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Sandman (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 Christman.

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.

Publication history

Golden 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,[3] 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.

Silver Age to Modern Age

Reintroduced 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, pulp-themed costume.
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 dreams.

Twilight years

Dodds 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 post-Crisis stories.

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.

Blackest Night
Dodds will be one of the Black Lanterns in the upcoming Blackest Night crossover.

Kingdom Come

In 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

Prophetic 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.

Equipment
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 cable.

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.

Other media

Although 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.

Collections

The Golden Age Sandman Archive by Bert Christman and others.
Sandman Mystery Theatre Books 1-7
Sleep of Reason (Credit: Wikipedia)

 

DC Comics

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DC 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.

Profile

DC 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 of Warner 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 Justice League.

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.

History

Origins

Entrepreneur 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 auction.

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.

2000's

In 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 of 2009.

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: Wikipedia)

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