Classification: Terrestrial technology
Creator: Red Skull (Johann Shmidt), unidentified Nazi scientists
User/Possessors: Red Skull
First Appearance: Captain America I#148 (April, 1972)
Powers/Abilities/Functions: A gargantuan walking robot/vehicle, the Fifth Sleeper was "taller than a skyscraper" (as per Captain America); constructed of unspecified highly durable materials, it was impervious to missiles and bombs. Whereas the previous four Sleepers were programmed to operate autonomously, the Fifth was piloted manually from a master control room inside its head.
This Sleeper produced its own self-sustaining supply of poison gas, which it dispensed from a multi-nozzle sprayer at the end of its left arm; its right arm terminated with a pincer claw. It could also fire laser beams from its eyes and forehead.
Access to the interior of the Sleeper was made by means of a stairway-ramp that extended from its left kneecap.
(Captain America I#148 (fb) - BTS) - At some point in the past, the Red Skull had the Fifth Sleeper constructed in an underground containment facility near Las Vegas, Nevada (see comments).
(Captain America I#145 - 147) - The Red Skull secretly manipulated Richard Fisk into taking over a faction of Hydra in Las Vegas, of which his father, the Kingpin (Wilson Fisk), became the leader. Their activities attracted the attention of Captain America (Steve Rogers) and S.H.I.E.L.D.'s Femme Force, who were soon joined by the Falcon (Sam Wilson) to destroy Fisk's Hydra base.
(Captain America I#148) - While Cap and the Falcon confronted Richard and the Kingpin directly, the Red Skull (within the Fifth Sleeper) transmitted a hologram of himself to them; he revealed that he had secretly been running the Hydra faction to prepare the world for the Fourth Reich -- the Kingpin scolded his son for unwittingly being duped by the forces of Nazism. The Skull then broadcast an image of the Sleeper bursting from the ground and spraying its poisonous gas, which killed two workers on a nearby farm. After his demonstration of the Sleeper's power, the Skull demanded that Cap surrender to him at the city limits, otherwise he would use the giant robot to attack Las Vegas first, then the entire free world.
Seeing no alternative, Captain America flew beyond the Las Vegas city limits with a jet-pack to surrender to the Skull-piloted Fifth Sleeper. But just as the Red Skull extended a stairway-ramp for Cap to climb aboard, Femme Force and the Kingpin's mobster underlings attacked the mammoth robot. The Skull immediately retracted the ramp, but Cap was able to leap upon it and gained access into the Sleeper's interior. The Red Skull used the mechanical monster's weaponry against the attackers; meanwhile, Captain America fought his way past the Skull's henchmen (see comments) to reach the Sleeper's master control room.
(Amazing Spider-Man I#164 (fb)) - As a result of the battle with the Fifth Sleeper, Richard Fisk had been gravely wounded and lay dying -- the Kingpin placed his son in cryogenic suspended animation, to preserve Richard until he could find a way to revive him.
(Captain America I#148) - Captain America burst into the control room, just as the Sleeper neared Las Vegas and the malevolent Red Skull began to release its poison gas. But while the Skull held Cap at gunpoint, preparing to execute the hero, the Falcon's bird Redwing entered the control room through a narrow viewing slit and snatched the Skull's handgun, giving Cap the opportunity to tackle the murderous Nazi. Redwing next flew to a control console and hit some buttons, which opened a larger viewing slit and allowed the Falcon to enter. When Cap punched the Skull, the villain slipped on a slick spot on the floor and he toppled through a rear viewing slit, seemingly plunging to his death.
(Captain America I#185 (fb)) - But as he fell, the Red Skull managed to reach out and grab a guy wire hanging from the Sleeper -- this allowed him to swing underneath the robot's torso and hide from sight.
(Captain America I#148) - With the menace of the Red Skull apparently over, Cap and the Falcon turned their attention to smashing the Fifth Sleeper's control consoles, completely stopping the giant robot from advancing any further into the city. The two heroes began to climb down from the immobilized Sleeper's smoking control room; they reached the desert floor and ran to safety, just as the metallic colossus erupted in an explosion that blew it to pieces.
(Captain America I#370) - Human-scaled replicas of the Fifth Sleeper and the earlier four Sleepers 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 Gary Friedrich and Sal Buscema.
All Nazi Sleepers--including this one--received an entry in the All-New Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe Update#2; that entry also suggested the underground containment facility where the Fifth Sleeper was buried could have been an expansion of the base used by Doctor Death and the Battle-Axis in 1942, which Hydra eventually claimed.
The Red Skull would challenge Captain America at least two times after the activation of the Fourth Sleeper, so why did he wait so long before he finally utilized this one? My guess is that although the other Sleepers were finished by the end of World War II, construction of the Fifth Sleeper wasn't fully completed until modern times because of its immense size.
Although the Red Skull operated the Fifth Sleeper by himself from its head, there were also at least three men (possibly engineers/technicians) within its main body, as well as a guard stationed outside the control room door.
And the Fifth Sleeper's face always reminded of the Cylons from the original Battlestar Galactica TV series.
Profile by Ron Fredricks.
The Fifth Sleeper should not be confused with:
images: (without ads)
Captain America I#148, p6, pan1 (main image - Fifth Sleeper bursting from ground)
Captain America I#148, p7, pan1 (Fifth Sleeper spraying poison gas)
Captain America I#148, p13, pan1 (Fifth Sleeper with extended stairway-ramp for Captain America, as Femme Force attacks it from above)
Amazing Spider-Man I#164, p2, pan3 (in flashback, Fifth Sleeper fires laser beam from forehead as it battles Kingpin and his mob)
Captain America I#148 (December, 1972) - Gary Friedrich (writer), Sal Buscema (pencils), John Romita (inks), Artie Simek (letters), Stan Lee (editor)
Captain America I#185 (May, 1975) - Steve Englehart (writer), Frank Robbins (pencils), Frank Giacoia (inks), Stan Goldberg (colors), Tom Orzechowski (letters), Len Wein (editor)
Amazing Spider-Man I#164 (January, 1977) - Len Wein (writer/editor), Ross Andru (pencils), Mike Esposito (inks), Glynis Wein (colors), Joe Rosen//John Costanza (letters)
First Posted: 01/12/2023
Last updated: 01/12/2023
Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.
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