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Wesley Dodds: The Sandman #6
DC Comics

Comic Books

‘Wesley Dodds: The Sandman’ #6 is a bloody knife fight of a conclusion

Sandman fans as well as Golden Age fans in general will be happy with the final pages and excited for what may come next.

After the shocking twist in the final page of last month’s issue, Wesley is on a collision course with one of his closest friends, Wheeler Vanderlyle. It’s the final confrontation between Wesley and the man responsible for stealing his research journal and all of the dangerous chemical weapons contained within. Vanderlyle wants to use the journal for war, to strike at America’s enemies first before they get the chance to do the same. Wesley wishes the contents to remain secret, never to be used for such deadly purposes. It’s a classic contest between a pacifist and a pragmatist. With the lives of millions on the line, will the Sandman be able to put this potentially horrible future to rest?

DC Preview: Wesley Dodds: The Sandman #6

Another beautiful title treatment made of shattered glass and flying papers
DC Comics

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The Story

It’s quickly established that Vanderlyle plans on killing Humphries, but Wesley comes crashing through the window in the nick of time. Wesley is forced to remove his mask and gas gun in order to protect Humphries from Wheeler’s blade. The ensuing confrontation between Wesley and Wheeler lasts the majority of the issue, with each man stating their case for what they believe to be the best course of action. Wheeler’s argument is very similar to what we heard from Breckenridge in the previous issue. The ability to strike first and use these deadly weapons against America’s enemies is paramount to Wheeler. As a veteran of the First World War, he knows firsthand what a long, protracted stalemate between two armies looks like. A first strike capability would be very appealing to a man with his experiences. As a pacifist, Wesley believes that the weapons he created should never be used. He argues that even if America were to use the weapons first, it would only be a matter of time before the enemies of the United States created similar or perhaps even more deadly weapons.

Venditti does a great job of telling the story solely through dialog. There are no captions or even thought bubbles, just a heated conversation between two impassioned individuals, ready to risk it all for their goals. Venditti finds an interesting way to put Wesley’s pacifism to the test- he refuses to take up arms and die “with a weapon in [his] hand.” Wheeler also uses the memory of Wesley’s father to taunt him. But where Wheeler assumes the elder Dodds would be ashamed of his son for not acting to strengthen America’s forces in the coming war, Wesley has a completely different concern. It’s been clear throughout the book that Wesley has been struggling with how his father would judge his legacy and causing the deaths of thousands or even millions of soldiers would be absolutely devastating. The ending is a satisfying conclusion to the story and doesn’t leave any ambiguities about the plot. Ultimately, Wheeler’s greed and indifference to the suffering of others led him to strike a deal with Breckenridge and steal Wesley’s journal to mass produce his deadly chemical weapons. By sticking to his morals and convictions, Wesley was able to discover the plot against him and triumph against Wheeler.

Wesley Dodds: The Sandman #6

DC Comics

The Art

Rossmo’s art is once again nearly perfect in this issue. The fight choreography is excellently done, without any significant breaks in the action for nearly 15 pages. Rossmo’s layouts are intricately planned with endless variation, no two pages are exactly alike. Panels overlap, bleed into one another, or are scattered on the page, like a pile of Polaroids strewn on the floor. The main light source in the room comes from a fireplace, which Rossmo uses to create excellent shadows and contrasts, especially at emotional moments in the scene. When Wesley bumps his head dodging a knife slash, he starts having visions again, and sees his father in military uniform asking “What did you do?” repeatedly. Rossmo renders a beautiful splash page with green sleep gas, a huge bayonet streaking across the page and a fiery apocalyptic war zone complete with piles of soldiers – one fate that could come to pass if Wheeler starts producing these dangerous chemical weapons. Facial expressions oscillate between rage, determination, surprise and shock, always letting you know exactly what the characters are going through in the moment.

Plascencia’s colors add another layer of depth to the story. The deep and vibrant reds of Wheeler’s smoking jacket mixed in with the blood coating the blade as well as Wesley’s brown overcoat and face provides some great contrasts. The light of the fireplace is also rendered very well, throwing faces into light and shadow as well as reflecting in Wesley’s glasses in a particularly striking panel. A red tinge also highlights many panels when Wesley is being savagely beaten by a fire poker.

Wesley Dodds: The Sandman #6

No tricks or toys for the Sandman, just his wits and mitts.
DC Comics

Final Thoughts

Wesley Dodds: The Sandman #6 delivers a climactic showdown between Wesley and Wheeler, two characters entrenched in opposing ideologies. As the narrative unfolds through a dynamic dialogue-driven approach, Venditti tests Wesley’s pacifism, challenging him to confront the moral quandary of using his dangerous creations for the greater good. The tension escalates as Wheeler’s wartime experiences and pragmatic viewpoint clash with Wesley’s principled stance.

Rossmo’s artwork once again shines, capturing the intensity of the confrontation with meticulously crafted fight choreography and emotionally charged expressions. The use of shadows, contrasts, and Rossmo’s unique layout design enhance the visual storytelling, complemented by Plascencia’s rich and vibrant colors that bring an additional layer of depth to the narrative.

Though satisfying, the ending was a bit predictable and relies on a sort of deus ex machina. There’s a short epilogue to end the series, and I think that Sandman fans as well as Golden Age fans in general will be happy with the final pages and excited for what may come next.

Wesley Dodds: The Sandman #6
‘Wesley Dodds: The Sandman’ #6 is a bloody knife fight of a conclusion
Wesley Dodds: The Sandman #6
Wesley Dodds: The Sandman #6 delivers a climactic showdown between Wesley and Wheeler, two characters entrenched in opposing ideologies. The narrative unfolds through a dynamic dialogue-driven approach. Rossmo's artwork once again shines, capturing the intensity of the confrontation with meticulously crafted fight choreography and emotionally charged expressions. Complemented by Plascencia's rich and vibrant colors that bring an additional layer of depth to the narrative.
Reader Rating1 Votes
8.7
Dynamic, dialogue-driven approach to storytelling
Rossmo's artwork shines with meticulously crafted fight choreography and emotionally charged expressions.
Unique layout design enhances the visual storytelling, complemented by Plascencia's rich and vibrant colors.
Bit of a deus ex machina ending
8.5
Great
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