Views & Reviews From Writer Steve Miller
Formerly Reviews and Stuff at Rotten Tomatoes, 2005 - 2009.

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Sunday, January 30, 2005

'Golden Age Sandman' is comics history,
but it still disappointed

Golden Age Sandman Archives, Vol. 1 (DC Comics, 2004)
Writer: Gardner Fox, Ogden Whitney,
Artists: Bert Christman, Creig Flessel,
Rating: Six of Ten Stars

From the first time I saw him in an issue of "Justice League of America" (during one of those way cool crossovers between Earth One and Earth Two that were an annual tradition in that title), I had all sorts of ideas for the Golden Age Sandman. There was just something about his look I liked. I wanted to see more of him, and I made up my own stories. I even submitted a couple story proposals to DC Comics in the early 1990s, but they were rejected.

When the Sandman was revived in "Sandman Mystery Theater", I followed the title until the very end. I was disappointed that it didn't have the feel of the old-time movies from the 1930s and 1940s, but it was decent enough. I also didn't quite like the way Wesley Dodds was portrayed, but mostly because he didn't fit with how I'd imagined he should be.

But, the Sandman still remained a visual favorite of mine, so when I saw that DC had released the earliest tales as part of their Archive Edition series, I had to get it.

Unfortunately, the Golden Age Sandman is still better in my imagination than he's ever been in print.

The tales presented in this hardbound book are interesting historical artifacts as far as the development of the comic book medium goes, but they really are not all that good. They have the choppiness of a newspaper strip that was a frequent weakness of early comics, and they feature artwork which is only slightly better than the norm of the day. Worse, the recycling and swiping of panels that artists did to keep their deadlines is embarrassingly evident in several stories.

All that said, the stories are better than a lot of those found in comics from the early 1940s, and the reprinted covers are very cool.

I don't regret buying the book, but it's hard for me to recommend to others unless you're a Big Time Fan of early Golden Age comics. AS much as I remain enamoured by the look of the Golden Age Sandman, this material simply doesn't warrant the upscale format it's presented in... nor the $50 price tag.

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