11. Sandman/Wesley Dodds
I was only vaguely aware of the Golden Age Sandman when I started reading Sandman Mystery Theatre. I had seen him in a few JLA books, but that’s about it. I was always intrigued by this guy in a trench coat, fedora and gas mask; as he looked so different from all of the other Earth-Two heroes. I remember that Justice League of America #46 was one of the first Silver Age books I actively tracked down because I just had to know about this guy.
SMT was a revelation. It started during my undergrad years in Montreal – I wasn’t reading too many comics back then as money was scarce and the nearest LCS was far enough away that I’d probably drop the ‘L’. The closet store to my apartment was an artsy-fartsy bookstore on St. Denis that carried a small selection of comics like Maus and Love & Rockets. Luckily, they carried some Vertigo books. I saw this strange looking comic called Sandman Mystery Theatre and thought it might be worth checking out.
I am ever glad I did. In my opinion, there was no finer series published in the 90s. I never missed an issue and was completely enthralled by this lead character who was the unlikeliest of heroes. The great thing about Wesley Dodds is that he’s an everyman (well, except for the cash). He isn’t exactly the most ‘buff’ of heroes, his got bad eyesight and he hairline is in freefall. He’s a quiet fellow and seems quite shy. It took a very strong woman, in Dian Belmont, to slowly bring Wes out of his shell. What a pair they make! What I really love about Wesley, though, is his need to become the Sandman. He is haunted by dreams, and the only way he can fight these inner demons is to step out into the night seeking justice. Quite often, he’s in way over his head and this makes him incredibly courageous as he only relies on a mixture of spooky intimidation and luck.
I was very sad when the series came to an end. There were any other books that gave me the same thrill as SMT. Since then, I’ve purchased the Sandman Archives to see where it all began. I know understand that right from the get go, Sandman was a very different hero – more in line with a pulp character like the Shadow or Phantom Detective than most of the DCU’s cape and tights set.