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on 5 April 1999
Nobody has reviewed this book. You're kidding me right? This has to be the finest detective series modern comics has produced in years and no one has reviewed it? Yeesh. The Sandman was one of DC Comics earliest characters, and little more than a glorified Batman clone at best. But Wagner and artist Guy Davis take the walking cliche and make him into a driven individual determined to right injustice. But its the world of the classic Sandman that is so good: its the real New York of the '30s, complete with speakeasies and dives, the Depression, and immigrants; not at all like the WASPs usually populating the comics of the 1930s and '40s. The characters are 3D, especially the Sandman's alter-ego Wesley Dodds and his future girlfriend Diane Belmont. She in particular holds the reader's interest, because she is clearly the most capable detective, even though no one takes her seriously. No one save Wesley. . .and the Sandman. Fans of Neil Gaiman's fiction may know Morpheus, and a little about Wesley Dodds. But they don't know the whole story until they pick up this excellent graphic novel. Sadly, Sandman Mystery Theatre ended its run not long ago, but for the adventurous there's still a chance to find back issues in your local comic shop. Now if they'd only start collecting this excellent series in trade paperbacks, I'd be a happy man.
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In the 1930's/1940's there were a great many comic book superheroes and masked vigilanties created, many of whom had rather short publishing lives. One was wesley dodds, the sandman. new york resident and skilled detective, he solves crimes by dressing up in a suit and gasmask and spraying people with a gas of his own making that knocks you out and makes you tell the truth.

When Neil Gaiman wrote his acclaimed comics fantasy sandman, he took the name of the character, but kept nothing else, creating an all new work. although wesley did make two brief appearances in the sandman.

However, in the early 1990's vertigo comics, who do comics tackling mature themes for grown up readers, resurrected the original sandman for an all new series. They called it sandman mystery theatre to differentiate it from the gaiman version.

This collects the first four part story, in which new york city is in the grip of fear as a serial killer called the tarantula is on the loose. At the same time, dian belmont, free spirited daughter of the DA, meets socialite wesley dodds. Both are caught up in the case. and there's an unedeniable attraction.

A wonderful series that worked on so many levels. a superb love story involving two characters you really care about, a gritty detective mystery, a superb evocation of 1930's new york: this is pulp fiction and film noir done for the comics page. and if the style of both genres appeals to you, then you'll love this. Interestingly stylish artwork from guy davis really captures the required atmosphere and makes this something special
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First of all let me say that people who are looking for a title themed like Neil Gaimans Sandman, this book is not it. This title ties in a little bit every now and then but that's it for comparisation, it's a totally different ball-park, a totally different sort of comic. What this is is a very fine (non-supernatural) detective story (this particular book collects #1-4, the complete "Tarantula" story-arc) based around "The Sandman", a revamped character from the early days of DC. The Sandman is a guy with a secret identity dressed in a John Constatine coat, an Al Capone hat, a gasmask and a gaspistol, who acts as a secret detective and tries to solve crimes his way.
About the story: An anonymous kidnapper who calls himself 'The Tarantula, is on the loose and he claims his vistims rapidly. He shows to be extremely violent and not fearing any act of brutality to show he's meaning business in getting what he wants. The police are without a clue and don't know where to start. And does the Tarantula really pick his victims so randomly ? Meanwhile the commisioners daughter has taken an interest in a young man named Wesley Dodds who seems remarkably interested in the case, and there's also the mystery of the man who's going all over town wearing a gasmask and carying a gaspistol, attacking people who seem possibly related to the Tarantula.
Like I said, it's not a Gaiman's Sandman type of book but more of a detective book set in a time about 60 years back. While reading it you'll really get the feeling you're watching a police detective series on TV. People who enjoy titles like Sin City and possibly even Top Ten lovers (provided they don't have a problem with this book not involving characters that aren't out of the ordinary) will have a very good time with it. It's a complex story which requires some attention while reading but it's very much worth it in the end. Try it out sometimes because the fact this book was never a big hit doesn't say anything about it's quality.
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