The Sandman Saga
|"The Sandman Saga"|
|Publication date||January – September 1971|
|Title(s)||Superman #233-235, 237-238, 240-242|
"The Sandman Saga" is a Superman story arc published in 1971 in Superman (Vol. 1) #233 - 235, 237 - 238, 240 - 242. This is the first Superman storyline under editor Julius Schwartz and the first Bronze Age-era Superman story.
In 1971, DC attempted to revamp and streamline the Superman universe. Many of the concepts introduced during this time, such as a powered-down Superman, Intergang, the Cadmus Project, the Guardian, and Darkseid, would later be used in the post-Crisis incarnation of Superman, that first appeared in John Byrne's The Man of Steel.
Mort Weisinger, the editor on the Superman titles, retired from his 30-year career at DC at the end of 1970. A prolific editor, DC replaced him with four people: Mike Sekowsky (Adventure Comics and Supergirl), Murray Boltinoff (Superboy, Action Comics, and Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen), E. Nelson Bridwell (Superman's Girl Friend, Lois Lane), and Julius Schwartz (World's Finest and Superman). The new editors streamlined the Superman mythos: kryptonite, imaginary stories, Mr. Mxyzptlk, Bizarro, Krypto, Jimmy Olsen's Elastic Lad stories, Lois Lane's Reptile Girls stories, and Titano would all be removed and forgotten.
After a series of house ads including two-page center-spreads, DC published Superman #233 in January 1971. With the tagline The Amazing New Adventures of above the Superman title, and the displayed "1" which was actually part of the slogan "Number 1 Best-Selling Comics Magazine," it led some to believe that the book was actually called The Amazing New Adventures of Superman #1. Writer Denny O'Neil, known from his memorable runs on the Batman books and Green Lantern/Green Arrow and artists Curt Swan and Murphy Anderson began the "Sandman Saga" in this issue. The story would open up with an archetypal situation where a scientist is trying to create an engine powered by Kryptonite when the experiment goes awry. However, because of this "freak accident", all kryptonite on Earth becomes nothing more than harmless iron. Following this development, Clark Kent is reassigned by his new boss, Morgan Edge, as a television reporter of WGBS, and O'Neil dumps the wimpy-Clark Kent persona.
During the story, O'Neil illustrated Superman's resourcefulness in rescuing an inhabited island from an erupting volcano. Earlier however, a sandman in the shape of Superman has been created. Because the Sandman is getting more of Superman's powers, Superman has to become more clever as he loses more of his powers. The purpose of the storyline would be revealed in #242: the threat is over, but Superman's powers are now drained by 1/3. No more planet juggling and instant hops to the other side of the universe, the plan was to return Superman to his Golden Age roots. Superman was now leaner, somewhat wiser, and definitely a more human character. This was Schwartz and O'Neil's "new" incarnation.
After the conclusion of the storyline, DC pulled the plug on this "new" incarnation, and Cary Bates came in to script Superman #243. It is considered that DC was competing with its past, and followed the advice of those fans who were more interested in seeing cosmic conflicts. While the "new" Superman still occasionally popped up, O'Neil's vision of Superman disappeared after the final "Sandman Saga" issue. In 1992, Walt Simonson wrote and drew a post-Crisis version of the Sandman Saga in Superman Special.
- McAvennie, Michael; Dolan, Hannah, ed. (2010). "1970s". DC Comics Year By Year A Visual Chronicle. Dorling Kindersley. p. 144. ISBN 978-0-7566-6742-9.
New editor Julius Schwartz, new scripter Denny O'Neil, and regular artist Curt Swan removed the Man of Steel's greatest weakness from the face of the Earth.