The Sleepers
May 2009 — September 2009
Writers Greg Rucka
Artists Eddy Barrows, Sidney Teles, Diego Almos
Comic Book Story Arcs
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The Sleepers is a story arc running through the pages of Action Comics in 2009. It reveals the identities of the new Nightwing and Flamebird who had previously only been seen with their faces covered. It follows their mission to uncover General Zod's sleeper agents on Earth.

Action Comics #875

Action Comics 875
  • Date: May 2009
  • Written by Greg Rucka
  • Pencils: Eddy Barrows
  • Inks: Ruy Jose, Julio Ferreira
  • Colors: Rod Reis
  • Cover by Andrew Robinson

The new Flamebird and Nightwing raid the corporate headquarters of the Empire Communications Network in Sydney, Australia. ECN's CEO turns out to be a Kryptonian sleeper agent named Tor-An. Tor-An fights back against them, but it soon becomes apparent to him that Flamebird and Nightwing are Kryptonian as well. Using a combination of their new Kryptonian powers as well as their advanced armor and weaponry, they are able to capture Tor-An. Nightwing remarks, "Only five more to go". The heroes fly off, but a nearby helicopter takes an interest in their actions.

Back in the United States, General Sam Lane of Project 7734 secretly monitors Nightwing and Flamebird's actions. Viewing the helicopter video footage, he tries to identify Flamebird's face, but cannot make out the image.

On New Krypton, Alura learns that her security chief Thara Ak-Var has disappeared. She assigns Ursa the task of tracking her down and retrieving her. Ursa reflects upon her son, Lor-Zod, and wonder if Lor-Zod may have told Thara Ak-Var about the sleeper agents.

Back on Earth, Flamebird and Nightwing bring Tor-An to the Fortress of Solitude. Nightwing is actually Lor-Zod, prematurely aged several years and now a teenager, and Flamebird is actually Thara Ak-Var. Thara had saved Lor-Zod from the Phantom Zone and, as Ursa had feared, he had told her about the sleeper agents. They use a Phantom Zone Projector to imprison Tor-An within the Phantom Zone.

Without warning, Lor-Zod begins to go through another crippling growth spurt. Suddenly, Ursa bursts into the Fortress and prepares to kill them both.

Action Comics #876

Action Comics 876
  • Date: June 2009
  • Written by Greg Rucka
  • Pencils: Eddy Barrows, Sidney Teles
  • Inks: Ruy Jose, Julio Ferreira
  • Colors: Rod Reis
  • Cover by Andrew Robinson

Ursa rampages through the Fortress of Solitude, which is currently occupied by Flamebird and her son, Nightwing. She taunts Flamebird by calling her a coward, claiming that she was responsible for the murder of her parents. This puts Flamebird off guard, enabling Ursa the chance to go in for the kill. She slices her with a frangible blade poisoned with Kryptonite. The effects are practically immediate and Flamebird weakens. Ursa pounces on her with a flurry of thrusts, stabbing her repeatedly.

As his partner falls to the floor, Nightwing races over and punches his mother in the jaw. She retaliates with a burst of arctic breath. The two swamp blows and Nightwing surprises her by unleashing a new power - a purple, ultraviolet blast. Ursa begins to cower in fear as Nightwing picks up the Kryptonite blade. He is not a murderer however and drops the knife in order to tend to Flamebird. He picks her up and flies out of the Fortress. Ursa tries to fly after them, but a section of the ceiling collapses, burying her.

In Metropolis, Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen compare notes on missing Empire Communication CEO David Carter. Lois notices that Jimmy has the word "Hell" written repeatedly across his notebook. He tells her that it's a word puzzle that relates to Project 7734. This reminds Lois of her father. Lois tries to call her sister Lucy, but she doesn't get through.

Moments later, a battered Flamebird and Nightwing arrive outside her window.

Action Comics #877

Action Comics 877
  • Date: July 2009
  • Written by Greg Rucka
  • Pencils: Sidney Teles
  • Inks: Sandro Ribeiro
  • Colors: Rod Reis
  • Cover by Andrew Robinson

Ursa awakens inside the Fortress of Solitude. Blind without her goggles, she fashions a blindfold for herself and comes upon the imprisoned sleeper agent Tor-An. Knowing that Tor-An knows too much to live, she executes him.

Meanwhile, Lor-Zod brings the dying Thara Ak-Var to Lois Lane and Clark's apartment. Lois calls upon the aid of Kimiyo Hoshi, aka Doctor Light, to help out. Doctor Light uses her powers to solar-charge Thara's Kryptonian cells in the hopes of stimulating her alien recuperative abilities. Lor-Zod then realizes that Ursa may still be alive and flies back to the Fortress.

General Sam Lane and his agents at Project 7734 track Lor-Zod's movements and realize where he is going. They fire missiles at the fortress and Lor-Zod takes to the air. He fires back at them with blasts of heat vision.

Meanwhile in New Paradise, Nevada, two more Kryptonian sleeper agents work as a veritable Bonnie & Clyde, knocking over banks. When the police arrive to arrest them, they kill them with blasts of heat vision.

Action Comics #878

Action Comics 878
  • Date: August 2009
  • Written by Greg Rucka
  • Pencils: Diego Almos
  • Inks: Diego Almos
  • Colors: Rod Reis
  • Cover by Andrew Robinson

In New Mexico, two Kryptonian sleeper agents, Az-Rel and Nadira, continue to leave a path of destruction in their wake. A group of police officers track them to a house, but the Kryptonians savagely murder them with their powers.

In Metropolis, Thara Ak-Var awakens in Lois Lane's apartment. Lois explains to her that she knows that she is Flamebird, and tells her that she is Lor-Zod (Nightwing)'s adoptive mother.

Elsewhere, General Sam Lane sends his Project 7734 team to the Fortress of Solitude to survey the site for signs of Nightwing. All they find is evidence of a fight and the dead body of Kryptonian sleeper agent Tor-An. They acquire some of Lor-Zod's DNA and determine that he is the same boy that was once under Superman's protection. General Lane can not explain the accelerated aging however. Their monitoring station captures video surveillance footage of two Kryptonians streaking off in New Mexico. Lane suspects them to be Flamebird and Nigthwing when in truth it is really Az-Rel and Nadira.

Nightwing eventually returns to Lois' apartment and Flamebird and he suit up. They fly to New Mexico where they encounter Az-Rel and Nadira. They fight against one another, trading power punches for heat vision blasts, but the battle is interrupted when Codename: Assassin arrives on the scene accompanied by a horde of green-skinned monsters.

Action Comics #879

Action Comics 879
  • Date: September 2009
  • Written by Greg Rucka
  • Pencils: Diego Almos
  • Inks: Diego Almos, Bit
  • Colors: Rod Reis
  • Cover by Andrew Robinson

Codename: Assassin is overjoyed to meet four Kryptonians rather than the two he had expected and instructs his army to attack. They do but Az-Rel and Nadira are able to flee as Thara is temporarily overwhelmed and Nightwing chases after the sleepers.

With her helmet removed in the struggle Assassin reads her mind. He learns of Alura, Zor, Kara, the sleepers plot, the church, Ursa, Chris Kent, Brainiac, a magic flower and a phoenix. Chris interests him most of all and Assassin smugly promises to kill Chris in front of Thara. This manifests the hidden power within her and she becomes Flamebird herself - the real one. She kills the army of orc things and rushes to find her soulmate.

Assassin radios in to Project 7734 that there have been developments in the mission but in the meantime we catch up to the two sleepers and their fight with Nightwing.

Az-Rel reveals that in legend one of the duo of Nightwing and Flamebird will die for the love of the other. Chris shrugs the legend off and races to save a falling bridge - again the sleepers use the confusion to escape and Thara now normal again arrives to help. The two give chase when they realize Nadira and Az-Rel have fled.

Lois Lane stands in Arlington National Cemetery, at the grave of her father. Another of her celebrity friends, Mon-El, arrives and Lois asks him to scan the grave. The body in the grave is almost identical to that of the real Sam Lane but the parties responsible for creating a duplicate forgot to count his teeth. Lois knows her dad has twenty eight teeth and thus it dawns on her finally that her father is still alive...

Sam Lane in the 7734 base is mighty hacked off at the performance of his team until Assassin reminds him that Thara was possessed be something powerful. Sam reminds his cohorts that 7734 is not to be made public yet and that's when he notices Mirabai has vanished. She reappears and leads Sam to the basement where she rewards her boss with two hostages... somehow she has captured Az-Rel and Nadira.