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Sandman Mystery Theatre, Vol. 1: The Tarantula (Sandman Mystery Theatre #1)

3.95  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,173 Ratings  ·  41 Reviews
In this noir detective tale of intrigue, bigotry and incest, millionaire Wesley Dodds takes on the costumed persona of the Sandman to catch a sadistic killer in 1930s New York. Donning a gas mask, fedora, business suit and cape, Dodds goes after the Tarantula, a brutal kidnapper who is mercilessly preying upon the women of high society. But as the Sandman walks through a w ...more
Paperback, 112 pages
Published May 1st 1995 by Vertigo
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(showing 1-30 of 1,712)
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mark monday
Apr 23, 2015 mark monday rated it liked it
Shelves: comikon
Matt Wagner updates Golden Age Sandman with a conspicuously modern focus on torture and atrocity while keeping the setting enjoyably retro. the time is the 1930s and the milieu is a post-Depression world of high society, gangsters, and a lack of costumed heroes. Enter the Sandman. He has a great, sinister look (trench coat, three-piece suit, and gas mask), a bunch of disturbing dreams, and no powers outside of his pluck and a supply of sleeping gas. he's a wonderfully idiosyncratic hero. the sto ...more
Joseph Rice
Feb 01, 2016 Joseph Rice rated it it was amazing
Sparkling dialog and a careful study of human nature mark the first volume of The Sandman Mystery Theatre, starring the WW2 Sandman, Wesley Dodds. Matt Wagner creates a world full of amoralists, and it's the Sandman's duty to correct injustices in order to soothe his tortured soul.

The antagonists in this story are not hard to figure out, but the way Wagner brings us to the conclusion is sharp and mesmerizing. This is a thoroughly enjoyable story, as sickening as much of it is. Film noir as Comic
'kris Pung
May 18, 2014 'kris Pung rated it really liked it
A great noir book where surprisingly the killers identity is revealed pretty early on but it was still enjoyable watching the good guys put all the pieces together.
Randolph Carter
Wesley Dodds is my favorite kind of comics super-hero: he isn't. Zero superpowers, not even the "power to cloud mens' minds" like The Shadow. All he has is a trench-coat, a fedora, a gas gun, and a WWI gas mask. Which means, when he goes to work, just like Super Man or the Green Lantern, he's about as inconspicuous as a cockroach on a wedding cake, only unlike them, no powers, like I said.

Don't expect to find Morpheus here except when Mr. Dodds uses his not-so magic gun on you. And death isn't
Raymond Rose
Mar 02, 2011 Raymond Rose rated it it was amazing
Sandman Mystery Theater is a bizarre beast. The Sandman it is referring to was a character created in the 1930s, a strange pulp novel character of the newly-created comic books at the time. In the 1980s, Neil Gaiman took the character and updated him... as a god of dreams. He stated that the 30s Sandman was created when Gaiman’s Sandman was imprisoned by faux-magicians. With the success of Gaiman’s Sandman, DC set up to try their hand at the 30s Sandman again.

And, oh my God, is it fantastic. Mat
Michael Anderson
Jan 17, 2016 Michael Anderson rated it really liked it
First story arc of new tales of the Golden Age comic book character, Sandman. This is not Gaiman's Endless Sandman, but a human crime fighter who works in shadow with a truth/knockout gas gun and a World War I gas mask. I bought the first issue of this from the newsstand and, after reading it through back in the day, decided not to continue the series. Now that I've read the entire four-issue story, I still don't find it compelling enough to read other stories in the series. The plot is pedestri ...more
Jayaprakash Satyamurthy
I'd read a few stray issues of Sandman Mystery Theatre, but this is the first time I've read any of the collected editions. I liked the story with some qualifications: I'm uneasy with the prevalence of depictions of sexualised violence against women in popular fiction, and the first story arc of SMT contains a great deal of this sort of thing. It's clear who the bad guys are, but still, I am not sure it is handled as well as it could be. The other problem is that, at the end of this story arc, t ...more
Andy Zeigert
Jan 26, 2012 Andy Zeigert rated it liked it
Neil Gaiman's SANDMAN was perfect in almost every way.

So why did Vertigo revive the character again? Just to hit closer to the original mark? Who knows. Most likely it was to try to ride the wave. Maybe even trick a few people into thinking they were getting more of Gaiman's SANDMAN.

In any case, SANDMAN MYSTERY THEATRE didn't have much going for it. Except that it turned out to be kind of brilliant. Matt Wagner's noir sensibilities shine, and the hand lettering of the book reminds me how boring
Jan 19, 2013 Paul rated it really liked it
Originaly bought as single-issues, I have the complete collection.

Somehow, Matt Wagner and Guy Davis were the perfect team to bring the original Sandman back.
Where most writers would have updated the character to bring him into the 21st century, Matt Wagner goes way back to his original roots set in the 1940s and gives us a bare bones version of the character.
This isn't a super-hero, he doesn't jump from rooftops, he's faillable, he's a well-rounded, caring human being, heck he's not even muscle
Jun 12, 2015 Joshua rated it really liked it
Shelves: comics
A really interesting take on a golden age comics character that blends the noir detective and early superhero genres. The theme set up early in the story (decadence and general apathy towards societal ills) is important to consider, and it's interesting to see a character take up more or less non-violent arms against the problem. (Thematically it bears some similarity to The Dark Knight Returns. Other issues, like women's role in society and the pervasiveness and acceptance of racism, are also b ...more
Mar 12, 2015 Valerie rated it liked it
Shelves: comics, mystery
Okay, I admit I bought this because I thought it was a Neil Gaiman Sandman spin-off and not a Golden Age Sandman spin-off. I was at my used book store spending money like a crazy person that day. Things fell in the basket. It happens.

So while this was not what I was expecting, it was still a neat 40s-style comic with a modern, storyline. It isn't something I would typically read, but an interesting one. It strives to recreate the pre-Batman vigilante hero, and I think it succeeds in this. The ar
Aug 23, 2007 Devowasright rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: geeks. film noire fans
i had some of these issues once upon a time... such great stories.. a great concept, and reinvention of the golden age sandman..
Brad Abraham
Dec 19, 2015 Brad Abraham rated it really liked it
[This review is more for the entire Sandman Mystery Theatre series than simply Vol. 1. As a freshly minted stay-at-home dad as well as a working writer, my free time available to review books, let alone read them, is somewhat compromised at the moment.]

First, some background;

Way back in the 1990s I was a college student. I was also a comic book fan. I also didn't have a lot of money to spend on comics so I had to be careful where I spent my cash. I really only read Hellblazer and Preacher regula
I don't know if I could call this series underrated as the people who do read it tend to thoroughly like or love it but I could probably get away with calling it underexposed. Honestly, if you have an interest in crime, period pieces, noir, or masked vigilantes you could probably get into this--even if you're not a reader of comics/graphic novels. The writing is full of style, moodiness, and original uses of imagery in a very literary way and the art just has this jarring crudeness to it that gi ...more
Jul 08, 2013 Ravenhats rated it it was amazing
This is my favorite volume of my favorite superhero character. Sandman Mystery theater is a extremely unusual Superhero story that focuses upon multiple human and realistic aspects that are often left out of the genre such as the true human effects of crime, the investigative work, historical and geographical setting, and complex character relationships. Sandman Mystery theater is a period piece placed in the 1930, narrated by Dian the daughter of the district attorney. She meets the eccentric s ...more
Dec 12, 2010 Chris rated it really liked it
Shelves: graphicnovels, 2010
I just had a nice donation of all the Sandman and Sandman-related collections to my classroom lending library, so I'll be gradually going through the collections I've never had the chance to read before.

If this first collection is any indication of the quality of later issues of the series, I can see why Sandman Mystery Theater was such a long-running book. In a lot of ways, SMT was ahead of its' time as a book which took a serious approach to vigilantism and superheroics by rooting it firmly in
A. Welp
Dec 26, 2015 A. Welp rated it it was amazing
Great book!

I had read good things about this series beforehand, and so decided to give it a shot, and I am glad I did. It excels at creating a deep atmosphere, at time mysterious, at times horrific, with great characters too. For anyone interested in pulp fiction or detective fiction with rich plots and characters, this is something to look into.
May 10, 2010 Travis rated it liked it
Shelves: comic-books
NIce bit of gritty pulp noir mystery, but despite claiming to be the adventures of the golden age Sandman character, it is so removed it's hard to see this version joining the JSA.

Makes me wonder if it wouldn't have worked better if Wanger had just created a new character. A good read, but I couldn't get past the nagging voice that kept thinking 'this isn't 'my' Sandman'.

Shame as it is a good pulp mystery series and Wes and Dian are a great couple, but typical of most Vertigo comics that used an
Aleksandar Nikolov
Jul 15, 2014 Aleksandar Nikolov rated it it was amazing
Shelves: comics
Я па взех че се изненадах, и то доста приятно. Доста добре издържана кримка в духа на 30-те години. И колкото да е странно за комикс, супер-героя въобще не е толкова супер. Направо си е кекав чиляк с мания да приспива нищо неподозиращите хорица с газ. И от там взимат че го кръщават "Sandman" а.к.а "Сънчо".

Както може и да е предположи по заглавието първия супер-враг на Сънчо е на име "Тарантула" , които също даже въобще не е супер. Кекав извратеняк с мания да отвлича невинни женички. И така без д
Mar 23, 2014 Gavin rated it really liked it
Shelves: comics
Film Noir in comic book form. This feels like it came right out of the late 1930s. The Wesley Dodds Sandman is a character I've been interested in reading more of for some time, and luckily I got my hands on this. This is a great start for a series, taking a character from the past, and letting modern readers get a chance to enjoy him. Luckily Matt Wagner is able to write pulp noir very well, and with all that atmosphere and great backdrop, tell us a story of murder, incest, blackmail and more!

Orrin Grey
Sep 24, 2013 Orrin Grey rated it liked it
Shelves: comics
Started trying to read some Sandman Mystery Theatre, finally, though I'm not sure how far I'll get. Not because they're not good; they're pretty great, I'm just not sure how many volumes in I'll get before something else takes up my time.

Everyone knows that Matt Wagner is good for this kind of writing, and the art is Guy Davis back before he was doing B.P.R.D. It's a fascinating combo, though Davis's art shines brightest when he's doing weird dream sequences and the like. Looking forward to read
Michael Wells
Feb 01, 2010 Michael Wells rated it really liked it
Shelves: comics
This is a great series that it's taken me too long to come by. 1930's pulp noir with a bit of super thrown in. I picked it up because I've been reading Matt Wagner's current work on Madame Xanadu and I've been loving it. So I thought I'd try out some other, earlier work. I'm not disappointed. Sandman Mystery Theatre is smart, stylish and suprisingly mature about human relationships for a comic that sets itself in the pulp world.

I'm not in love with the art. I am in love with the writing.
Carolyn Fitzpatrick
Sep 22, 2013 Carolyn Fitzpatrick rated it it was ok
Shelves: graphic-novel
The "Sandman" and his leading lady are both great characters. Unfortunately that isn't enough to redeem this series. There is zero artistry here - just cell after cell of heads with speech bubbles. The plot is predictable. The dialogue isn't snappy. They tried to make it interesting by amping up the gore (think Roark Junior in Sin City). It didn't work. The most interesting part of the whole novel was the intro, which explained the original Sandman series.
Oct 07, 2013 Brent rated it really liked it
Twenty years later, I finally read all four issues/chapters.
This is a superhero book with the Golden Age DC Sandman, a "mystery man" without superpowers, solving crimes in 1938, behind his trademark gasmask and overcoat.
The early Vertigo imprint guarantees and "R" rating of sorts, albeit skillfully done.
Jun 24, 2011 Hannah rated it really liked it
A strange hero. Not super, not special in anyway. He has to wear a mask so he isn't affected by his own gas. Very intriguing. And for once the girl isn't some helpless prop for the man to rescue. I like the way she goes about her investigating, and how she manages to work in a mostly male setting.
Jun 14, 2012 Keith rated it liked it
The book design and coloring is pretty 90's, but the art is interesting and the book's heavy-handed attempts to sound "period" have a certain charm. I'm invested enough to try some more volumes, especially since everyone and their brother says this series took awhile to get up to speed.
Longer review possibly coming.

CHARACTERS/DIALOGUE: B plus to A minus; CLUE TRAILS: B to B plus; SANDMAN MYTHOLOGY: B to B plus; WHEN READ: end of November 2013; OVERALL GRADE: B to B plus.
Feb 17, 2015 Albert rated it it was amazing
Shelves: comics
Great first story arc to set up the characters and the epoch that Sandman Mystery Theatre takes place in. Guy Davis artwork is nice, but I think Davis has made these characters a little wider than they probably were meant to be (Dodds looks different in other comics).
Aug 28, 2011 Steve rated it it was amazing
Shelves: comics
Reread this storyline yesterday and absolutely loved it as much as I did the first time around. Great art, wonderfully paced noir mystery, brilliant dialogue, excellent characterization. I might have to dig out the rest of my issues and reread the whole series.
Federiken Masters
Jan 18, 2011 Federiken Masters marked it as to-read
Recommends it for: Veremos...
Recommended to Federiken by: No recuerdo
Tengo de la edición de Norma SMT: La Cara 1 y 2 (Colección Vertigo #81 y 84), que creo que pertenecen al tomo siguiente. La Tarántula no recuerdo si lo tuve alguna vez o si sólo lo vi suelto por alguna comiquería. Cuando lo corrobore, rerreseño.
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Matt Wagner is an American comic book writer and artist. In addition to his creator-owned series' Mage and Grendel, he has also worked on comics featuring The Demon and Batman as well as such titles as Sandman Mystery Theatre and Trinity, a DC Comics limited series featuring Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman.
More about Matt Wagner...

Other Books in the Series

Sandman Mystery Theatre (9 books)
  • Sandman Mystery Theatre, Vol. 2: The Face and the Brute
  • Sandman Mystery Theatre, Vol. 3: The Vamp
  • Sandman Mystery Theatre, Vol. 4: The Scorpion
  • Sandman Mystery Theatre, Vol. 5: Dr. Death and the Night of the Butcher
  • Sandman Mystery Theatre, Vol. 6: The Hourman and the Python
  • Sandman Mystery Theatre, Vol. 7: The Mist and the Phantom of the Fair
  • Sandman Mystery Theatre, Vol. 8: The Blackhawk and the Return of the Scarlet Ghost
  • Sandman Mystery Theatre, Vol. 14

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