Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Guide To Golden Age Sandman Reprints Part 1

"There is no land beyond the law, where tyrants rule with unshakeable power!  It's but a dream from which the evil wake to face their fate...their terrifying hour!"....a message left for criminals by the crimefighter, the Sandman, putting criminals to sleep with his gas gun (which, was why he wore a gas mask along with his suit, to hide his identity as Wesley Dodds).  This Golden Age hero started in Adventure Comics, capturing a few of its covers, and worked with the Justice Society of America as well, but we start with his first published tale...and follow along with a little more after.

New York World's Fair Comics

New York World's Fair Comics #1 (April, 1939) had the first published story of the Sandman by Gardner Fox and Bert Christman, with "Sandman At The World's Fair" (though his Adventure Comics #40 story took place first, and coming out only 2 weeks after Batman's first appearance as well, so Batman isn't in this issue) where Sandman stops hoods who steal his new ray gun invention.  New York World's Fair Comics #2 (July, 1940) has the adventure of "Sandman Goes To The World's Fair" by Gardner Fox and Chad Grothkopf, with Sandman rescuing his kidnapped girlfriend, Dian Belmont. 


Both of these stories are reprinted in the DC Comics Rarities Archives #1 (December, 2004)


Adventure Comics

The first adventure of Sandman Wesley Dodds is from Adventure Comics #40 (July, 1939) by Gardner Fox and Bert Christman, with the hero dealing with when "The Tarantula Strikes", this a villain, not the later hero of the Golden Age, the Tarantula (John Law), though Sandman and the second Tarantula do have a bond, detailed later in All-Star Squadron.  This story involves Sandman rescuing kidnapped actress, Vivian Dale, and freeing her from the Tarantula's clutches.  Sandman's fashion was a little off in this issue, as in his earliest appearances, his suit was orange (before settling on green).  This tale does not feature Sandman's origin, which did not come to light until Secret Origins #7 (October, 1986), at the New York World's Fair (and involving the Crimson Avenger, another pulp styled mystery man).

This tale was reprinted in  Justice League of America #94 (November, 1971), which had this stunning cover featuring Deadman and the Justice League by Neal Adams, in an incredible story featuring the League of Assassins, as well as Starman's first appearance in Adventure Comics.

Next up is the reprint of Adventure Comics #51 (June, 1940) with the tale of "The Pawn Broker" by Gardner Fox and Creig Flessel, with Sandman tracking down escaped felon, Mad Maddon, and his murderous friend, Flip Benson.

This story was reprinted in Justice League of America #99 (June, 1972) along with a Golden Age Atom story (and a cover by Nick Cardy) and in Greatest Golden Age Stories Ever Told (1990) with a cover by Jerry Ordway.

Adventure Comics #61 (April, 1941) has Sandman facing "The Menace Of The Metal Gun" by  Gardner Fox and Creig Flessel, with Wes and Dian facing off against Ivan Borloff and his new invention, the Cylindecraft, a ray gun that destroys metal (though, ironically, has no effect on sand, which is key in allowing the Sandman to defeat the villain).

This reprint came about in Millennium Edition Adventure Comics #61 (December, 2000) which was a reprint that came from a vote by the fans...

...proving how popular Starman was (with Sandman and his fans also being one of the lucky recipients of that popularity, as this was the only place this story has been reprinted so far!).

The last of Wes' gas masked adventures reprinted is Adventure Comics #65 (August, 1941), with "The "Sandman At Sea" by artist Paul Norris.  While relaxing on a yacht with girlfriend, Dian Belmont, the Sandman gets involved in an attempted kidnapping of scientist Elbert Hudson, getting help in dealing with foreign agents from the U.S. military!


This story was reprinted in 100-Page Super Spectacular DC-17 (1973) under a cover by Nick Cardy, with three other stories...

...two featuring the Justice League and one with the Justice Society, with more facts on all of them here!



All-Star Comics

A few earlier Sandman tales, All-Star Comics #1 (Summer, 1940) with "The Twin Thieves" by Gardner Fox, Creig Flessel and Chad Grothkopf, with Sandman facing twins who are thieves while dealing with a bullet wound, and All-Star Comics #2 (Fall, 1940) with "The Glowing Globes" by Gardner Fox, Creig Flessel and Chad Grothkopf, and a scientist brother who uses the scientist's invention for evil after killing him, both reprinted  in All-Star Comics Archives #0 (2006).


Then, Sandman was a charter member of the Justice Society of America starting with All-Star Comics #3 (Winter, 1940-1941), with more of career there detailed here.


World's Finest Comics 

World's Finest Comics #3 (Fall, 1941) to #5 (Spring, 1942), have the very last of Sandman's original look, but these tales have not been reprinted at this time.

Golden Age Sandman Archives

The Golden Age Sandman Archives features a good portion of Sandman's earliest adventures with Dian Belmont, dispensing justice and helping those in need while being quite the fashionable hero, reprinting his stories from New York World's Fair Comics #1 (1939), New York World's Fair Comics #2 (1940) and Adventure Comics #40 to #59, giving readers a good taste of Sandman's career...

.....but not quite all, as it still misses the last of his suited adventures, that lasted until Adventure Comics #68, and World's Finest Comics #5


But, these issues did NOT signal the end of Sandman's Golden Age career!


Still, Sandman had some major changes, ditching the suit and gas mask for a purple and yellow costume, and getting a sidekick in Sandy the Golden Boy with Adventure Comics #69 (December, 1941), and Joe Simon and Jack Kirby as the creative force behind the comics, starting in Adventure Comics #72 (March, 1942)....but, those are tales to be told on a later date...

....with Sandman returning to his classic look with the JLA/JSA team-ups (and even later, with retroactive tales of Wes in the 1940s, with Sandman Mystery Theatre), with these tales to be looked into sometime in the future.



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