Superhero Origins: DC's Sandman

Superhero Origins: DC's Sandman
VOICE OVER: Dan Paradis
Script written by Craig Butler.

In 1939, millionaire Wesley Dodds donned the mantle of the Sandman. Possessing no super powers, and only a gas gun to put his enemies to sleep, he sought to put criminals to bed. In 1989 however, DC Vertigo and Neil Gaiman introduced The Sandman, aka Dream of the Endless. Gaiman's Sandman in an immortal and has since been inducted into the DC Universe through various tie-ins connecting him to Wesley Dodds. Join as we explore these tie-ins and the origins of DC's Sandman.

Script written by Craig Butler.

Superhero Origins: DC's Sandman

This is the kind of guy you dream about - literally. Welcome to and today we will explore the comic book origin of DC's Sandman.

As with most comic book characters, there are often re-imaginations and different versions to a character’s past. We have chosen primarily to follow the storyline which unfolded in 1989's The Sandman #1-2, which completely reimagined the characters originally introduced in both 1939's Adventure Comics #40 and 1974's Sandman #1, before being expanded upon 1990's Sandman #12 and 2012's Earth 2 #5.

The Sandman, also known as Dream of the Endless among many other names, made writer Neil Gaiman a fan favorite after his debut in 1989. But this Sandman, who was a being of almost God-like power who controlled the land of dreams and nightmares, was not the first DC character to bear the name.

The July 1939 issue of Adventure Comics introduced DC's first Sandman. A millionaire playboy by the name of Wesley Dodds, he would don an orange suit, purple cape and gas mask to fight crime. Though devoid of superpowers, he possessed a gas gun that put his foes to sleep.

A second Sandman turned up in 1974. Created by the legendary team of Joe Simon and Jack Kirby, this Sandman lived in the Dream Dimension. Aided by his nightmarish assistants, Brut and Glob, the Sandman helped protect children from dangerous nightmares. He would also sometimes venture outside the Dream Dimension to fight villains in the waking world.

This second Sandman was originally a scientist named Garrett Sanford. When he passed away, the mantel was taken up by Hector Hall, the hero formerly known as the Silver Scarab, in 1988.

However, all of these previous Sandmen were mere mortals, whereas Dream of the Endless was much more. Dream was one of a family of beings known as the Endless, who watched over various aspects of human – and non-human - life. In addition to Dream, other Endless beings included his older siblings, Destiny and Death, and the younger Desire, Despair and Delirium. The family is many billions of years old, and how they came to be is unknown: they simply seem to have come into existence fully formed. Even what they actually are is hard to pin down. Perhaps "anthropomorphic personification," as Death once called them, is the best way to describe them.

In his premier outing, Dream was captured by a master of the black arts named Roderick Burgess. Burgess had been attempting to imprison Death but ended up with Dream by mistake. He and his son held Dream captive for more than seven decades. During this time, the land where the Sandman lives – known as the Dreaming - fell into decay and disrepair. Through retroactive continuity, both the 1939 and 1974 incarnations of Sandman are thusly explained to be the products of Dream’s absence.
Dream eventually maneuvered an escape. He vented his rage on his remaining captor by sentencing him to a life of nightmares from which he can never awaken. The Sandman then returned to “the Dreaming” to set it right and to recapture his tools which had been taken from him during his imprisonment.

During one of Dream's later adventures, readers discovered that neither Garrett Sanford nor Hector Hall had really been in charge of their lives as the Sandman. Brut and Glob had abandoned their posts while Dream was imprisoned. They had recruited Sanford and Hall to act as their playthings – a fact that displeased Dream very much.
Dream's series ended in 1996, but other characters have since popped up using the Sandman identity. In recent years, DC's New 52 re-launch introduced a new version of Sandman, with a character named Wesley Dodds once again playing the role.
Speaking of Dodds, the original Sandman has popped up in comic books many times over the decades – and even onto the small screen. Dream technically shows up any time you fall asleep, but that’s not really canonical.

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