Wesley Dodds: The Sandman #1 is published by DC Comics, written by Robert Venditti, art by Riley Rossmo, colors by Ivan Plascencia, and letters by Tom Napolitano. In 1940s Manhattan, the Sandman seeks to reclaim control over the criminals in the city.
The plot of this issue is a great period piece, blending the concept of a noir story with superheroes. The setting is very interesting, and the pacing matches the tones. It’s a mysterious investigative book. The Sandman himself bookmarks the issue, while the middle of the comic is heavily centered around Wesley Dodds. The opening brings up the concept of nightmares, the biggest motif of The Sandman, but the rest of the comic is historical intrigue and exposition. The storytelling bogs down slightly in the middle of the issue, with the point of a meeting between the characters getting lost in the dialogue. Still, both the actions of violence and romance soon bring the pace and enthusiasm back. Once the gas mask comes back on, the horror elements of the comic resurface. The notion of putting bad guys to sleep naturally slows the book down, but that pace benefits the unsettling aura that the Sandman has. The ending suddenly gets frantic, squealing to a stop that escalates the story and breaks the status quo that had barely started.
The dialogue is fascinating as one of DC’s most enigmatic figures is explored further. Following his appearance in Knight Terrors, Vendittit looks closer at the character. Wesley Dodds, a very rich scientist with a fixation on sleeping gas, is particularly mild-mannered and quiet. Awkward around authority figures and lacking confidence, he isn’t the same personality when he puts on that mask. There, he becomes more sinister, standing up against criminals and corruption. The narration is smooth, like what is found in a noir comic. Those captions are incredibly self-deprecating, criticizing everything he does and signaling that his confidence is a bigger problem.
The art is fantastic. Rossmo is a distinctive artist, perfect for making little worlds the individual heroes call home. This can be seen in both Tim Drake: Robin and Harley Quinn, which is repeated here. 1940’s Manhattan is given a rustic, haunting charm. The old vehicles are stunning, as are the outfits. The design of Wesley and the Sandman is terrific, as he never looks like a traditional superhero. With a geeky face and massive round glasses, Dodds is closer to adorable than he is intimidating. But when he is The Sandman, everything changes. Rossmo’s take on the costume is fascinating. He’s tall and imposing, standing somewhat awkwardly. When he fights, it’s pulpy and clumsy. Dodds isn’t Batman, but he can brawl. The opening of the issue has a montage of the heroes from the Justice Society of America, displaying even more amazing designs.
The colors are excellent. Plascencia doesn’t fall into the trap of simply using browns and beige colors like other comics set in that era. While those tones are utilized during Dodds’ meeting with a military man, other scenes are much more elaborate and vibrant. Wesley’s partner, Dian, is always dressed to the nines with lovely dresses and outfits and is the brightest person in the room. Red fills the book more by the end of the issue, invoking a frantic attitude that isn’t present in the pages preceding it. The lettering is extremely dynamic, and the SFX is extraordinarily impressive. The sirens in the final part of the comic wrap around objects and fill the air, blaring across the page to demonstrate how extreme the volume is.
Wesley Dodds: The Sandman #1 gives the vigilante a whole time period to himself. An immersive, individual world is created for Wesley Dodds to express himself. This is a figure that has always struggled to exist in traditional superhero comics because nothing about The Sandman is traditional. And so, the book toys with the noir genre to make it fit the character perfectly. It’s a romantic, atmospheric book that puts more into Sandman’s supporting cast and wider lore. And there isn’t a better artist around for the job of providing people and places with personality than Rossmo.
Wesley Dodds: The Sandman #1
Wesley Dodds: The Sandman #1 gives the vigilante a whole time period to himself. An immersive, individual world is created for Wesley Dodds to express himself.