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(Wesley Dodds), is a fictional superhero appearing
in comic books published by DC Comics. The first
of several DC characters to bear the name, he
was created by writer Gardner Fox and artist Bert
Attired in a green business suit, fedora, and
gas mask, the Sandman used a gun emitting a sleeping
gas to sedate criminals. He was originally one
of the mystery men to appear in comic books and
other types of adventure fiction in the 1930s
but later developed into a more proper superhero,
acquiring sidekick Sandy, and joining the Justice
Society of America.
While the character's first appearance is usually
given as Adventure Comics #40 (July 1939), he
also appeared in DC Comics' 1939 New York World's
Fair Comics omnibus, which historians believe
appeared on newsstands one to two weeks earlier,
while also believing the Adventure Comics story
was written and drawn first. Creig Flessel, who
drew many early Sandman adventures, has sometimes
been credited as co-creator on the basis of drawing
the Sandman cover of Adventure Comics #40, but
no other evidence has surfaced.
Like most DC Golden Age superheroes, the Sandman
fell into obscurity in the 1940s and eventually
other DC characters took his name. During the
1990s, when writer Neil Gaiman's Sandman (featuring
Morpheus, the anthropomorphic embodiment of dreams)
was popular, DC revived Dodds in Sandman Mystery
Theater, a pulp/noir series set in the 1930s.
Wizard Magazine ranked Wesley Dodds among the
Top 200 Comic Book Characters of All Time; he
is the oldest superhero in terms of continuity
to appear on the list.
Age of comic books
Following his first appearance in Adventure Comics
#40, the Sandman continued to star in one of that
omnibus title's features through #102 (March 1945).
One of the medium's seminal "mystery men",
as referred to at the time, the Sandman straddled
the pulp magazine detective tradition and the
emerging superhero tradition by dint of his dual
identity and his fanciful, masked attire and weapon
— an exotic "gas gun" that could
compel villains to tell the truth, as well as
put them to sleep. Unlike many superheroes, he
frequently found himself the victim of gunshot
wounds, both in the Golden Age and Vertigo series,
and he would continue fighting in spite of serious
limitations the injuries caused.
In his early career, Dodds (the character's surname
was given as "Dodd" in his first four
appearances, he became Dodds in Adventure Comics
#44) was frequently aided by his girlfriend, Dian
Belmont, who is aware of his dual identity. Unlike
many superhero love interests, Belmont was often,
though not always, portrayed as an equal partner
of the Sandman, rather than a damsel in distress.
Later stories would reveal that the two remained
together for the duration of their lives, though
they never married.
The Sandman was one of the original members of
the Justice Society of America when that superhero
team was introduced in All Star Comics #3, published
by All-American Comics, one of the companies that
would merge to form DC.
In Adventure Comics #69 (Dec. 1941), Dodds was
given a more superheroic yellow-and-purple costume
by writer Mort Weisinger and artist Paul Norris,
as well as a yellow-clad kid sidekick, Sandy the
Golden Boy, nephew of Dian Belmont. Later that
year, the celebrated team of Joe Simon and Jack
Kirby took over this version of the character.
Age to Modern Age
in the Silver Age in Justice League of America
#46 (July 1966), the Sandman made occasional appearances
in the annual teamups between that superhero group
and the JSA.
In 1981 DC began publishing All-Star Squadron,
a retelling of the Earth-Two mystery-men during
WWII. Although not a main character, Sandman does
appear in its pages. Of note is issue #18 which
gives an explanation of why Dodds changed costumes
from the cloak and gas mask to the yellow-and-purple
outfit; Dian wore his costume while he was fighting
in the war and she was killed in a fray. Dodds
decided to wear the new costume, of Dian's design,
until he could bring himself to wear the original
that she had died in.
Later, this explanation would be changed again
when Dian Belmont was retconned to have never
died, and a new explanation was given: Sandy convinced
Dodds to switch to the more colorful costume to
gain the support of regular people, who preferred
the more traditional superhero look to his older,
An acclaimed film noir-inspired retelling of the
original Sandman's adventures, Sandman Mystery
Theatre, ran from 1993-1998 under DC Comics' mature-reader
imprint, Vertigo. Although as a whole its continuity
within the main DC Universe is debatable, several
aspects of the series have been adopted into regular
continuity, including the more nuanced relationship
between Dodds and Dian Belmont. The series ran
for 70 issues and 1 annual.
In Sandman Midnight Theatre (1995) a one-shot
special by Neil Gaiman (author of the Modern Age
supernatural series The Sandman), Matt Wagner
(co-author of Sandman Mystery Theatre), and Teddy
Kristiansen, depicts an interaction between the
two characters, with the original visiting Great
Britain and encountering the imprisoned Dream,
the protagonist of Gaiman's series. A minor retcon
by Gaiman suggested that Dodds' chosen identity
was a result of Dream's absence from the realm
the Dreaming, and that Dodds carries an aspect
of that mystical realm. This explains Dodds' prophetic
is one of a number of Justice Society members
who finds themselves in the "Ragnarok Dimension"
during the early Modern Age of comic books. The
Last Days of the Justice Society of America Special
(1986) wrote the post-Crisis tale of a time-warped
wave of destruction ready to engulf the world.
Dodds and his JSA teammates enter into a limbo
to engage in an eternal battle that would allow
the universe to continue its existence. This lasted
only until 1992 when DC published Armageddon:
Inferno. This mini-series ended with the JSA members
leaving limbo and entering the 'real' world. Justice
Society of America (1992-1993) showed how the
JSA members handled returning to normal life.
For the Sandman, the series depicted him as an
old, thin man with a balding scalp and a sharp
wit. Starting with episode #1 his physical condition
became important as writer Len Strazewski had
him suffer a stroke at the first sign of a villainous
attack. Both his age and his physical limitations
became a theme writers would use in this character's
During Zero Hour, Dodds is returned to his proper
age by the Extant. Later, Wesley Dodds is shown
as retired and living with Dian Belmont though
occasionally coming out of it, most notably in
a team-up with Jack Knight, the son of Dodds'
JSA teammate Starman. When Dian is diagnosed with
a terminal disease, the two travel the world together
until her passing.
In JSA Secret Files & Origins #1 in 1999,
Dodds commits suicide rather than allow the location
of Doctor Fate to be taken from his mind by the
villainous Mordru. His youthful but now grown-up
sidekick, Sandy the Golden Boy, becomes known
simply as Sand and takes his mentor's place as
a member of the Justice Society of America as
well as his prophetic dreams. Eventually, he takes
the name of Sandman.
Wesley Dodds will be returning as a Black Lantern
in the Blackest Night crossover.
Sleep of Reason
Wesley Dodds makes a comeback via flashback images
in the 2006 limited series Sandman Mystery Theatre:
Sleep of Reason.
Dodds will be one of the Black Lanterns in the
upcoming Blackest Night crossover.
Mark Waid and Alex Ross' Elseworlds miniseries
Kingdom Come, Wesley Dodds is tormented by prophetic
visions of Armageddon. After his death these visions
are passed to the protagonist, Norman McCay, who
was one of Dodds' only remaining friends. The
story later reveals that the visions were sent
to Dodds because his tenure as Sandman somehow
gave him an affinity for dreams and their interpretation.
Wesley Dodds actually prophesies the future events
in Kingdom Come before dying in the hospital,
playing a brief yet important part in the story.
Powers and Abilities
Dreams: Due to an encounter with the entity known
as Dream, Wesley Dodds possessed the power of
prophetic dreaming. His dreams often came to him
as cryptic, ambiguous visions, but Wes' keen intellect
enabled him to properly interpret them. Through
an unknown process, Wes passed on this power to
his former ward, Sanderson Hawkins upon the moment
of his own death.
Criminology: Wesley Dodds possessed a sharp intellect
and was a skilled if albeit amateur detective.
Chemistry: He was also a talented chemist, creating
the sand-like substance used to transform Sandy
the Golden Boy
Inventor: Wes was also a talented inventor. One
of the devices that Wes created was a Silicoid
Gun - a weapon ultimately responsible for transforming
Sandy the Golden Boy into a Silicon-based life-form.
As a hobby, Wes enjoyed reading, writing, poetry,
origami and philosophy.
In the early years of his career, Wesley Dodds
possessed the strength level of a man who engaged
in regular exercise, and was a fine hand-to-hand
combatant. As he grew older, his strength level
diminished in relative proportion to his age.
WWI Gas Mask: The Sandman used a World War I era
gas mask to protect himself from the effects of
his own sleeping gas.
Wirepoon: He also made use of a specially designed
wire-poon gun, which fired a length of thin, steel
In the early days of his career, the Sandman drove
a black 1938 Plymouth Coupe. The car was enhanced
with various features to aid Wes in his crusade
against crime. Should an adversary attempt to
pursue the Sandman, Wes could pull a switch on
the dashboard of his car, which released the detachable
rear bumper. The interior of the bumper was lined
with barbed spikes - ideal for tearing the tires
of any vehicle attempting to follow him.
Gas Gun: The Sandman's only known weapon was his
gas gun, a handheld device fitted with cartridges
containing concentrated sleeping gas. Pressing
the trigger on the gun released a cloud of green
dust rendering all within the Sandman's immediate
vicinity unconscious. An upgraded canister dispenser
for the gun was provided for him by his close
friend and confidante, Lee Travis. Wes was also
known to conceal smaller knockout gas capsules
in a hollow heel on his shoe. These proved ideal
when placed in situations where his gas gun was
not readily available.
Sandman has never actually appeared outside of
comicdom, a very similar character named Nightshade
(no relation to the DC Comics superhero of the
same name) appears multiple times in The Flash
TV Series. This incarnation, Dr. Desmond Powell
(played by late actor Jason Bernard), shares several
similarities with the original Sandman, even using
the same gas-gun.
Golden Age Sandman Archive by Bert Christman and
Sandman Mystery Theatre Books 1-7
Sleep of Reason (Credit:
Comics is the largest and most diverse English
language publisher of comic books in the world.
Founded in 1934 as National Allied Publications,
the company that would one day become DC Comics
virtually created the comic book, publishing the
first comic of all original material. Then, in
the spring of 1938, the first super hero story
appeared in ACTION COMICS #1, introducing SUPERMAN.
Other soon-to-be icons would follow, including
BATMAN, WONDER WOMAN, GREEN LANTERN, THE FLASH
and many others. Today, DC Comics publishes more
than 80 titles a month and close to 1000 issues
a year. DC has several imprints spanning the gamut
of graphic storytelling: The DC Universe is the
home of DC's peerless roster of super heroes;
Vertigo caters to a more mature, literary readership;
WildStorm offers a bold alternative take on heroic
and adventure comics; CMX brings some of Japan's
best-loved manga to American audiences; and Zuda
Comics is DC's innovative web imprint. DC is also
the home of MAD Magazine, the best-known humor
magazine in America. DC Comics is a division of
Time Warner, the largest entertainment company
in the world.
Comics (founded originally in 1934 as National
Allied Publications) is one of the largest and
most popular American comic book and related media
companies, along with Marvel Comics. A subsidiary
Bros. Entertainment since 1969, DC Comics
produces material featuring a large number of
well-known characters, including Superman, Batman,
Wonder Woman, the Flash, Green Lantern and the
The initials "DC" came from the company's
popular series, Detective Comics, which subsequently
became part of the company's official name. DC
Comic's official headquarters are at 1700 Broadway,
7th, New York, New York. Random House distributes
DC Comics' books to the bookstore market, while
Diamond Comics Distributors supplies the comics
shop specialty market.
Major Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson's National Allied
Publications debuted with the tabloid-sized New
Fun: The Big Comic Magazine #1 in February 1935.
The company's second title, New Comics #1 (December
1935), was published at a size close to what would
become comic books' standard during the period
fans and historians call the Golden Age of Comic
Books, with slightly larger dimensions than today's.
That title evolved into Adventure Comics, which
continued through issue #503 in 1983, becoming
one of the longest-running comic book series.
His third and final title, Detective Comics, advertised
with a cover illustration dated December 1936,
eventually premiering three months late with a
March 1937 cover date. The themed anthology series
would become a sensation with the introduction
of Batman in issue #27 (May 1939). By then, however,
Wheeler-Nicholson had gone. In 1937, in debt to
printing-plant owner and magazine distributor
Harry Donenfeld — who was as well a pulp-magazine
publisher and a principal in the magazine distributorship
Independent News — Wheeler-Nicholson was
compelled to take Donenfeld on as a partner in
order to publish Detective #1. Detective Comics,
Inc. was formed, with Wheeler-Nicholson and Jack
S. Liebowitz, Donenfeld's accountant, listed as
owners. Major Wheeler-Nicholson remained for a
year, but cash-flow problems continued, and he
was forced out. Shortly afterward, Detective Comics
Inc. purchased the remains of National Allied,
also known as Nicholson Publishing, at a bankruptcy
Detective Comics Inc. shortly launched a fourth
title, Action Comics, the premiere of which introduced
Superman (a character with which Wheeler-Nicholson
had no direct involvement; editor Vin Sullivan
chose to run the feature after Sheldon Mayer rescued
it from the slush pile). Action Comics #1 (June
1938), the first comic book to feature the new
character archetype soon to be called superheroes,
proved a major sales hit. The company quickly
introduced such other popular characters as the
Sandman and Batman.
March 2003, DC acquired publishing and merchandising
rights to the long-running fantasy series Elfquest,
previously self-published by creators Wendy and
Richard Pini under their WaRP Graphics publication
banner. This series then followed the Tower Comics
series T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents in becoming non-DC
titles published in the "DC Archives"
format. In 2004, DC temporarily acquired the North
American publishing rights to graphic novels from
European publishers 2000 AD and Humanoids. It
also rebranded its younger-audience titles with
the mascot Johnny DC, and established the CMX
imprint to reprint translated manga. In 2006,
CMX took over publication - from Dark Horse Comics
- publication of the webcomic Megatokyo in print
form. DC also took advantage of the demise of
Kitchen Sink Press and acquired the rights to
much of the work of the renowned creator, Will
Eisner, such as his The Spirit series and his
acclaimed graphic novels.
Starting in 2004, DC began laying groundwork for
a full continuity-reshuffling sequel to Crisis
on Infinite Earths, promising substantial changes
to the DC Universe (and side-stepping the 1994
Zero Hour event which similarly tried to ret-con
the history of the DCU). In 2005, the company
published several limited series establishing
increasingly escalated conflicts among DC's heroes,
with events climaxing in the Infinite Crisis limited
series. Immediately after this event, DC's ongoing
series jumped forward a full year in their in-story
continuity, as DC launched a weekly series, 52,
to gradually fill in the missing time. Concurrently,
DC lost the copyright to "Superboy"
(while retaining the trademark) when the heirs
of Jerry Seigel used a provision of the 1976 revision
to the copyright law to regain ownership. Although
DC appealed the ruling, it is widely believed
that this was the reason for Conner Kent (also
known as Superboy)'s death during the Infinite
Crisis limited series.
In 2005, DC launched a new "All-Star"
line (evoking the title of the 1940s publication),
designed to feature some of the company's best-known
characters in stories that eschewed the long and
convoluted continuity of the DC Universe, produced
by "all star" creative teams.. All-Star
Batman & Robin the Boy Wonder launched in
July 2005, with All-Star Superman beginning in
November 2005. All-Star Wonder Woman and All Star
Batgirl were announced in 2006, but neither have
been released or scheduled as of the beginning
In April 2008, the videogame company Midway released
the eighth version of its Mortal Kombat fighting-game
franchise, Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe, which
featured DC superheroes and supervillians as half
of the playable characters. (Credit: