Review: Wesley Dodds: The Sandman #2
[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writer: Robert Venditti
Art: Riley Rossmo
Colors: Ivan Plascencia
Letters: Tom Napolitano
Reviewed by: Matthew B. Lloyd
Wesley Dodds begins the search for who burnt his house down. In the process, he discovers the plans for the deadly gasses he inadvertently created are missing from his lab….
The look of this book is dead on. It’s an effective blend between the Sandman’s early Golden Age adventures and Sandman Mystery Theater. It’s got some of the darker edge of the latter with the straightforward look of the former. It’s clear Rossmo is looking at fashions from the early 40’s and late ’30’s with Wesley’s double breasted suit and Dian’s cloche hat. Rossmo’s storytelling, like last issue is very effective. He puts together sequences as well as more poster style pages for dramatic impact. The title of the issue, “Smoke and Mirrors” is again presented like gas or smoke, a theme carried over from Wesley Dodds: The Sandman #1. This homage to Will Eisner’s splash pages on The Spirit helps set the tone and capture the flavor of the era. There were a number of slouched hat and over-coated characters back then and the Sandman was DC’s character in that genre.
The script for Wesley Dodds: The Sandman #2 by Robert Venditti features a number of compelling aspects. Venditti continues to use the relationship between Wesley and Dian Belmont well. It not only functions as character moments, but it’s part of the plot. Dian has helped Wesley from the very beginning of the series back in the Golden Age and it’s a different dynamic from most comic book love interests of the time. There’s a permanence to their relationship, much like Carter Hall and Shiera Sanders. It’s very different from the Superman/ Lois dynamic in the Golden Age. The Shadow had Margo Lane, but there was always a bit of distance in that pairing. Wesley and Dian are closer, and with the perspective of history, we know that to be true.
Wesley Dodds: The Sandman #2 ends with something of a surprise that Wesley’s nightmares predict. Having kept the deadly gas formulas, he will blame himself for allowing them to be used by the thief. It’s a compelling piece of the puzzle. Venditti hasn’t tipped his hand on the identity of the villain, yet. However, there are a few candidates that have been introduced in the first couple issues. This leaves the reader with a good old fashioned mystery.
The only negative here is that this is a mini-series. It’s clear early on that this series could easily be expanded into an ongoing.
Wesley Dodds: The Sandman #2 is even better than the premier issue. The plot moves forward, the mystery deepens and the characterization is effective as Venditti and Rossmo recapitulate the world of the early days of the Sandman. There’s nothing Earth shattering about this series, it’s just THIS type of story done really, really well. It should come as no surprise with Venditti’s track record on Hawkman. It’s a classic noir detective story in the 1940’s at the birth of the mystery men of the DC Universe. Plus, it seamlessly incorporates a consistent characterization and tone. Damn near perfect!