers continued on a northward course.

   Captain America theorized that the combined Sleepers would fly to the North Pole, then go into a death dive, with the First Sleeper blasting a path virtually down to the Earth's core; he further speculated that the interior heat of the Earth would cause the bomb in the Third Sleeper to ignite, setting off an endless chain of thermal explosions which would tear the planet apart.

   Determined to put an end to the three robots before they carried out their deadly programming, Captain America jumped out of a pursuing jet and landed on the Sleepers; he then attached an activated flame-thrower to the Third Sleeper before parachuting away -- the flame-thrower's heat set off the bomb in the Third Sleeper, destroying all three robots in the process.

(Captain America I#370) - Human-scaled replicas of the first three Sleepers (alongside the Fourth and Fifth) were kept in the Red Skull's trophy room at Skullhouse. When Captain America and Diamondback (Rachel Leighton) invaded Skullhouse in search of the Red Skull, Machinesmith activated the replicas to battle them, but all the duplicates were easily destroyed by the duo.

Comments: Created by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, and George Tuska.

In the original stories (published in 1965), all references to the Sleepers being activated "twenty years after World War II" are topical.

The first three Sleepers would later be followed by the Fourth Sleeper (a "living volcano", later utilized by Machinesmith) and the Fifth Sleeper (a walking juggernaut that sprayed poison gas).

Purely speculative, but given the fact that Hitler was still "alive" at the time (see the Hate-Monger), the actual purpose of the Sleepers may not have been to destroy the world. Perhaps all five were meant to be activated simultaneously to mount an attack on Allied forces and cause world-wide havoc while Hitler amassed an army (including the Exiles, and possibly utilizing the Death's Head Satellite [the Sixth Sleeper?]) to establish a Fourth Reich; but thankfully, Captain America's timely intervention threw a monkey wrench into the machinations of the mad Führer.

One small temporal discrepancy from Saga of the Original Human Torch#2. That story has a scene in which the Invaders are told that President Roosevelt had died that morning. Colonel Farrow then assigned Captain America and Bucky to guard a top-secret drone plane at the airbase just south of London, and later told the Human Torch and Toro that he had a few minor missions for them and then, in a week or so, they would be going to Berlin to try to capture Adolf Hitler alive. Since FDR died on April 12th and the Berlin mission didn't take place until April 30th, there was obviously a greater delay than Farrow had anticipated. Also, the story in Captain America Annual I#13 depicts Cap's mission to invade the Red Skull's bunker and retrieve Hitler's top-secret strongbox. During that mission, Cap mentions that the Human Torch and Toro are (or will be) handling the invasion of Hitler's bunker. Later, once his mission is completed, Cap mentions that he and Bucky "have to guard an airdrome back in England." If Cap's mission took place on the same night as (or just before) the Human Torch's mission, then he was only BACK guarding the drone plane for a few days before his fateful encounter with Baron Zemo (who had been sent to Britain by the Red Skull before the Skull's apparent death).
--Don Campbell

It turned out Tara was one of the Red Skull's Sleepers who was designed to activate in the presence of the original Invaders (Cap, Torch, and Namor). And when Cap turned up to put the kibosh on the USAgent (who had ditched the Judge Dredd rig he was wearing in Maximum Security in favor of a modified Cap suit), Tara turned into a big bomb.
In Captain America I#148 the Red Skull revealed (and I quote) "the fifth and final Sleeper." Do I remember them from TOS? Back in WWII, during their last battle, the Skull warned Captain America of "three Sleepers," not six, three. The first three assembled their component parts, and on Earth-J, that counts as "one". Maybe the Skull "changed the numbering" in order to take Cap by surprise at a later date (Captain America I#101 and #148). If you buy that, the "Fourth Sleeper" was actually the second and the "Fifth Sleeper" was actually the third, but now there's another one!?
--John McDonagh

Info by Ron Flick on Captain America Annual I#13:

In the original version, Cap evidently removed the strongbox and took it with him. Decades later, he pulled out and opened the box, which he somehow had kept, revealing the contents to be the plans for the unleashing of the Sleepers. In Captain America Annual I#13 Cap did not leave with the box, but rather, it is the subject of a decades-long hunt; the contents of that box are also revealed to be something altogether different -- that is, personal mementos from Hitler's early life.
  It seems that the second version of the Hitler strongbox story was necessary in order to negate the problems associated with the original version. It doesn't make much sense that Cap could have kept the box "all these years" when, in fact, he was frozen only days after his battle with the Red Skull and for decades he lay in a frozen tomb. Cap did manage to locate some personal belongings from his war years, sometime soon after his modern-day resurrection, however. In Tales of Suspense I#75, he is shown longingly looking at a photograph of his first love, the woman later identified as Peggy Carter. One could argue that the strongbox was kept with this photograph and other memorabilia during the lost years.
  Years after his return, Cap was also able to retrieve an old army footlocker, which contained a number of other personal belongings from the war, including his original shield and his war journal. This was shown in Captain America I#246.
  If, in fact, the strongbox was not in Captain America's possession during this time, then some other explanation would have to be made to explain the box shown in the first Sleeper story in Tales of Suspense.

My guess is that there were always two separate strongboxes -- the Hitler box was lost until the Communist Red Skull eventually found it, while the Sleeper box was stored with some of Cap's personal mementos, until they were returned to him after his revival in the modern era.

And the coloring of the Sleepers was inconsistent from issue to issue -- I'll attribute that to battle-damage from all the missiles and explosives the military used against the robots.. --Ron Fredricks
  Hitler and Red Skull first discussed five Sleepers in the Annual. When Cap and the Skull met, the villain only mentioned three Sleepers.

All Nazi Sleepers including these three received an entry in the All-New Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe Update#2. First names for Schlag, von Kimmer and Wolfmann were revealed in the updated Sleepers profile in OHotMU A-Z HC#10.

Profile by John Kaminski and Prime Eternal. Expansion by Ron Fredricks.

Nazi Sleepers 1-3 should not be confused with:

Martinus von Kimmer has no known connection to:

Kerta (Erica) Wolfmann has no known connection to:

Lars Schlag has no known connection to:

Martinus von Kimmer

Designated as Agent One, he was the Red Skull's operative responsible for activating the First Sleeper.

Once an SS officer, the ex-Nazi eventually became the burgomeister of the isolated Bavarian village of Gortmund by modern times.

When "Der Tag" arrived, Von Kimmer wore his old uniform and led a group of underlings to a cave in the wilderness. He then ordered his men to attach a cable to the gargantuan hinged boulder blocking the cave's entrances. As the men pulled the cable, the boulder fell, and the sudden rush of air "awoke" the robotic First Sleeper within the cavern.

But upon seeing the size and sheer power of the Sleeper, von Kimmer and his men fled in stark panic, their final fates unrevealed.

--Tales of Suspense I#72/2

Kerta Wolfmann

Designated as Agent Two, she was the Red Skull's operative responsible for activating the Second Sleeper.

When "Der Tag" arrived and the First Sleeper had been activated, she led a group of paid henchmen into a lonely forest adjoining the town of Telbeck, where she had them dig a hole. The men found what appeared to be a large knob-like object at the bottom of the hole, so she ordered them to strike the knob with a shovel -- but in doing so, they caused a massive explosion which apparently killed Wolfmann and her men, and also released the now-activated Second Sleeper from its underground chamber.

(Comment: When she was originally introduced in the story, a caption gave her name as "Erica Wolfmann" -- I guess we can employ the old "Robert Bruce 'Bob' Banner Explanation" and just say that her full name was "Kerta Erica Wolfmann".)

--Tales of Suspense I#72/2 (Tales of Suspense I#72/2-73/2

Lars Schlag

Designated as Agent Three, he was the Red Skull's operative responsible for activating the Third Sleeper.

When "Der Tag" arrived and the First and Second Sleepers had be activated, he went to the statue honoring General Frederick von Uberholtz in the town of Molnitz -- as he turned one of the raised letters on the statue's plaque, the conscienceless Nazi thought only of the glory that would soon be his.

But Schlag was killed in the resultant explosion that immediately followed, and the now-activated Third Sleeper rose into the air to join with the other two.

--Tales of Suspense I#73/2 (Tales of Suspense I#73/2-74/2

images: (without ads)
Tales of Suspense I#74/2, p7, pan1 (main image - all three Sleepers linked together)
Tales of Suspense I#72/2, p7, pan1 (First Sleeper bursts from cave after activation; von Kimmer and his underlings (foreground))
Tales of Suspense I#72/2, p9, pan1 (Captain America confronts First Sleeper)
Tales of Suspense I#73/2, p5, pan2 (Second Sleeper rises from underground chamber after activation)
Tales of Suspense I#73/2, p7, pan1 (Second Sleeper destroys town with its power)
Tales of Suspense I#73/2, p8, pan1 (Captain America atop Second Sleeper)
Tales of Suspense I#74/2, p6, pan4 (Third Sleeper rises into sky after activation)
Tales of Suspense I#74/2, p6, pan5 (Third Sleeper rendezvouses with conjoined First and Second Sleepers)
Tales of Suspense I#73/2, p8, pan3 (Second Sleeper pulls First Sleeper to its underside; Captain America atop Second Sleeper)
Tales of Suspense I#74/2, p7, pan6 (in Captain America's speculative thoughts, all three Sleepers begin tunneling at North Pole)
Tales of Suspense I#72/2, p5, pan5 (Martinus von Kimmer)
Tales of Suspense I#73/2, p4, pan2 (Kerta Wolfmann)
Tales of Suspense I#74/2, p6, pan2 (Lars Schlag)

Tales of Suspense I#72/2 (December, 1965) - Stan Lee (writer/editor), Jack Kirby (layouts), George Tuska (pencils/inks), Sam Rosen (letters)
Tales of Suspense I#73/2 (January, 1966) - Stan Lee (writer/editor), Jack Kirby (layouts), George Tuska (pencils/inks), Artie Simek (letters)
Tales of Suspense I#74/2 (February, 1966) - Stan Lee (writer/editor), Jack Kirby (layouts), George Tuska (pencils/inks), Artie Simek (letters)

First Posted: 12/21/2005
Last updated: 01/08/2023

Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.

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