Tuesday, March 27, 2012


Sand Saref (whose name is a joke on the typeface "sans serif") first appeared in the January 8, 1950 edition of Will Eisner's SPIRIT comic-book section.  However, as recounted in the Eclipse reprint JOHN LAW from 1983, Sand was originally conceived as the foil to a new hero Eisner had planned to self-publish: an eyepatch-wearing, pipe-smoking detective-hero named John Law.  When plans for the new comic fell through, Eisner simply retooled the John Law art into a SPIRIT adventure-- far from difficult since the mask-wearing hero and the eyepatch-wearing hero weren't physically dissimilar.

Given that the SPIRIT comic would be cancelled in October 1952, Sand (clearly drawn to resemble film-femme fatale Lauren Bacall) didn't have a lot of time to register an impression, though Eisner did manage to work her into a few later Spirit-tales.  However, it's the original story that made Eisnerphiles elevate Sand to the first rank of the hero's best female villains.

In a narrative that strongly resembles a Warner Brothers morality-play film from the 1930s or 1940s, the Spirit learns that Sand has come to his city in order to execute a deal to sell a Nazi-created virus to the highest criminal bidder.  But the criminal side of Sand proves less important than the Spirit's memories of having loved her when the two of them were tenement youngsters.  Due to a complicated tragedy that killed both Sand's father and the Spirit's as well, the Spirit devoted his life to crimefighting while Sand followed the path of crime.  Nevertheless, when the Spirit appears to foil Sand's scheme, she saves his life and he lets her escape the authorities.

Frank Miller not only adapted large chunks of the first Sand story for his 2008 SPIRIT movie, in 1981 he also swiped its essential outlines for the origin of Elektra in DAREDEVIL #168.

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