March 3, 2024

Gabbing Geek

Your online community for all things geeky.

Noteworthy Issue: Wesley Dodds: The Sandman #1 (October, 2023)

Wesley Dodds wants to avoid the loss of life as he fights crime in the days before World War II.

Wait, DC gave Wesley Dodds, the original Sandman, a mini-series of his own alongside similar ones to Jay Garrick and Alan Scott?  That was unexpected.  Dodds is, well, not a bad choice for a storyline of his own, and one of these days, I will finish off the Vertigo Sandman Mystery Theater series.  Plus, like Jay and Alan, he did have a prominent role in a storyline recently.  Why not?

Issue:  Wesley Dodds: The Sandman #1, October 2023

Writer:  Robert Venditti

Artist:  Riley Rosmmo

The Plot:  Wesley Dodds is the Sandman, a World War I veteran who worked hard to perfect a gas that subdues criminals without hurting them.

Commentary:  Quite frankly, Wesley Dodds is probably my favorite member of the old JSA after the Spectre.  His basic look was a guy in a fedora with a gasmask.  He was very nondescript outside of his costume–how many superheroes actually wear glasses because they need to?–and his gimmick of getting dreams that helped him solve crimes is pretty cool.  He was treated as the original superhero in many respects by DC when Superman’s first appearance was in a more modern age.  He’s a basic guy with no superpowers, just some skills and, honestly, a really cool look.  He’s very much a throwback to a more pulp age of storytelling where characters like the Shadow were apt to do their thing.

Factor in as well that he’s probably got the best love interest of any character of that era, Dian Belmont, a debutante who knew his secret, helped him solve crimes, and unlike many of the old JSA love interests, never married her paramour but stayed with him until her death.  I still remember in James Robinson’s Starman series that Jack Knight was geeking out more about meeting her than his father’s old Justice Society teammate.

All of which leads to this mini-series, set in what looks like a pre-World War II setting, and showing a Wesley Dodds who, with help from Dian and his loyal butler, has finally found a way to channel his chemist skills in a manner that allows him to subdue criminals without really hurting them.  This Wesley has nightmares about his time in the trenches of the first World War, and the ides of deploying a knock-out gas as a more humane form of warfare may not work with any military men he approaches, but it may help him take care of street crime.

So, I must have really liked this issue, right?  Actually, not so much.  The setting seems to be shooting for that Sandman Mystery Theater era, but Venditti doesn’t have the writing skills of that series’s Matt Wagner, but given the setting and all, I think the story is going for that feel on purpose.  Likewise, the artwork here doesn’t work for me.  It’s too cartoonish given the subject matter, and scenes of Wesley in costume fighting crime aren’t always the easiest to follow.  I’ll probably continue with this one–I have liked Venditti’s work in the past–but the first issue didn’t do as much for me as I hoped it would.

Grade:  C+