Friday, September 23, 2005

Golden Age Sandman: MURDERER!

Here's another example of the casualness that the Golden Age writers killed people. It's been noted before but bears repeating that the casual fans of today think of the Golden Age comics as quaint and toothless. The reality is the stories and heroes of the GA were really hard core. That people think the GA was just goofy comics is because of memories of the post-Wertham/Congress Silver Age and because modern writers depict the heroes of yesterday with fond nostalgia and as moralistic mentors.

From All Star Comics #2 (1940) is a story of one of my favorite Golden Age characters, the Sandman. I just can't get enough of him and I really enjoyed the Sandman Mystery Theater. The Sandman is a great pulp noir character and is really cool. SMT also has one of the few retcons I actually agree with in that the stupid yellow and purple costume era was just a comic book fantasy and did not really happen.

This tale is part one of an ensemble story called "The Glowing Globe". You don't get much more pulp-tastic than a mad scientist exposing people to a mysterious sphere that emits death rays so he can rob the joint! The story-telling format of the issue is a familiar one to Silver Age readers. The heroes split up and each has a part in the adventure before joining up at the end and pounding the bad guy into submission.

In the Sandman chapter, the hero defeats and disarms the evil scientist, the brother of the victim of the detective story, Sir Basil. The Sandman then starts in on some unnecessary exposition, forgetting that a gun is within reach of the evil-doer, who of course wakes up and goes for the pistol.

Not one to let a grave tactical error go unchallenged, the Sandman jumps the murderous sibling and forces him to turn the gun on himself, blowing his brains out. In a typical comic book wrap-up the Sandman's only feeling is relief since his secret identity of Wesley Dodds, that was earlier exposed in a struggle, is now once again safe.

Here's a close-up of Sir Basil's brother taking a bullet that goes in one temple and out the other. You can even see the round exiting to the lower right corner of the picture.

The look of shocked surprise on his face is priceless.


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