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Intentional or Unintentional?

by  in Comic News Comment

Here’s a new game! I show you an instance of something in comics I found hilarious, and you tell me if the humor was intentional or unintentional! Unintentional humor is mainly the stuff that places like What Were They Thinking? and Superdickery specialize in. You know, like some innocent enough panel from 1955 that, looked upon in the context of 2007, seems hilarious.

Today’s entry? Last week’s Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man Annual #1, detailing the origin of the Sandman. (Read more to see the details, so you can make your pick)


In the issue, young William Baker is seen building a sand castle with his drunkard mother, who has passed out on the beach while he makes his castle. He naps next to her, and when they awake, she remarks that “the sandman came to visit you? That’s nice.”

However, he soon finds that the sand castle has been destroyed by the sea. He is distraught.

Her reaction? “Well…that’s pretty much the way of the world, honey. Nothing lasts. Not art. Not relationships. Nothing. Everything goes away sooner or later.” Thus, young William Baker determines that he will create something that “won’t be washed away by the sands of time.”

Later on, a little older, William is shown creating sand sculptures in art class. He is a gifted sculptor. Some bullies destroy all his sculptures in front of him and beat him badly.

He then spent time at the beach, examining the sand at the beach, and seeing how it interacted with water, changing shape to move with the water. He spent “the next month, every spare moment, practicing moving like sand and water.”

So then, when the bullies tried to beat him up again, they couldn’t catch him, because William has practiced being like sand. He thinks to himself, “You can’t hurt me. Every time you think you have your hands on me I slip through your fingers, like water. Like sand.”

That’s basically it for the sand references. The comic, as a whole, is pretty good, only hurt by the hilariously lame sand references (which is a pretty big drawback, though). Once the sand references cease, I’d say the comic was actually quite good. David did a really good job establishing Sandman’s early years as a crook, and his relationship with his father was interesting AND tied into recent issues of Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man (but not overtly so, which was nice).

Anyhow, so here’s the challenge – Peter David is certainly a funny guy, so it is clearly possible that he placed all those silly sand references in the comic as a joke. But what do you think? Did he add those sand references seriously, or did he add them as a joke?

Do you think that the humor of all the sand references was… Intentional or Unintentional?