Sunday, May 5, 2013

The Hero and the Hoover

It only took a few issues of Amazing Spider-Man to see how poor a fit the Sandman was as an opponent for Spider-Man, aside from the novelty aspect. And from his first appearance in issue 4, you'd almost think that Marvel itself was thinking the same thing:

How, indeed?

Spider-Man would end up tangling with a number of villains throughout his career who could only be stopped by methods other than the use of his own powers--and with each engagement of the Sandman, it was becoming clear that this villain would be one of those opponents. And since Spidey's readers were presumably picking up his comic to see his powers in play, they weren't going to be satisfied for long at seeing that the most he could do against the Sandman was to employ acrobatics to stay out of his way.

Consequently, Spidey's ways of getting the better of Sandman grew old quickly. In fact, his first defeat of the villain didn't exactly inspire anticipation for any future battles between them:

Nor did it likely inspire much demand for seeing the Sandman anywhere else, either. Carted off to jail in a vacuum cleaner bag. His profile would be elevated in the pages of Fantastic Four, but there were times when the FF weren't above this sort of thing, either:

As for his encounters with Spider-Man, they seemed to be going nowhere. In their next meeting, their battle took just a few panels. And not only did the Sandman end up beating himself, but Spider-Man wasn't even concerned with making sure he was taken into custody:

That wasn't a problem in their next meeting. Because the Sandman wasn't corralled by Spider-Man, but by the police:

While later, Spidey is able to put the freeze on his foe, thanks in part to the Sandman himself.

Which is really the Sandman's curtain call, as far as going up against Spider-Man on his own. If I've missed anything in that respect, simply fill in the blank as far as the method or device used to capture him or otherwise bring him down. Hopefully it had something to do with spider-powers?


Doc Savage said...

I like it when a hero faces a problem his powers can't solve. Peter Parker has to use his wits to stop Sandman. That's much better than a simple fistfight with Kraven. Reminds me of Silver Age Superman stories where Superman's strength was useless against foes like Mr. Mxyzptik (however you spell it) or Kryptonian villains from the Phantom Zone or Red Kryptonite.

Anonymous said...

Sir , I must take issue with your assessment of the Sandman. Granted, the guy was an obnoxious goon, but his belligerence and weird shapeshifting powers freaked me the hell out when I was a kid, and frankly, isn't that the mark of a really great suppervillian?
The guy was a classic! Does anybody remember his classic (I'm using that word too much) team-up with Blastarr? Not a bad idea for a future post, by the way. That was Ben Grimm at his finest, getting so annoyed with Blastarr, that alien tyrant from another dimension that he just told him to shut up, and after getting tired of monkeying around with the Sandman, punched him into free-floating sand. I agree with Matt Celis that Spidey sucking the guy up with a vacuum cleaner was inspired. It reminds me of the time Spider-man defeated Electro by tossing a bucket of water on him. He later mocked him by telling him Judy Garland could take him out.
Still, I always loved the Sandman, who I thought had the potential to be a pretty scary villain. I remember when Spidey first fought him and thought, "boy, if anybody wanted to switch places with me right now, they wouldn't' have to coax me very hard." Difficult to imagine Batman thinking something like that.

Doc Savage said...

And that's one of the (many) reasons I will always prefer Spidey to Batman! He seems like a real person, at least in his early days. Marvel really had it over D.C. back then when it came to their heroes seeming like actual personalities.

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