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DC Universe Classics
by yo go re

Hey, wait a minute: this isn't Morpheus!

The wealthy Wesley Dodds spent much of his youth in the far east where he learned martial arts and the wisdom of the ancients. In adulthood, Wesley was tortured by prophetic dreams that inspired him to create a gas mask, gas gun, and costume. As the Sandman, he used his skills and social connections to fight crime, eventually becoming a founding member of the Justice Society of America and serving with the All-Star Squadron.

Sandman is an interesting character, in that he is one of only a few characters to have more than one first appearance. The back of the packaging credits Adventure Comics #40, which is indeed one of the contenders - comics historians generally agree that that story (later known as "The Tarantula Strikes") was written first - but week or two before that issue would have hit newsstands, a Sandman story appeared in New York World's Fair Comics #1. Still, he was the first superhero to appear in Adventure, so there's that.

In modern comics, the interpretation of Wes Dodds is that he simply wore a normal, period-appropriate gasmask. But in the old comics, he's clearly wearing a custom-designed number, and that's what this figure has. The entire head is covered, not just the face. Can you absorb gas through your ears? Maybe. Or maybe it just helped the mask not slip off at an inopportune moment.

Sandman was inspired more by the Green Hornet than Superman - he started out wearing a suit instead of spandex. In his first appearance(s), Sandman wore an orange suit (which represented tan) and a green hat. That soon changed to a green suit and a tan hat, which is the scheme he stuck with until 1942, when he was turned into a more traditional superhero. This figure is the classic style, though, so the majority of his sculpt is shared with the Question: however, the new double-breated suit coat (with a hole in the back where the cape plugs in) helps keep him looking distinct. It's a very good sculpt, with wrinkles that fall naturally. The necktie is even a separate piece, glued to the chest under the jacket.

Not everything about this figure is straight from the Golden Age, however. For decades, his gas gun was drawn as a small, simple pistol, not unlike a Luger. It was redesigned in the '90s for the Sandman Mystery Theare series, which is the same place he got the normal mask and traded in his cape for a trenchcoat. The gun's new design has a normal handle, but the barrel is a large cylinder that actually looks like it could contain compressed gas. There's a hook on the butt of the gun, and a loop on his jacket so you can hang it away.

The gun hangs on the right side, but in tradional fashion, the Four Horsemen have decided to make Wes lefthanded. Oh, come on! They're having a go at us, right? They have to be doing it on purpose at this point! It has to be a running gag. There's no way to unknowingly sculpt the left hand with the trigger finger extended when you're hanging the gun on his right side. Sure, the index finger on the right hand sticks out a little, but the gun is molded from such soft pvc that you can't really get it in there. If you did pry the hand open and force the gun in there, maybe the left hand is just pointing at something of interest.

The BAF for Series 19 is the killer robot S.T.R.I.P.E. Sandman comes with the left leg, which is so tall it comes up to his shoulder. Good gravy! Most of the sculpt we've seen before, but now it's cast in white plastic with a pearly finish. There are no extravagant paint apps here: it's just all white, all the time.

When Sandman was revealed, some fans were disappointed that he was the Golden Age version rather than the more realistic Mystery Theatre version, and yes, that would have been a cool toy. But honestly, this one isn't bad either. I'm a bit surprised that Mattel didn't use his original original costume design as a variant, but he'll be a great addition to a JSA collection.

-- 12/07/11

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