When it comes to obscure Jack Kirby characters, it doesn’t get much more obscure than The Sandman. No, not Wesley Dodds. And we’re definitely not talking about Dream either. We’re talking about Garrett Sanford, the star of exactly six issues published between 1974 and 1976. Writers Dan Jurgens and Steve Orlando took Garrett out for a dusting for the third DC Comics Jack Kirby centennial special with two trippy adventures that would make Kirby and co-creator Joe Simon proud.
Here’s the publisher’s synopsis from DC:
Don’t miss two new tales starring Jack Kirby’s costumed Master of Nightmares from the 1970s. Sandman, Brute and Glob battle an onslaught of dreams so powerful that they are invading the dreams of other people! Then, a grown-up Jed Walker returns to his childhood home, only to find himself haunted by dreams from the past.
The first story in the book is the delightful “The King of Dreams.” The Sandman, along with his monster sidekicks Glub and Brute, go into the Dreamscape to stop the monstrous creations from a child’s nightmare from invading reality. While there, they meet a fellow hero (who looks suspiciously like a particular Norse god) who helps them.
I really can’t talk about this story much without spoiling the very cool ending, but Jurgens crafted a neat story that will make all Kirby fans (which I think is safe to assume includes everyone who reads this site) smile.
Artist Jon Bogdanove is the first artist working on these specials to attempt to mimic Kirby’s style. It’s obvious with the splash page, but as the story goes on, Bogdanove’s own style peeks through. The highlight of the story is easily Bogdanove’s recreation of Kirby’s famous collages, and with computer generated imagery to help out, it looks amazing.
Orlando and artist Rick Leonardi take over for “Caravan of Crisis,” in which The Sandman has to help Jed Walker, a character who linked DC’s other Sandmen to Kirby’s character. Jed is troubled by a nightmare and it’s up to Sandman and his monster sidekicks to save the day by figuring out what exactly Jed needs to remember to face his demons.
DC also includes a bunch of “Strange Tales from the D.N.A. Project” stories from Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen that Kirby wrote and drew. These are fascinating and will be eye-opening to Kirby newcomers unprepared for how weird they can be. They only run two pages each, but are jam-packed with things only Kirby can imagine. One story is about a “D.N.Alien” who kept growing to the point it burned up all its energy and died. Another is about scientists learning that there’s a giant ape monster in the caves near their lab. And there’s also one about “Arin the Armored Man.”
While the stories in The Sandman Special are a little on the sentimental side, they are both fun and wonderful tributes to Kirby using a character many have forgotten. To top it off, it’s published inside a wonderful Paul Pope cover. The best part of these stories is they both introduce The Sandman’s world and how it works in only a few pages. Hopefully anyone who hasn’t heard of this colorful Sandman will want to check out the original stories.