by Alan Kistler
Wesley Dodds was born in the early 20th century to wealthy investor Edward Dodds and his wife Marina. In 1917, when he was still a young child, Wesley's mother died under unrevealed circumstances (it is assumed she suffered from some illness). Coincidentally (or so it would seem), this was the same year when the otherwordly being Morpheus, the king of dreams, was captured in physical form and held prisoner in the material world. His absence from the realm of dreams caused many ripples through the minds and dreams of many on Earth.
Little is known of Wesley's early life. It's know that traveled much with his father, going from Europe to the South Seas and finally spending quite a few years of his youth in the Far East. It was there that he learned Oriental herbalism, martial arts and origami.
Wesley finally went to college, studying business as well as chemistry. After college and his father's death, Wesley became the manager of a vast estate in Manhattan and an investor in his own right. But about 1938, Wesley became plagued by vivid nightmares of violence and death. It was a short while later that Wesley read the criminal reports in the newspaper and realized that he was suffering from some form of precognitive dreams. The dreams continued, progressively growing more extreme and frightening. Occasionally, Wesley would see Morpheus in these dreams. This was due to the fact that the ripple effect caused by Morpheus's imprisonment had reached Wesley now and had reacted to him in a unique fashion.
Wesley finally hit upon the idea to do something about his restless nights. He decided that by confronting the criminals who caused his dream in the first place, he would regain peaceful slumber. What's more, his conscience would be eased by finally taking action against the forces his dreams warned him about. He used his fortune to set-up a private lab, where he began developing formulas for sedative and hypnotic gasses. These would be used as a non-lethal means to combat his foes. He developed a wire-poon gun with which he could scale walls and rooftops. Wesley then bought several kinds of gas masks, which would protect him from his own gas, while at the same time concealing his identity. Since there were no public heroes or flashy "mystery-men" at the time, Wesley did not think to wear a colorful jumpsuit or costume. Instead, he simply wore his every day clothes and decided that when the time came to pursue criminals, all he would have to do was put on his gas mask and take out his weapons. With all of this ready, he set out under his new alias of … The Sandman.
In his first case, the Sandman attempted to track down the "Phantom of the Fair", an individual who haunted the 1938 World's Fair. During the case, he discovered the Crimson Avenger, a man who had started his own career as a masked vigilante a few months earlier than Wesley. The Crimson Avenger was secretly Lee Travis, an old college chum of Wesley's. The two initially fought but eventually joined forces against the Phantom of the Fair. Soon afterwards, Travis gave Wesley a gun design that the Sandman ultimately perfected as his new gas-gun. The Sandman then started his career in earnest, first confronting the Tarantula, a serial murderer. It was during this case that he met socialite Dian Belmont, daughter of District Attorney Larry Belmont. The two soon became lovers and, by year's end, Wesley had shared the secret of his dual life with her.
For reasons unknown, Wesley's dreams tended to focus on the more dangerous and psychotic of the criminal lot. Thus, he saw far more darkness than many of his later associates. Whereas Green Lantern and Flash often fought wacky super-villains like the Rag Doll and the Fiddler, the Sandman pursued serial murders and homicidal rapists.
Each time the Sandman struck, he left the defeated criminal with a poem enclosed in a bit of origami. The poem he left most commonly read:
"There is no land beyond the law
Where tyrants rule with unshakable power!
'Tis but a dream from which the evil wake
To face their fate, their terrifying hour!"
In late 1940, the Sandman became involved in a case alongside several other American mystery-men of the time. The others present included: the Green Lantern (Alan Scott), the original Flash (Jay Garrick), Hawkman (Carter Hall), the Atom (Al Pratt), the Spectre, Dr. Fate (Kent Nelson) and Johnny Thunder. This encounter led to the formation of the original Justice Society of America (or JSA), the world's first team of heroes.
During a costume ball, Wesley dismissed the obvious ploy of coming in as the Sandman and instead wore a yellow and purple jumpsuit. Dian took a liking to this outfit. Later on, Wesley and Dian took over legal guardianship of Dian's nephew, a boy named Sanderson "Sandy" Hawkins. Sandy soon found out about Wesley's double life and the athletic boy insisted on becoming Wesley's sidekick. He adopted a yellow and red jumpsuit and decided to call himself "Sandy, the Golden Boy." Wesley eventually conceded to this and the two became partners. Sandy had no intention of wearing a clumsy gas mask though, and so Wesley developed special compact nose-filters for him.
At the same time, World War II was breaking out and the public was becoming very nervous. People found themselves often looking to the JSA as a symbol of the goodness still in their country. Wesley decided that his own macabre appearance (trench coat and gas mask) was possibly detrimental to the optimistic inspiration he and his colleagues were now a part of. He believed that people might trust him more if he wore a bright costume like his contemporaries, thus reflecting the hope he meant to inspire. He did not act on a costume change immediately, preferring to spend some time during his civilian hours to get back into shape (he'd gotten somewhat chubby). When he regained a more athletic build, he then modified the gold-and-purple costume he'd worn at the ball and used it to replace his normal outfit. Like Sandy, he too now wore nose-filters rather than a gas mask.
During a case in 1945, a being known as Stalker sought to wipe out all life from Earth. He used seven demonic disciples which he spread across the world. One was a giant who was sent to New York. The giant also had the power to induce madness in those around him and caused much of the New York crowd to riot and attack the Sandman and Sandy. Sandman found suddenly that his bright costume was working against him, as he could no longer hide in shadows. He also found that his mere gas and wire-poon guns were ineffective against the giant. By the case's end, he decided to pursue development of a new high-tech silicoid weapon he'd thought of.
Sometime later, the JSA became involved in a case with Per Degaton and the energy villain Ian Karkull. The JSA won, but as a result of the battle Karkull's body exploded, unleashing temporal energies on those nearby. Thus, Sandman (along with the others present) was suddenly blessed with a retarded aging rate.
By late 1945, Wesley was beginning to show signs of familial heart disease. With this in mind, and with the fact that his dreams began to come less frequently, Wesley decided to retire from active-duty in the JSA. He kept up his activities as a vigilante, though far less regularly now. He abandoned his gold-and-purple outfit and went to a look more reminiscent of his original outfit. It was a green suit with a purple cape and a more compact gas mask.
In 1947, Wesley was perfecting his silicoid gun when it suddenly exploded during a test. The explosion inadvertently transformed Sandy Hawkins into a sand-like monster, a silicon-based lifeform. The transformation was so traumatic that Sandy suffered from a raving delirium. Catching his former teammate in a moment of weakness, Wesley was able to sedate the boy. After much research, Wesley found that he was unable to treat Sandy's condition. He didn't want to contact outside help though, for fear that the public would discover and then demand that the "monster" be destroyed. To protect his protégé, Wesley placed Sandy in a special chamber in his basement which was fed a constant flow of sedation gas.
After these events, Wesley was so wracked with guilt that he quit his heroic identity entirely. Thus, he avoided the H.U.A.C. hearings of 1951, which led to the JSA disbanding. By the time of these hearings, the nightmares had stopped. Wesley remained in retirement for some time, living peacefully with Dian. On occasion, a case would spring up that would force him to don the gas mask again, but these were few and far between.
Many years later, superhumans began to emerge again and eventually a team formed in homage to Wesley and his contemporaries, calling itself the Justice LEAGUE of America. Within a few months, Locus, an organization bent on world domination, stole certain files form the JLA member known as the Martian Manhunter. These files contained the identities of most of the costumed heroes on Earth, past and present. Locus and their allies, the alien Appellaxians, rounded up all the heroes they could, including Wesley and his former teammates. Eventually, the JLA freed their fellow heroes and the JSA found itself back in action as it helped fight back the Appellaxians who were attempting to overthrow Earth. When the adventure ended, the JSA returned to retirement. This was not to remain the case, however. Months later, three former JSA foes teamed-up with three JLA foes in order to join forces against their combined enemies. Once again, the JSA was forced into action alongside their successors and after the case was closed, the team decided to at least resume a semi-active status.
A couple of years later, an interruption in the gas sedation of Sandy allowed him to escape his chamber. Sandy's silicoid body was sensitive to seismic variations in the Earth. Thus, he was driven to a rampage due to the intense pain he was feeling by the seismic variations of an impending earthquake. Working together, the JLA and JSA subdued Sandy. He revealed that he was not only lucid, but also had been conscious for all the years that the Sandman had kept him imprisoned. Sandy then was sent to a series of research labs and hospitals in an attempt to find a treatment for his condition.
The Sandman was nearly crushed by the shame of his pride and ignorance in not seeking other help for Sandy immediately. Some months later, the Sandman discovered that a disgruntled former scientist (now known as the Shatterer) had kidnapped Sandy from the research facility where he'd been under observation. The Shatterer was using his own technology and the seismic "focusing" properties of Sandy's silicoid body to generate enormous seismic currents and wreak vengeance on his former colleagues. Using a carbon-based ray similar to the silicon-based ray that originally transformed the boy, the Sandman reverted Sandy to his human appearance (though it was later revealed that he is still no longer a carbon-based life form). The Shatterer was enraged at the loss of his resource, but an unexpected final "aftershock" was released from Sandy's body which opened the ground beneath the Shatterer and caused him to fall to his death. Due to the fact that his silicoid body had been immune to the aging process, Sandy Hawkins was the same age he had been when he was originally transformed. Since then, he has aged as a normal human would. Cured of his dementia, he forgave Wesley and the two resumed a partnership of sorts whenever there was a case that called for action.
A couple of years later, Wesley suffered a stroke and decided to restrict his activities somewhat. Later on though, he and Sandy participated alongside Earth's heroes during The Crisis. Soon after the Crisis ended, the JSA was approached by their old teammate the Spectre. The Spectre explained that the ancient talisman known as the Spear of Destiny had been discovered by the terrorist Kobra. The Spear had been Hitler's during the war and the man's hatred had been so strong that his dying wish for Ragnarok to occur was still imprinted on it, merely waiting for enough magical energy to make it so. (Ragnarok is the final battle of the Norse gods which will cause the end of the world). During a battle with Kobra, the Spear had wounded the Spectre and had siphoned off enough of his energy to begin the attack on the Norse gods, who inhabited Limbo. Hence, if the gods died, the world would end. There was only one way to stop it. The Spectre told the JSA that the Norse gods needed their aid to ensure victory. The JSA agreed. Knowing that they may never see Earth again, and knowing that their loved ones may not be able to handle this intense situation, they allowed the general public to believe they were dead. They then went off to Limbo (Sandman and Sandy included). There, they were endowed with magical energy that restored their youth and increased their vitality. They fought against the forces of darkness and won. But the Spear could not accept defeat and so caused a time-loop to restart the events as if they hadn't occurred yet, forcing the JSA to endure the same battle over again. This time-loop continued for as long as the JSA were trapped in Limbo.
Three years later, the demon lord Abraxis sought to conquer Earth's dimension. Using his vast power, he attacked four points of Earth in time. The time-traveler Waverider dispatched Earth's heroes between these four points in time to combat the threat. But it became clear that to ultimately defeat Abraxis, they needed another strike force to attack the demon lord himself in his own dimension. The Spectre contacted Waverider and told him of the JSA in Limbo. Working in conjunction, the Spectre and Waverider were able to halt the battle for Ragnarok long enough for the JSA to enter Abraxis's dimension and defeat the demon lord. During the battle, they found that they could transfer their magical Norse energies into the inhabitants and thus grant them powers which they could use to aid in the fight. As a result, when they gave up their Norse energies they reverted to the age they'd been when they first entered Limbo. When the battle was finished, Waverider thought it would be a tragic fate to simply return the Justice Society to their perpetual battle in Limbo. Thus, he instead transported Abraxis's henchmen to take their place alongside the Norse gods. No longer needed to fight against Ragnarok, the JSA were free to return to Earth once more. After re-uniting with their friends and family back home, they resumed a semi-active status as a team.
About a year later, the crisis known as Zero Hour ensued. One of the preliminary battles involved most of the current JSA going on a full assault against Extant, the temporal villain who was apparently behind the whole mess. During the battle, Extant used his chronal energies to age all the JSA members. Wesley in particular was aged to just about his true, chronological age. When the dust had settled, three JSAers were dead and some of the others were now too old to continue. The Justice Society retired once more.
Wesley settled in with Dian and the two lived together very peacefully. After Zero Hour, Wesley's identity became public knowledge and his office ended up becoming filled with Sandman memorabilia. By this time, Dian had become a very successful author and had won several awards, so the two were practically a celebrity couple. Later on, Morpheus, the dream king, died and Wesley was one of the few living beings invited to the wake (some of the others invited included the Batman, Superman, John Constantine, Martian Manhunter and the Phantom Stranger).
At one point, Jack Knight (the new Starman and son of Wesley's former teammate Ted) asked Wesley for help on a case. Matters got worse and Wesley found himself again donning his original gas mask in order to help Jack in the matter (despite the fact that he needed a cane to walk). When all was finished, Wesley found a renewed desire to lead more than just a quiet retired life. He and Dian liquidated their assets and resolved to spend their last days traveling the world once more.
Dian Belmont passed away shortly after they two arrived in the Orient. A few months later, Wesley Dodds became aware of grand events that were about to occur. A child was to be born soon who would become the new Dr. Fate. But a being known as Mordru, the Dark Lord, was intent on preventing this. Working hastily, Wesley contacted old acquaintance Speed Saunders and the current being known as the Gray Man (the Gray Man is an individual chosen to be a mystical custodian over dreams and nightmares). They narrowed the baby's identity down to three possibilities and then went their separate ways. Wesley was finally confronted by Mordru in Tibet. Knowing that his frail body could very well succumb to the Dark Lord's torture, Wesley decided he couldn't take the risk that he would betray what he knew. And so, he took his own life instead, leaping from the mountain top on which he was standing and breathing in his own gas so that he would be unconscious before he hit the ground below. Two days later, he was laid to rest at the mystery-man cemetery that has been nicknamed "Valhalla."
Before his death, Wesley had told Speed Saunders that it was now Sandy's turn to dream. The night after Wesley's death, Sandy was plagued by a nightmare of that past. In it, he saw Daniel, the new king of dreams who replaced Morpheus. Thus, it appears that Sandy Hawkins has been chosen to inherit Wesley's prophetic dreams. He has resumed his activities as an adventurer, although he no longer uses a secret identity and does not like to be called by the nickname Sandy anymore (he thinks it sounds too kiddy). His friends and teammates call him "Sand" for short (as his full name is Sanderson Hawkins). Sand employs technology similar to Wesley's Sandman weapons and carries on his mentor's tradition of fighting injustice as a member of the newly formed JSA.
Wesley Dodds was highly knowledgeable in the field of chemistry. He was skilled in the art of Origami and was a trained martial artist. He knew several languages and was a student of many cultures and belief systems. He was also skilled in the use of firearms
None, although for many years he was gifted (or "cursed") with prophetic dreams.
The Sandman used various gas guns, employing both sedative and hypnotic chemicals. He occasionally used sedative darts that were concealed in his outfit.
The Sandman was armed with wire-poon guns that shot out grappling hooks. He also wore various gas masks to protect himself from his own weapons and conceal his identity. For a brief period of his career, he decided to forego the gas mask in favor of special compact nose-filters.
After Zero Hour, when Wesley was turned to nearly his true age, he suffered a slight loss of hearing and had to wear a hearing aid. He also suffered from a weak heart.
This article is © 1999 Alan Kistler.
All characters are © DC Comics