Thursday, November 22, 2018

Throwback Thursday: Sandman Oversized Special #1 Review (2017)


It Was Only in My Dreams

Written By: Dan Jurgens, Steve Orlando, Jack Kirby 
Art By: Jon Bogdanove, Rick Leonardi, Dan Green, Jack Kirby 
Colored By: Madpencil, Steve Buccellato 
Lettered By: Willie Schubert, Wes Abbot 
Cover By: Paul Pope & Lovern Kindzierski 
Cover Price: $4.99 
On Sale Date: August 16, 2017


Oh boy oh boy oh boy! This month of Jack Kirby Specials gets better and better for me, since one of my most favorite Kirby (and Joe Simon) properties is the Sandman! The Sandman is, generally speaking, on of my favorite characters; from the gas mask-wearing Wesley Dodds and the Simon and Kirby yellow and purple costume revamp, to the Bronze Age superhero monitoring dreams with Brute and Glob, to Neil Gaiman’s goth version that is arguably best-known, I love all of these versions. But the Bronze Age Sandman gets the least recognition! So let’s recognize it together, in my review of Sandman Oversize Special #1, right here!

Explain It!

So this comic consists of three sections: two new stories, and then some Jack Kirby reprints like the other books from this series of one-shots. The first one is by Dan Jurgens and Jon Bogdanove, and it’s a fairly textbook Sandman story in that Sandy, Brute and Glob enter a creative child’s nightmares to dispense of them before they infect the waking world. I thought it was picture-perfect, evoking a lot of Jack Kirby’s familiar style while retaining much of Bogdanove’s uniqueness. There’s a great spread of Sandman’s team traveling through a dream space that is really reminiscent of when Kirby would strip in photographs to his more elaborate works. Jurgens understands these characters and the material explicitly, and had this come from one of those few Bronze Age issues, I wouldn’t have batted an eyelid. I don’t expect to see it, but I could stand to read more stories like this. There’s even a new superhero character, of sorts, that could have been ripped right from the files of Jack Kirby…and it was, kind of…just read the thing and find out what happens!
The second story is by Steve Orlando and Rick Leonardi, and it’s also a good homage to the source material. If anything, it’s a little too slavishly devoted to the minutiae, and not the spirit of the original material, but it’s still pretty entertaining, and includes an adult version of Jed, who was the little kid that Sandman rescued from bad dreams most often, back in the day. The issue concludes with something a little incongruous, the “Strange Stories of the D.N.A. Project!” two-page exposés of the Project, a secret government agency that could be found in the pages of Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen when Jack was writing and drawing it. Again, this material is fairly available but it is highly bizarre—almost like a series of Ripley’s Believe It Or Not! strips about some dystopian future run by genetic scientists. I enjoyed the heck out them, but if you were looking for more Sandman-specific content, you won’t find it here.
This is my favorite issue in the Jack Kirby series so far, but that’s largely owing to the fact that I love the characters and their trappings already. Like with the two comics preceding this, if you’re not already a fan of Sandman, then this is a bad place to jump in. Those already familiar with the character will find the two new stories right in lock step with the original comics, each with its own artistic interpretation of Kirby’s style, and each cool in its own way. The back-up stuff is sort of strange and meaningless to Sandman, and might annoy those that were hoping for reprints of the actual comic at hand. But those that enjoy high weirdness should appreciate ‘em just fine.

Bits and Pieces:

Fans of Sandman, here's the plan: head to the comic shop and respect the man; that's Jack "King" Kirby, uh, he wasn't a, drove real swervy...okay, that was a big fail. But this comic isn't, for established fans of the character. Folks looking to get familiar for the first time should probably check the archives. A lack of Sandman content at the back knocked my score down a bit, but it's still a good bang for your [five] bucks.


1 comment:

  1. I really liked this comic. I wish they had reprinted Santa Vs the Sealmen. I only have that issue in the DC digest size a full size reprint of that story would make me give this a straight 10.