Spider-Man has fought many bizarre villains over his career, each with a unique power source. Some, like the Scorpion and Vulture, pattern themselves after animals like Spidey. Others, like Mysterio, use technology to mimic mystical abilities. And then, there’s Spider-Man’s villain the Sandman who once found a way to draw power from the most unlikely power source of all…
One of Spidey’s first villains, Sandman was originally a low-level thug named Flint Marko who got caught in a radioactive blast (which tended to happen to a lot of people during the Silver Age) and transformed into a sand-like creature who could shapeshift into anything he could imagine. While this made him dangerous enough, in later stories, Sandman’s powers became considerably weirder.
Following a bizarre adventure where his sand body merged with Hydro Man’s water-like form and turned into a composite mud creature, Sandman tried to quit crime and even ended up joining the Avengers. However, he was soon brainwashed into becoming a villain again and joined a new version of the Sinister Six, during which Venom bit the Sandman and altered his body chemistry. As he began slowly falling apart, Sandman went on a brief rampage and was stopped by Spider-Man who could only watch as his enemy/friend disintegrated into nothingness and merged with the sand on the beach.
While the experience seemed to destroy Marko, he got a chance to restore himself a few months later when a group of drunken Spring Breakers decided to hold a party at the beach. Sponsored by “Sonic Request Daily,” the party included appearances by several celebrity pop stars clearly parodied off of Britney Spears, N*Sync, Enrique Iglesias, and Beyonce. Many of the celebrities ended up going off on their own for some private partying – only to be swallowed up by the beach itself.
That’s right – Sandman, attracted to the celebrities’ massive egos, was instinctively absorbing them into himself and making their psyches part of his damaged consciousness. And while his earlier experience had left him so traumatized that he couldn’t re-form his body, thanks to the “team effort” of all the celebrity egos now part of him, he soon regained his power.
Meanwhile, Spider-Man – alerted by the reports of the missing beach partiers – went down to the beach to investigate. Although Sonic TV wasn’t thrilled to have the webslinger spoil their party, production manager Teale Hunter soon took advantage of the situation by having Spidey appear at several party events as another celebrity guest. This led to Peter Parker taking part in some terrible activities – like judging a whipped cream bikini contest and being rolled down a hill in a fully loaded porta potty.
However, things get serious (sort of), when Sandman gains enough power to rebuild his entire body and engage Spider-Man in battle. Now a total egomaniac who’s stopped wearing pants and considers fights “retro,” Sandman continues eating celebrities, likening them as spinach to his Popeye. Desperately, Spider-Man tries to bruise the celebrities’ egos to make them less attractive to Sandman, but the self-absorbed pop stars are to full of themselves to really be affected.
Ultimately, however, Sandman’s incredible power source turns out to be his undoing. Since all of the celebrities he consumed can’t stand to be in the same room with each other, they eventually start fighting with each other in Sandman’s mind and blow him up from the inside. Freed of their captor (and somehow still human and healthy despite spending several hours as part of a composite Sandman), the celebrities go back to their usual drinking and debauchery.
Sandman would recover (although his shaky mental state would continue to affect his sand-form – eventually splitting him into multiple sand people representing his inner child, feminine side, “good” self, and criminal tendencies). His brief tenure as the monster/victim of a Spring Break party stands as one of his weirder adventures, and likely one that Spider-Man would much rather forget.
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