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September 30, 2012

Character Spotlight: Sandman Mystery Theatre

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Written by: Dr. Bustos
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“There is no land beyond the law where tyrants rule with unshakable power! ‘Tis but a dream from which the evil wake to face their fate…their terrifying hour!”

A new series for an old character.

These are the words of Wesley Dodds, the original Sandman of DC comics. Nowadays the first thought for a lot of people when they think of DC’s Sandman is Neil Gaiman’s series from the 1990s, but this one is about the original character who has nothing to do with Gaiman’s (minus the retcon to explain his prophetic dreams). I took a while to come up with how to explain this without feeling like I was tricking you. This won’t be the story of just one person, but of the three people tied to this Sandman and his adventures – Wesley Dodds (the original Sandman), Dian Belmont (Dodds’s partner in solving crimes and in love), and Sanderson Hawkins (Dodds’s sidekick, turned monster, turned man of sand, turned Sandman II).

Back in 1939!

Wesley Dodds

Look at that action shot!

Born to wealthy parents, Wesley would take to traveling abroad in Asia at a young age after his mother died (travel was suggested by a fortune teller to his father). Throughout the continent Wesley would learn martial arts, origami, and herbalism (I guess the fortune teller had a point), and when he returned to the U.S. after college and his father’s death, he took over the family business as an investor.

He didn't always wear a green suit.

In his original story it was by some unknown circumstance that Wesley would gain his prophetic dreams that would set him on the trail to fight crime. In the popular Sandman series by Gaiman, it was explained that when that Sandman went missing in 1938, part of his soul was placed in Wesley, thus granting him his dreams of crimes being committed. These dreams would haunt Wesley, and he would go out to try and stop these crimes from continuing. Thus began his road to become the Sandman.

The gas gun is as important as the mask itself.

Wesley used his money (money is quickly becoming my favorite super power) to create a gas that was both a sedative and truth serum, thus he could either knock out his opponent, or like using hypnosis, interrogate his target. He began wearing a gas mask and suit to go out and pacify his enemies. During an early mission, he confronted another masked hero, the Crimson Avenger (a man who was far more violent in his vigilante justice wielding two pistols). The two would work together to stop the Phantom of the World’s Fair, and the Avenger would give him a gun designed to aide with his sleeping gas. This would not be the last time Wesley would team up with another masked hero.

The Sandman and Dian meet!

While being a wealthy investor, Wesley would meed District Attorney Lawrence Belmont and his daughter Dian. Dian and Wesley would hit it off and begin dating, with Wesley keeping his dual identity from Dian, while Dian would keep her own secret of following and trying to solve the same mysteries the Sandman was. Eventually the two would reveal their true natures to one another and embrace that they could help one another as well as love one another.

The cape is what makes it a superhero costume, right?

The two would take down many terrifying mad men of murderous intent and the beginnings of supervillains such as The Mist. Many of Wesley’s early villains were serial killers and kidnappers, but as the years wore on the extraordinary would seep in more and more, and he’d team up with the Hourman on a case during his early years. By the time of America’s involvement in World War 2, things had truly changed in Wesley’s crime fighting world.

I never cared for this costume. He used special nose plugs to make up for the mask.

Eventually after meeting other heroes, Wesley would join the Justice Society of America. He’d don a different costume to fit in with his colleagues for a time, a yellow and purple costume. This was a terrible costume and was only worn for a short period of time. At this time as well, Dian’s nephew Sanderson “Sandy” Hawkins would become Sandy the Golden Boy, Sandman’s sidekick who wore a yellow and orange version of the new superhero get up Wesley wore.

No cape, no yellow and purple, that's the way I like it.

Wesley would fight crime on and off again as he aged, often with Dian at his side; they would fight crime on vacations and travel the world together. They were adorable and were some of the few heroes to live a normal life span. Eventually Dian would die before Wesley of old age (that’s how I think it went down since he was alone on his final adventure), and Wesley would learn who would become the next Doctor Fate. To keep that secret from getting in the wrong hands he jumped off a waterfall to his death.

Dian Belmont

 

One of the few panels online I could find of just her.

Dian was the daughter of New York City’s district attorney Lawrence Belmont. Her mother died when she was young, leaving her and her father to watch out for one another. Dian had wealth so she was never in need of the material, which led to her seeking out a life of her own. A modern woman in a time when such notions were not wanted, Dian was headstrong and would often end up helping her father on cases he wished she’d never heard about. Dian would spend her free time with her friends going to illegal clubs, and learning more and more about the criminal element.

 

The two of them had quite the life together.

Crossing paths with Wesley Dodds would prove to be most fortuitous, for while she didn’t know at the time, the two would become great allies, friends, and lovers. Becoming fascinated by the Sandman’s methods and results, Dian soon realized that when a dangerous case would end up on her father’s desk, the Sandman was bound to be close behind. Dian wasn’t concerned with who the Sandman was, she just knew that any case he was after was one worth solving.

 

We'd all be so lucky to have such a relationship.

At some point Dian would learn who the Sandman was, realizing that Wesley had been keeping secrets when he knew she was in just as much danger trying to solve the same cases. She’d go on a vacation to see Europe, and return realizing that Wesley needed her, as he had also learned. The two would then spend the rest of their days solving cases in some form or another. When Dian’s nephew appeared on her doorstep, he’d end up joining in their battle to fight crime when their cases were not so much serial killers as they were masked supervillains. Dian would die before Wesley of an illness she’d contracted in old age, after one last adventure in the Middle East to stop a drug being developed from Wesley’s sleeping gas.

Sanderson “Sandy” Hawkins

 

The legacy.

The nephew of Dian Belmont, Sandy Hawkins would go on to live any kid’s dream of becoming a superhero; Sandy the Golden Boy was the sidekick to the Sandman. The two would fight crime together when the cases had gone from basic murder mysteries to supervillains.

 

Teamwork!

Unfortunately, in a wild experiment gone wrong, Sandy would be transformed into a horrible sand monster. Welsey had to knock him out and put him in a stasis sleep. It wouldn’t be until decades later, when the Justice Society brought in many new members, when the new generation of heroes would be able to aide Sandy. He’d be given back his sanity and control over his new form, he’d take on the name of Sand and while being made of sand, fight with both his powers and Wesley’s sleeping gas guns. When Wesley died, Sandy inherited his prophetic dreams to continue the Sandman line.

 

The Mantle Passed On.

Sandy would realize that his powers were great and allowed him to control the Earth itself if he merged with it. He could stop cave ins and create underground cities if he chose. Along the way, Sandy would take on the Sandman mantle and become the second Sandman, wearing a suit similar to Wesley’s, but with gloves that could emit the sleeping gas. He’d become the JSA’s resident detective and spend most of his work behind the scenes to aide the team.

 

Rest in peace, you two.

As of the New 52, it is unknown what if anything is going on with Wesley Dodds, Dian Belmont, or Sandy Hawkins. Hopefully they return to help solve some mysteries the rest of the superheroes may overlook.

Suggested Reading
Adventure Comics #40
Justice Society of America
JSA: Secret Files
JSA
Justice Society
Sandman Mystery Theatre

Alexander Bustos
drbustos@comicattack.net

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