The Sandman Saga (Superman)

The Sandman Saga (Superman)

Supercbbox| title = The Sandman Saga
schedule = Monthly
format =
publisher = DC Comics
date = January 1971 - September 1971
issues = ("Superman" (Vol. 1) #233-235, 237-238, 240-242)
main_char_team = Superman
past_current_color = background:#ffc0c0
writers = Denny O'Neil
artists = Curt Swan

"The Sandman Saga" refers to a Superman story arc published in 1971 in "Superman" (Vol. 1) #233 - 235, 237 - 238, 240 - 242. This storyline is historical as it was the first Superman storyline under editor Julius Schwartz, and it was the first Bronze Age-era Superman story.


Back in 1968, DC began to divorce itself from the superhero "camp" era that more or less began and ended with the broadcast run of the Batman television show. At that time, house ads appeared promising that "There's a new kind of Superman comin'!" And indeed there was, although it would be another three years before that "new Superman" arrived. While the art team of Andru & Esposito gave the art a "new" look, the stories were still pretty much the same ranging from "Imaginary" to "Red K". These would remain till the end of the decade.

In 1971, DC attempted to revamp and streamline the Superman universe. Many of the concepts from the post-Crisis incarnation of Superman, that first appeared in John Bryne's The Man of Steel, such as a powered down Superman, Intergang, the Cadmus Project, the Guardian, Darkseid, among others, were introduced during this attempt.

Mort Weisinger, the long-standing editor on the "Superman" titles, retired from his 30-year career at DC at the end of 1970. A prolific editor, DC decided to replace this one editor with four editors: Mike Sekowsky (Adventure Comics and Supergirl), Murray Boltinoff (Superboy, Action Comics and Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen), E. Nelson Bridwell (Superman's Girl Friend Lois Lane), and finally Julius Schwartz (World's Finest and Superman. While Sekowsky led Supergirl down a road on her own, the rest of the Superman editors came up with their own plan: using Superman to streamline the DC universe, kryptonite, imaginary stories, Mr. Mxyzptlk, Bizarro, Krypto, Jimmy Olsen's Elastic Lad stories, Lois Lane's Reptile Girls stories, and Superman's "King Kong" stories would all be removed and forgotten.

After a series of house ads that reached full pitch with two-page center-spreads, DC published "Superman" #233 in January 1971. With the tagline "The Amazing New Adventures of" above the "Superman" title, and the displayed "1" which was actually part of the slogan "Number 1 Best-Selling Comics Magazine," it almost led many to believe that the book was actually called "The Amazing New Adventures of Superman" #1. Interesting enough, it was this issue that DC learned that first issues, even pseudo-first issues, sell better.

Under writer Denny O'Neil, who was known from his memorable runs on the "Batman" books and "Green Lantern/Green Arrow", "Superman" #233 began the "Sandman Saga" that lasted till #242. The story would open up with an archetypal situation where a scientist is trying to create an engine powered by Kryptonite when the experiment goes awry. However, because of this "freak accident", all the kryptonite has become nothing more than harmless lead. Following up this astounding development, Clark Kent is reassigned thanks to his new boss, Morgan Edge, as a television reporter of WGBS, and O'Neil dumps the wimpy-Clark Kent persona.

During the story, O'Neil went inside the Man of Steel's head, illustrating Superman's resourcefulness in rescuing an inhabited island from an erupting volcano. Because the character, Sandman, is getting more of Superman's powers (before he eventually becomes Superman's "dark twin"), Superman becomes cleverer when he loses more of his powers. And in the end, illustrating the whole rationale for Superman being a superhero in the first place. For example, when Boysie Harker, the owner of the island, is within his legal right when he kills inhabitants when they flee his island, Superman defies the local laws because, as he says, "there's a moral law that's above some man-made laws!"

The purpose, if not the key, of this entire storyline wouldn't be revealed until #242: the threat is over, but Superman's powers are now drained by 1/3. No more planet juggling and instant hops to the other side of the universe, the plan was to return Superman to his Golden Age roots. Superman was now leaner, somewhat wiser, and definitely a more human character. This was Schwartz and O'Neil's "new" incarnation.


After the storyline was concluded, DC pulled the plug on this "new" incarnation, and Cary Bates came in to script "Superman" #243. It is considered that DC was competing with its past, and followed the advice of those fans who were more interested in seeing cosmic conflicts. While the "new" Superman still occasionally popped up usually in the pages of DC Comics Presents, O'Neil's vision of Superman disappeared after the final "Sandman Saga" issue.

External Links

* [ History of "The Sandman Saga"]
*Adpatation of "The Sandman Saga"
** [ Superman Adventures #54]
** [ Superman Adventures #55]

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