While I enjoyed DCUC18, I’m still of the mindset that DCUC19, with its JSA theme, was a bastion of greatness in an otherwise dull year for DC Classics. Sandwiched between a wave of Geoff Johns’ Rainbow Deputies and Brightest Day figures, the classic characters featured here were a 2011 bright spot.
I’ve actually had this wave in hand for months, but have been unwilling or unable to get S.T.R.I.P.E. Week on the schedule. There’s been a lot of other stuff to review, but truthfully – once S.T.R.I.P.E. Week is done, that means I’ve gotta do a Nekron Week and that’s kinda depressing. If you’ve been reading IAT long, you know I’m a huge DC fan (the Phantom of the Fair makes an appearance in this review for cryin’ out loud) and you can imagine that I don’t run the DCClassics.Com checklist out of mere passive interest in the line.
And yet, last year was really a hard year to get excited about the line. I enjoyed the Bane Wave, but had some QC issues. The Rainbow Deputies and the Super Friends were cool figures, but were a bit much when released en masse. This wave made it feel like things were looking up, but then came the dullest wave yet with Wave 20. Truth be told, I haven’t even shipped the Nekron Wave out of my BTTS Pile of Loot yet (and I paid for that wave on Christmas Day). I’ve just been kinda blah on the line, the theme waves, the over-reliance on Geoff Johns work, and the lack of “flavor” previous years had. Toy Fair, Rocket Red aside, has kinda righted the ship. 2012 is actually looking up, so it’s a good time to get back on the horse and review some DC Classics.
So, yay, S.T.R.I.P.E. Week is finally here! As usual, I’m going to kick off with my favorite figure from the wave. Enter the Sandman.
You may not know it, but comic characters don’t get much cooler than the Sandman. Whether you want to talk about him in terms of fictional history or publication history, this is a not-superhero character that was introduced when superheroes were becoming all the rage. Though it wasn’t invented yet, spandex was in and the pulp heroes, the mysterymen, were a dying breed. 1939 saw the introduction of characters like Batman, Blue Beetle, & Captain Marvel. That’s when Wesley Dodds dons his iconic gas mask, throws on a cape for good measure, and sets out to take down criminals with his trusty gas gun. Now, I love the Shadow, Crimson Avenger, and characters of that sort, but Sandman wasn’t just a loner, he ended up being incorporated into the Justice Society and his mysteryman feel always made him a standout character to me.
Think about the classic image of the original eight members of the JSA: a speedster, a guy with a magic ring, a guy in a bird-suit, a ghost, a mystic, a guy on drugs, a little dude in a wrestling suit, and then Sandman in his business attire. Admittedly, Sandman would get his spandex makeover (and a sidekick to boot) just a few years after joining up, but this figure is from when Sandman was wonderfully out of place. He dressed snazzy, he had futuristic gear, his girlfriend accompanied him (and the writers actually treated her like a character instead of a plot device), and, funnily enough, he got shot/hurt all the time, but soldiered on.
Sandman wasn’t used a lot in the post-JSA years (in fact, there’s more than a few other Sandmen at DC), but his badassery did earn him a slightly out-of-continuity Vertigo series (how many JSAers can claim that?) and he lived pretty far in modern times. His death was on his own terms, opting to kill himself to take a secret to his grave rather than letting the secret of Dr. Fate’s return fall into the hands of evil. I love almost all of the JSA characters, but Sandman will always be my favorite. I had hoped to find them for this review, but he’s one of a handful of DC characters I’ve customized in various scales over the years. I even had to give a speech about “making something” in college and did “How to make a Sandman Custom”. Yes, folks, I’m that lame.
The reason I was able to make that custom years ago was because it wasn’t too difficult with suit bodies and capes readily available. Mattel was in a similar situation when it came to their Sandman, needing only to develop a new head and a new suit jacket. The body is donated entirely from the Question, right down to the gloves and shoes, while the cape is borrowed from Hourman.
The two new pieces are sufficient to get the job done. The new coat is mostly par for the course, something Mattel re-use on future mysterymen (Crimson Avenger…) though it does have a nifty little loop to stow Wesley’s Gas gun. The key to getting Sandman right is in the gas mask and the 4H knocked it out of the park. The piece could be a little bigger (Wes has to have a tiny head in there – which would explain why he buys tiny hats), but the 4H did a great job of catching that the blue areas are a little recessed and making sure the figure doesn’t look like he has a bucket over his head like the DC Direct figure did some years ago. Continue to Page 2…