The Sandman: 1943: Fashion for Dying, Chapter 1: Following Suit

by Libbylawrence

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December, 1940:

Wesley Dodds was more than a little bored. As the gas mask-wearing Sandman, he had been tooling around the city for an hour in his roadster and had found nothing more challenging to do than stop the inept Getaway Genius from getting away with his latest jewel robbery. Wes had not even bothered to get out of the car for that one. A quick use of the gas-gun once he was close enough was enough to put Roy Reynolds out, ending his latest crime. (*)

[(*) Editor’s note: The Earth-Two Getaway Genius is based on the Earth-One foe of Batman, as first seen in “Genius of the Getaway Gimmicks,” Batman #170 (March, 1965).]

“There’s no truth in advertising in the villain game,” mused the Sandman. “Genius? More like gifted juvenile delinquent.”

He turned on the car radio that allowed him to pick up crime news via his special 2-Y beam.

“Good old Lee! His techno knowhow never fails to come through. I owe him a nice big steak for helping me work out the kinks in this one,” he said as he listened to a report of a fire near the docks. That’s right on my normal patrol route! he thought. How more convenient an arsonist can a mystery-man ask for?

The Sandman wished his lady friend Dian Belmont could have joined him, as she had from time to time, but she correctly felt that too much of a connection between the masked Sandman and the wealthy daughter of District Attorney Larry Belmont could be dangerous. “I’m not about to dress up in a fancy costume and call myself Sandra, the Golden Girl!” she teased. Maybe one day, he thought, he might have a real crime-fighting partner to take a more active role in his cases.

Tonight, as the Sandman drove his sleek roadster toward the piers, he smelled smoke and detected the trail rising over the warehouse district.

Must have been started by some bum sleeping in the empty allies, he thought as he arrived. There’s nothing worth burning here. Not like a military dockyard or industrial storage building. These places have been empty for years. The scene was of a burning warehouse, where firemen worked to douse the flames. Guess I won’t be needed here after all, he thought.

Then he caught sight of an old man watching the fire on the docks. He backed up with his eyes raised to the sky where the smoke still trailed from the dwindling fire, when he fell into the water below. The Sandman, watching this, muttered, “Poor old coot! He’ll drown for sure unless the Sandman takes a dive!”

Slamming on the brakes, he jumped out of the gold roadster and quickly stripped off his green suit, then jumped into the icy waters and swam to where the old man still struggled to stay afloat. He wrapped his arms around him, only to be startled when the old man suddenly struck him in the head and began to choke him. Makeup! This old man is not so old! he realized as they fought in the chill waters.

“I’ll make you pay, Sandman, or my name is not the Face!” sneered the man beneath the disguise. Wesley was startled at first, because he had believed that the Face had died during their first encounter, having crashed his car over a bridge into the river below. (*) But his presence here indicated that he had somehow survived to reenact the scene of his supposed death, only with the Sandman taking his place in Davy Jones’ locker.

[(*) Editor’s note: See The Sandman, Adventure Comics #44 (November, 1939).]

“You’ll have to accept payment in bruises, then,” said the Sandman, “because, brother, that’s all you’re getting this night!” He jabbed the thug in the neck, and as the Face gasped for air, the Sandman shoved him below the water in a steel grip. Then he yanked him back to the surface and pulled him to the docks, not letting him go this time.

The burning building on his normal patrol route, Wesley realized now, had merely been a ruse by the Face to get the Sandman close enough for his murder attempt. It failed, and after the Sandman turned in the master of disguise, he drove home.

“Great! Lost my jacket in the haste to jump in after that creep!” he muttered as he parked his roadster.


December, 1943:

Three years passed since his second encounter with the Face, and Wesley Dodds was relaxing in his penthouse while the strains of Bing Crosby echoed throughout the suite.

Dian Belmont had arrived for a brief visit, and she smiled at the swaying figure of Wes Dodds. “You know, for a real-life mystery-man, you sure can’t dance!” she teased.

Sweeping her into his arms, he said, “That is jealousy speaking, and it does not become you!”

Dian laughed and said, “OK, I admit that I am even worse than you are. We’re two people with four left feet.”

Nearby, her grinning nephew Sandy Hawkins watched while dangling one leg over the arm of a plush chair. He had been living with Wes and working as his partner under the name of Sandy the Golden Boy for over two years now, but the boy from rural New England had never fully gotten used to living the life of a millionaire. “Neither of you can really swing!”

Wes grinned and said, “I’ll have you know that I once swung from the very top of the Empire State Building.”

Sandy laughed. “Ah, Wes, that’s not the kind of swinging I mean! Come on, Aunt Dian, cut a rug with me!” He grabbed his aunt and spun her around as they laughed.

Wes was very happy to have Sandy living with him. The boy kept him happy and prevented him from letting the darker side of his masked career get to him. He knew Batman’s youthful partner Robin had the same effect on him, so much so that it was hard now to conceive of the hero as a loner, even after he had been one for most of his life and at the beginning of his career.

“Come on, Fred,” said Wesley, “put Ginger down and suit up!” He referred to the yellow and red costume that Sandy employed when they fought crime. The Sandman himself, having retired his old green business suit, now wore a matching yellow and purple costume as well. But the one he had worn years ago, when he fought the Face, would yet come back to haunt him.


In a weird little house outside of New York City there lived a strange little man who prided himself on having a most unusual collection of artifacts. The criminal grapevine often kept watch of his latest arrivals, and he was paid handsomely for his finds. He dusted them carefully and took stock of what he had amassed.

“Bullets smashed on Superman’s chest!” he said as he rattled a small can.

“Feathers of Static, Air Wave’s pet bird!”

“A hat lost by Doiby Dickles, pal to the Green Lantern!”

The man’s musing was then ended by the arrival of a beautiful woman who looked exceedingly out of place in the dingy neighborhood. She wore a sheer red evening gown and high heels. Her makeup was flawless, and her blonde hair fell in a perfect Veronica Lake hairdo over one deep green eye. She walked with the easy grace of trained ballerina or a huntress. She almost purred as she spoke in a sultry tone to the little man who stared up at her in awe and admiration.

“Ain’t you Libby Lawrence, the news gal?” he asked.

“No, I am not that woman,” she said. “I am a customer here about one item in particular that my sources say you have in this bizarre little collection.”

“I think we can do business,” he said. “What can I do ya for?”

She ignored his attempt at wit and said, “You are said to have obtained a coat belonging to the Sandman. May I see it, please?” she cooed.

Blushing, he went into the back room and returned a moment later with an expensive-looking green suit coat. “I bought this off a guy who found it near the docks. The Sandman took it off to swim after a guy a couple years ago!”

The sultry blonde ran one perfectly manicured hand over the fabric and reached for the shopkeeper. He allowed her to draw him closer, and as she clawed the side of his face, he fell in a drugged daze.

“I’ll take it!” she purred and swayed out of the shop into a waiting limousine. Her name was Priscilla Rich, and she had just begun to track down the secret identity of the Sandman.


Later, as Priscilla curled up in her rented penthouse suite, she smiled an evil smile and tossed back golden curls.

“The suit was beyond that clod’s ability to appreciate,” she said to herself. “But then, he did not shop in the exclusive circles we do! He did not recognize the marking symbol of the designer, Mr. Gambi! I can soon use my connections to learn just for whom he made this suit. How foolish of this Sandman to use his wealth to equip himself in designer suits for his mystery-man outings. That bit of carelessness shall prove his undoing!” And as she reclined in her seat, she pondered her next move.

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