Monday, May 30, 2016

The Sting of the Sandman

When we later Baby Boomers first met the Justice Society of America in Flash 123 (Sept. 1961), Flash 129 (June 1962) and Flash 137 (June 1963), and then again in Justice League of America 21 and 22 (Aug.-Sept 1963), we undoubtedly thought we’d hit the jackpot. Our roster of superheroes had doubled instantly!
We swiftly sorted these intriguing “older newcomers” into the variations-on-a-theme heroes (Flash, Green Lantern, Hawkman, the Atom, Wonder Woman, Batman and Superman) and the unique heroes (Hourman, Dr. Fate, the Spectre, Dr. Mid-Nite, the Sandman, and others).
Created by writer Gardner Fox and artist Bert Christman for Adventure Comics 40 (July 1939), the Sandman drew on inspirations that predated the smash-hit heroes Superman and Batman. Wealthy Wesley Dodds wore a gas mask, fedora and stylized, caped business suit, wielded a gas gun to kayo criminals and was pursued by police as a criminal. One ancestor was obvious: the dramatic radio hero Green Hornet, who had premiered in 1936 (who was himself inspired by his great-uncle, the Lone Ranger, a radio hero who’d bowed in 1933).
The Sandman was “Batmaned-up” with yellow-and-purple tights and a boy sidekick in Adventure Comics 69 (Dec. 1941). But his distinctive pulp hero look was restored, thankfully, during his 1960s JLA revival.

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