Wesley Dodds was most likely born in the early 1910s to wealthy investor Edward Dodds and his wife, Marina. In 1917, when he was still a child, his mother died under unrevealed circumstances. Little is known of Dodds' early life, save that he spent part of his youth in the Orient and there learned herbalism, martial arts, and origami. It is known that he is well-traveled, ranging from Europe to Asia. After college and his father's death, Dodds became the manager of a vast estate and an investor in his own right. Sometime before 1938, Dodds became plagued by extremely vivid dreams of criminal activities in dreams that would not allow him rest. Dodds used his fortune to finance a lab and developed a formula for sedative and hypnotic gasses. He then bought several kinds of gas masks and set up an identity for himself, the Sandman, in which to pursue the criminals that haunted his dreams. In an early case, he encountered Lee Travis, a college chum, in his guise of the Crimson Avenger. The two initially fought but eventually joined forces against the Phantom of the Fair, who haunted the 1938 World's Fair. Travis gave Dodds a gun design that the Sandman ultimately perfected as his gas gun. The Sandman then started his career in earnest, first confronting the Tarantula, a serial murderer.
Later that year, Dodds met socialite Dian Belmont, daughter of District Attorney Larry Belmont, at local ball. The two became lovers and, by year's end, Dodds had shared the knowledge of his dual life with her. The Sandman's dreams often compelled him to pursue the most violent of criminals, such as the Scorpion, Dr. Death, and the Butcher. Each time, he left the defeated criminal with a poem enclosed in a bit of origami. A common one read:
There is no land beyond the law
Where tyrants rule with unshakable power!
'Tis but a dream from which the evil wake
To face their fate, their terrifying hour!
In late 1940, the Sandman was selected by Doctor Fate to join the struggle against Nazi invasion forces, alongside several other American mystery-men. The culmination of this encounter was the formation of the Justice Society of America, of which the Sandman was a charter member. In mid-1941, he also took part in the case in which the JSA prevented Ian Karkull from murdering individuals destined to occupy the White House over the next 50 years. The culmination of this case was the destruction of Karkull and the exposure of the assembled heroes to the chronal energy stored in Karkull's body. As a result, the Sandman has aged much more slowly than normal humans.
Wesley was created by Gardner Fox and Bert Christman.
In late 1941, during a time when Dodds was away on business, Dian Belmont disguised herself as the Sandman and pursued some local Nazi agents. As she raced toward them in her car, shots were fired and she was forced to crash. She was seriously injured minutes before the Sandman himself arrived on the scene, and was later reported dead, though it was later discovered that she had survived. Nevertheless, shortly afterward, the Sandman began to sport a new gold and purple costume, one he bought for a costume ball earlier but which had been modified. He also took over the guardianship of Dian's nephew, Sandy Hawkins, who became his costumed sidekick as Sandy the Golden Boy.
In December 1941, the Sandman was captured by Per Degaton along with the other active JSAers, plus Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman, and Robin. Their rescue led to the formation of the All-Star Squadron, of which the Sandman was an active member. The Sandman was active as a member of the JSA until mid-1945. By this point, Dodds was beginning to show signs of familial heart disease; his first attack had precipitated his scaled-back activities and resignation from the JSA active duty roster.
Sometime prior to 1951, the Sandman was plying his novice scientific acumen with his partner Sandy Hawkins in an attempt to make a weapon using silicon derived from sand. The weapon exploded during the experiment, and Sandy was transformed into a silicoid monster. Terrified at Sandy's initial raving delirium, the Sandman caught him in a moment of weakness and sedated him. Unable to treat him and fearing that an misunderstanding public would demand his destruction, the Sandman kept him sedated in a large chamber in a basement of his home. Shortly after this, Dodds gave up the role of the Sandman completely and spent the intervening years in retirement with the rest of his Justice Society comrades.
Silver Age and Bronze Age
In the 1960s, the Sandman emerged from retirement wearing the original gas mask and trench coat garb on his early days, to prevent himself from being reminded of Sandy's fate. The Sandman was semi-active as a member of the Justice Society. In the mid-1970s, an interruption in Sandy's gas sedation allowed him to escape his chamber. His silicoid body was now sensitive to seismic variation in the earth, and an impending earthquake had driven him on a rampage because of the intense pain the seismic variations generated in him. The combined might of the JLA and JSA subdued , and he revealed that he was not only lucid, but also had been conscious for all the years that the Sandman had kept him imprisoned. then was sent to series of research labs and hospitals in an attempt to find a treatment for his condition.
The Sandman was nearly crushed by the shame of his pride and ignorance in not seeking other help for , and retired some time later. During this time, the weight of his guilt (and the probable loss of the intense dreams that drove his early career) led Dodds to seek psychiatric help from Dr. Raymond Baxter. With Baxter's help, Dodds was able to forget that he had ever been the Sandman. He spent years in blissful forgetfulness, until a gangster named "Snooze" Simpson sought revenge on the Sandman, with knowledge of Dodds obtained from Baxter's daughter. A pre-programmed code phrase, "Sandy Hawkins," reawakened Dodds' knowledge of his heroic identity. Simpson and his gang were sent back to jail, and the Sandman returned to his costumed activities.
Some weeks later, the Sandman discovered that a disgruntled former scientist (now known as the Shatterer) had kidnapped Sandy from the research facility where he had been under observation. The Shatterer was using his own technology and the seismic "focusing" properties of Sandy Hawkin's silicoid body to generate enormous seismic currents and wreak vengeance on his former colleagues. Using a carbon-based ray similar to the silicon-based ray that originally transformed him, Sandy reverted to his carbon based form. The Shatterer was enraged at the loss of this resource, but a final seismic tremor in Sandy's body opened the ground beneath the Shatterer and then closed it upon him when he fell inside. The Shatterer presumably died as a result. Because his silicoid body had been immune to aging, he was the same age he had been when he was originally transformed. Together Sandy and the Sandman resumed a life of at least semi-active crime-fighting.
The Sandman has a medical history of cardiovascular disease; as a result, he suffered a stroke in the early 1980s. Although this stroke forced the Sandman to restrict his activities, he participated to a limited degree in the Crisis on Infinite Earths, and joined the rest of the JSA in Limbo as they fought to forestall Ragnarok. When the JSA returned from Limbo, Dodds had another stroke. The Sandman recovered in time to stop the murder of a visiting dignitary in the same hospital. He later returned to a quiet life, where it was revealed that the dreams of his early career had ceased to plague him. The Sandman joined the JSA in its assault on Extant during Zero Hour. Along with the rest of the JSA, he was aged to extreme senescence. He did, however, survive Zero Hour, and made a recent appearance at the Wake of Morpheus. Although in advanced old age, Wesley Dodds still ventures occasionally into the spotlight. Most recently he has joined the son of Ted Knight (Starman) in resolving the murder of a socialite, John Blaine. The adventure reawakened in Dodds the desire to have more than a quiet retired life. He and Dian liquidated their assets and resolved to the spend their last days traveling the world one last time.
Dian Belmont died shortly after their arrival in the Orient, presumably from cancer or some other chronic disease affecting the elderly. Shortly thereafter, Wesley Dodds became aware of a growing mystic threat, a being known as the Dark Lord who would attempt to prevent the arrival of Dr. Fate in the land of the living. Working hastily, he contacted old acquaintance Speed Saunders and arranged for the protection of the three infants selected as potential hosts. When Dodds was finally confronted with the Dark Lord in Tibet, he took his own like rather than allow the mage to pry the information on the infants from his mind. He was laid to rest alongside Diane at the mystery-man cemetary known as. He was one of the few dead members of the JSA who rose during Blackest Night.
In Flashpoint, a Sandman that resembled the old gasmask version of Wesley Dodds appeared. He refers to having a dream in 1938 or 1939 of super powered individuals teaming up in the future.
In the post flashpoint reality of Earth 2 Wesley Dodds appears as the Canadian leader of a covert operatives group called the "Sandmen" who use their teleportation and stealth skills to aid the World Army and Amar Khan. He is first seen saving the President of the United States during Solomon Grundy's attack on Washington D.C. teleporting her to safety. Mistrusting the devious Terry SloaneDodds willingly kidnaps a brainwashed Michael Holt from Sloane's lab for Khan, trashing the place in the process.
During the World Army invasion of Dherain The Sandmen along with Al Pratt and Red Arrow are on the front lines of the assault, reluctantly accepting the help of Dr. Fate, Green Lanern and The Flash after Hunger Dogs attack. Unfortunately due to the might of Brutaal the Wonders are beaten with the Sandmen taking especially heavy casualties. He is last seen teleporting Amar Kahn to safety after Kahn was impaled by a piece of rubble
Powers and Abilities
The Sandman's powers depend on chemical weaponry of his own design and a gas gun given to him by Lee Travis, the Crimson Avenger. The weapons tend to be various forms of anesthetics and sedatives that render his victims unconscious or at least immobile. These were disguised in various compartments of his uniform. Like many of his comrades, he was limited to his weaponry. Without it, he was as defenseless as any other human of his age and condition.
On a more extraordinary level Dodds often receives clues to the case he is working on in the form of esoteric dreams; this is the only "super" power he has, and could be viewed as somewhere between premonition or advanced intuition.