Here is the latest in our year-long look at one cool comic (whether it be a self-contained work, an ongoing comic or a run on a long-running title that featured multiple creative teams on it over the years) a day (in no particular order whatsoever)! Here‘s the archive of the moments posted so far!
Today we look at Denny O’Neil “Sandman Saga” in Superman!
The “Sandman Saga” in Superman #233-235, 237-238, 240-242 was part of one of the most hyped comic book events of all-time (at the time). Between it and the hype over Jack Kirby coming to DC Comics, DC had a TON of hype in 1970, and the story began with one of the most famous comic covers of all-time…
After the Neal Adams cover, the first page of the comic (written by Denny O’Neil with art by Curt Swan and Murphy Anderson) described the storyline quite nicely…
Amazingly enough, just the first five story pages of Superman #233 had DRASTIC effects on the Superman mythos (this issue marked the beginning of Julie Schwartz’s tenure as the editor of the title, following Mort Weisinger’s 30 year run on the book as editor).
Check it out…
Pretty amazing, no?
No more kryptonite!!!
Clark Kent as a TV reporter!!!
All in the span of five pages!
Think of how shocking this is to read NOW, and just imagine how it read back in 1971!
And at the end of the issue, a mysterious figure rose from the sand where the experiment took place…
The gist of the story is that this “Sandman” drains Superman’s powers when the two come near each other.
We see this in effect in the next issue, when Superman is trying to help the workers of some jerk who won’t let his workers leave an island that might soon be overflowing with lava from a volcano on the island…
O’Neil takes this moment to express his take on how Superman views laws vs. morality…
Moral laws outweigh man-made ones.
In #235, Superman is actually saved by the Sandman!!
In #237 (#236 is not part of the storyline), Superman is stuck off-planet while he is stuck watching Lois near death – so Superman is forced to ask the Sandman for help…
Notice how the interaction with the Sandman alters Superman’s personality slightly (as seen by his reaction towards Lois).
Superman is now getting more and more drained by the Sandman.
O’Neil then brings in I-Ching, from the pages of Wonder Woman (which O’Neil also wrote), to help Superman regain his powers, but Superman seems to almost relish his new-found humanity…
You have to realize that this sort of take on Superman was DRAMATICALLY different from what was going on in the pages of Superman before O’Neil’s run.
O’Neil’s intent was to return Superman to his Golden Age roots, via a power reduction but also through emphasizing his humanity and his connection to humanity, rather than larger-than-life issues (granted, it was through an alien sapping his powers, but whatever).
However, when the Sandman Saga ended, so, too, did the “New Adventures of Superman,” as he was pretty much back to normal by next issue, and certainly completely back to normal in a year or so, except, of course, for the new “TV Newsman” aspect of the character.
There is a lot more at play during this story, including O’Neil’s increased pace of the book, his new approach to Metropolis and the very setting of Superman’s world (the rest of the city seemed to get a lot more sophisticated all of a sudden), the changes in fashion and, perhaps most importantly of the stuff I haven’t highlighted all ready, a change in how Clark Kent is perceived – no more “wimpy” Clark.
This is strong work, and it is a shame that it was pretty much ignored soon after it finished (heck, more kryptonite even came down to Earth pretty soon afterwards!).