"The Tarantula (Act I of IV)": 1938
- When heroes are clowns who jump, run and hop – no honour in service ne'er doctor nor cop.
Synopsis for "The Tarantula (Act I of IV)"
District attorney Larry Belmont engages in an argument with his daughter, Dian. Mr. Belmont doesn't want his daughter going out for the evening, but Dian reminds him that she is an adult now, and not a little girl any longer. She storms out of the house and he retreats to his study. Inside, he finds the Sandman skulking about the office. The Sandman douses him with a blast of sleeping gas and leaves the brownstone.
Dian meanwhile goes to a jazz club where she meets her friend, Catherine van der Meer. After several hours of drinking and dancing, they take a taxi home.
That evening, Wesley Dodds, recently returned from abroad, attends a fundraising campaign where he meets district attorney Belmont and Dian. He also meets his father's old friend, retired judge Thomas Schaffer. Mr. Belmont learns that somebody has abducted Catherine van der Meer. The kidnapper left a calling card, referring to himself as the Tarantula. Wesley shares a taxi home with the judge, who informs him of the kidnapping. Wesley then races back to his manor to investigate the matter as the Sandman.
Meanwhile, former mob leader, Albert Goldman welcomes several old colleagues into his home. Moses Berman and Lenny Green meet Goldman's wife, Miriam, and children, Roger and Celia. Celia acts flirtatious, as her father looks on scornfully. Nobody notices the Sandman lurking outside their windows.
After spying on the Goldmans for a short time, Wesley pays a visit to the Belmonts. When Wesley leaves, Mr. Belmont informs his daughter of the kidnapping, and how there's now a second victim involved. Later that evening, judge Schaffer drops by to talk with Wesley at his home. He informs Wesley about the second kidnapping.
The next day, Dian goes to the police station, and as she steps into the station's restroom, she finds the Sandman.
To be continued...
Appearing in "The Tarantula (Act I of IV)"
- Tarantula (First appearance)
- Albert Goldman (a gangster)
- Lenny Green (a gangster)
- Moses Berman (a gangster)
- Bert Lahr (Cameo)
- Bugsy Siegel (Cameo)
- Joe DiMaggio (Cameo)
- Meyer Lansky (Cameo)
- Tallulah Bankhead (Cameo)
- William Powell
- Catherine van der Meer (a socialite)
- Celia Goldman (Albert Goldman's daughter)
- Charlie Malloy (a cab driver)
- Miriam Goldman (Albert Goldman's wife)
- Pascal (a police officer) (Single appearance)
- Roger Goldman (Albert Goldman's son)
- Ross O'Donald (a police detective)
- Solly (a dishwasher) (Single appearance)
- Judge Thomas Schaffer
- Sandman Mystery Theatre is an ongoing series published under DC Comics' Vertigo imprint. Each issue is marked with a "Suggested for Mature Readers" warning.
- The character of the Sandman was created by Gardner Fox and Creig Flessel. By 1942, Joe Simon and Jack Kirby pulled the Sandman away from his pulp-noir roots, providing him with a colorful, purple and yellow super-hero costume, and a boy sidekick named Sandy.
- This issue is reprinted in Sandman Mystery Theatre: The Tarantula (trade paperback).
- This is the earliest chronological appearance of Wesley Dodds - the Sandman. This storyline takes place in the year 1938 and partially revamps the Sandman story chronicled in Adventure Comics #40. The two tales should be considered as separate stories however, as the Tarantula that appears in Adventure Comics #40 makes return appearances in the pages of the All-Star Squadron, while the Tarantula from Sandman Mystery Theatre makes his final appearance in issue #4.
- The Tarantula from this story should also not be confused with Jonathan Law, the crime-fighting member of the All-Star Squadron, or the above mentioned Golden Age villain, Crossart.
- This storyline presents the first meeting between Wesley Dodds and Dian Belmont. Wes and Dian will become lifelong companions, sharing many adventures together. In time, Dian will come to learn that Wes is also the Sandman.
- This issue establishes that Wesley Dodds has only recently returned to New York City after spending a great deal of time in the Orient.
- Although they both share the same alias, Wesley Dodds has almost no connection to Dream of the Endless. However, Dream is responsible for Wesley's penchant for prophetic dreaming, as revealed in Sandman: Midnight Theater #1.
- Earliest chronological appearance of Dian Belmont.
- Earliest chronological appearance of Larry Belmont.
- Charlie Malloy is the taxi-cab driver that drives Dian and Catherine home. He is not referenced by name until issue #2.
- Ross O'Donald is a police detective. He is referenced only as O'Donald in this issue. His first name is not provided until issue #2.
- Moses Berman is referenced only as Mister Berman in this issue. His first name is not provided until issue #3.
- Although Wesley Dodds is an American, he demonstrates certain European grammatical traits in the prose that he writes; example: he writes the word honour instead of honor.
- Several real-world personalities make guest appearances in this issue.