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Art by Mark Bagley
Publication information
PublisherMarvel Comics
First appearanceThe Amazing Spider-Man #4 (September 1963)
Created byStan Lee
Steve Ditko
In-story information
Alter egoWilliam Baker
Team affiliationsSinister Six
Frightful Four
Wild Pack
The Outlaws
The Intruders
Notable aliasesFlint Marko, Sylvester Mann, Quarryman
AbilitiesSuperhuman strength, durability and endurance
Flight (in sandstorm form)
Size and mass manipulation
Density control
Completely organic sand within body
Earth manipulation

Sandman (William Baker a.k.a. Flint Marko) is a fictional supervillain appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. A shapeshifter endowed through an accident with the ability to turn himself into sand, he began as a villain and later became an ally of Spider-Man. The character has been adapted into various other media incarnations of Spider-Man, including animated cartoons and the 2007 film Spider-Man 3, in which he is portrayed by Thomas Haden Church.

In 2009, Sandman was ranked as IGN's 72nd Greatest Comic Book Villain of All Time.[1]

Publication history

This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (March 2015)

The Sandman first appeared in The Amazing Spider-Man #4 (Sept. 1963), created by writer Stan Lee and artist Steve Ditko as an adversary of Spider-Man.[2] The character returned in The Amazing Spider-Man #18 and #19, and was soon depicted in other comics, such as The Incredible Hulk and The Fantastic Four.

The Sandman served as the villain of the first issue of the Spider-Man spin-off series Marvel Team-Up (March 1972), which gave him a more morally ambiguous depiction. Writer Roy Thomas later commented, "I've been pleased to see Sandman's gradual redemption, whose seeds perhaps I helped plant in that story. He just seemed to me like a character who might have that in him ..."[3] Subsequent stories stuck with the character's original depiction, but a decade later the more sympathetic portrayal of the Sandman returned, starting with Marvel Two-in-One #86 (April 1982),[3] in which the Sandman is given co-star billing with his nemesis the Thing. The Sandman was later an ally of Spider-Man, as well as a member of the Avengers and Silver Sable's "Wild Pack" team of mercenaries.

Fictional character biography

William Baker was born in Queens, New York. When he was three years old, his father abandoned him and his mother. In these early years she took her son to Coney Island beach. He lost himself happily in sand sculptures, a craft he would use in secondary school under the encouragement of his teacher (and first crush), Miss Flint.[4]

In preparatory school, a boy named Vic bullied Baker until he learned to fight using an opponents' motions against themselves, a technique he performed as if he "slipped through their fingers like sand". Vic and his buddies eventually befriended Baker. In high school, William played on his school's football team, using the sport to channel his anger. While playing football he adopted the nickname "Flint", after his former teacher.[4]

After Vic incurs a large gambling debt to a mobster, he begs Flint to fix a football game he bet on to pay off his debt. Flint does, but is kicked off the team after the coach discovers his involvement. The coach taunts Baker, telling him that he will accomplish nothing of importance in his life. Flint hits his ex-coach, resulting in his expulsion from school and the beginning of his life of crime.

His illegal activity increases in depth and scope, turning him into a violent, bitter man. Eventually he ends up in prison on Ryker's Island where he meets his father, Floyd Baker. He is friendly to his father but does not tell him who he is. He tells Floyd his nickname, Flint, and a false surname, Marko, inspired by his former coach's taunts about not "making a mark" on the world. He uses the alias Flint Marko from that point on.[4] (He changed his name also to prevent his mother from discovering he's a criminal.[5]) After Floyd is released from prison, Marko escapes.[4]

Marko flees to a nuclear testing site on a beach near Savannah, Georgia where he comes into contact with sand that had been irradiated by an experimental reactor. His body and the radioactive sand bond, changing Marko's molecular structure into sand. Impressed, he calls himself the Sandman after his new powers.

Marko clashes with Peter Parker/Spider-Man for the first time in Peter's high school. Spider-Man defeats Marko with a vacuum cleaner and hands it over to the police.[6] The Sandman escapes by getting through his window after turning himself to sand, but is recaptured by the Human Torch after the Torch lures the Sandman to a building by disguising himself as Spider-Man, then activating the sprinkler systems. After this Marko resurfaces as a member of the Sinister Six, led by Doctor Octopus. He battles Spider-Man inside an airtight metal box, which is activated when Spider-Man touches a card saying where the Vulture is, but the Sandman is defeated due to Spider-Man having stronger lungs than him.[7]

Alongside the Enforcers, he captures the Human Torch but later succumbs to Spider-Man and the Human Torch.[8]

After Spider-Man defeats Flint numerous times, Flint diverts his attention to other super heroes. He teams with the Wizard, Paste Pot Pete and Medusa to form the Frightful Four to combat the Fantastic Four, which attacks during Reed and Sue's engagement party. The Fantastic Four, with the help of a few other super heroes, defeat the group.[9] In another battle in which he loses against the Four, he dons a diamond-patterned green costume with a purple hat, designed by Wizard.[10] Later he and Hulk duel for the first time. Mandarin joins him in his next conflict against the Hulk.[11]

In time Sandman discovers—-starting with his hands—-that his body can transform into glass and back again. He contracts cancer and takes over a medical research center. He battles Wonder Man but is cured of cancer by radiation.[12] Afterward, he allies himself with Hydro-Man to battle their mutual enemy, Spider-Man. An accident merges the two villains into a monster called Mud-Thing. Spider-Man and the police are able to dehydrate the monstrosity.[13] Months later, the supervillains manage to separate themselves and go their separate ways.[volume & issue needed]

The time trapped with Hydro-Man caused Marko to question his bad life choices. The Thing, after an aborted attempt to fight Baker, urges him to straighten himself out and use his ability to do good.[14] The story continues when he meets with the Thing for a second time to see a sports game.[15]

Marko boards with the Cassadas and teams with Spider-Man against the Enforcers.[16] Sandman then makes sporadic appearances in Spider-Man comics assisting his former enemy. His first appearance has him coming to the rescue of Spider-Man and Silver Sable, who are outnumbered and surrounded by the Sinister Syndicate. Silver Sable is impressed by Sandman's performance and recruits him as a freelance operative.[17] Doctor Octopus coerces him to rejoin Sinister Six, but Marko turns against them. Doctor Octopus turns him into glass for his treason. Spider-Man, however, saved the Sandman.[18] Sandman also appears as part of The Outlaws, a group of reformed Spider-Man enemies, such as Prowler, Rocket Racer, Puma and Will o' the Wisp, on occasion that would aid Spider-Man.[19]

Later he receives a presidential pardon and briefly joins the Avengers as a reserve member.[20] Later, he becomes a full-time mercenary in the employ of Silver Sable, as a member of her Wild Pack, serving alongside heroes such as Paladin and Battlestar.[volume & issue needed] Sandman is one of the few heroes temporarily overwhelmed by their evil doubles during the Infinity War. This double almost kills them all.[volume & issue needed]

In The Amazing Spider-Man vol. 2 #4, Marko turns against Spider-Man and his sometimes ally Thing and declared his allegiance to evil and his former employer, the villainous Wizard. This change proved incompatible to what many fans had thought Sandman had become, what he had reformed to, a hero. [citation needed]. This outcry caused Marvel to rush out a story,[citation needed] in Peter Parker: Spider-Man vol. 2 #12, which retconned The Amazing Spider-Man #4 in which the Wizard kidnapped Sandman and used his mind control machine, the Id Machine, to control him.

The machine worked too well and Sandman went about reforming the Sinister Six to destroy both Spider-Man and Doctor Octopus, only to be double-crossed by Venom, who Sandman recruited as the sixth member of the team. During Venom's brawl against Sandman, the vicious black spider's mouth rips a chunk of sand from Sandman. That missing sand destabilizes Sandman, causing him to lose his ability to maintain his human form. Before falling into the sewer (and as a nod to fans who rejected Marvel's attempt to re-villainize the character), Sandman admitted that part of the reason for his fall from grace was the trouble he had to really cope with life on the good guys' side, and asks Spider-Man to tell his mother he's sorry he didn't fulfill his promise to her, to be a force for good. Sandman washes away and slides down a sewer, from which he mixes into Jones Beach, New York[21] and is thought dead.[volume & issue needed]

Sandman's body and mind are scattered throughout the beach. This separation lasts too long for him, causing his mind to split into good and its opposite, evil, which when dominant created sand vortexes to ensnare beach combers. Spider-Man arrived to confront Sandman, ultimately using Sandman's mental instability to free his captives and cause him to explode.[volume & issue needed]

His sand wafts throughout New York and touches down into piles forming beings that personify him: the good, the bad, the gentle and the innocent. Spider-Man locates these sandmen to convinces them to unify. Sandman's evil persona merges with his innocent and gentle personas, but Sandman's good one rebuffs the evil one. Because Sandman's mind can handle his personality in separation for only a limited time, he loses his ability to retain himself, crumbling and blowing away, leaving Spider-Man to ponder the nature of his scuddled foe.[22]

Sandman is one of the villains recruited to recover the Identity Disc, but during its recovery seemingly he is killed in a mutiny. At the series' end Sandman is found alive and working with Vulture to manipulate the other villains.[volume & issue needed]

In the storyline "Sandblasted", in Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #17–19 (April-June 2007), Sandman asks Spider-Man to help him redeem his father, who has been charged with and imprisoned for murdering a homeless man. He admits his father was a petty criminal but insists he wouldn't commit murder. Baker also said the victim resembles Peter Parker's Uncle Ben, who had been murdered years before then. Sandman and Spider-Man find the killer, Chameleon 2211. Chameleon 2211 kills Uncle Ben who Hobgoblin 2211 brought from an alternate universe[23] and had been posing as him after that. Thanks to Spider-Man, Floyd Baker is switched with Chameleon 2211 and saved, for which Sandman thanks Spider-Man.

Sandman returned in Spider-Man: The Gauntlet storyline, which redefined the character and his powers/mental state. While investigating a series of murders and a missing girl named Keemia, whose mother is a victim of those murders, Spider-Man traces the murders and the abduction to the Sandman, the girl's father, who is hiding on Governor's Island with Keemia. Sandman's powers have evolved to where he can create duplicates of himself who have their own personalities and to Marko's shock claim they committed the murders.[24]

Spider-Man sneaks away and uses a fan to obliterate the sandmen. Originally Spider-Man believed Keemia would be handed to her grandmother, but instead she was sent to a foster home by Child Protective Services. Carlie, one of Spider-Man's friends who had been under police suspicion for tampering with evidence from the murders committed by Sandman's duplicates, is exonerated, but Sandman is at large.[25]

During the Origin of the Species storyline, Sandman is among the supervillains invited by Doctor Octopus to join his villains' team where he becomes involved in a plot to receive a reward and securing some specific items for him. Sandman went after Spider-Man for Menace's infant, believing that Doctor Octopus would reward him by reuniting him with Keemia. He ended up being accidentally struck with lightning by Electro, temporarily turning him into fulgurite.[26] Spider-Man goes on a rampage against all the villains after the Chameleon stole the infant and tricked him into believing it had died. At the dock, Sandman along with Shocker and the Enforcers are hiding, however Spider-Man collapses the floor of the building, which falls into the water. Sandman attempts to rise to attack, but Spider-Man shoots him using Shocker's vibrational air-blasts.[27]

In Big Time, he is part of the new Sinister Six, along with Mysterio, Rhino, Doctor Octopus, Chameleon and Electro. He rises up against Doctor Octopus' plan to detonate New York, saying Keemia is still there.[28] He is later angered when, during a confrontation between the Sinister Six and the Intelligencia, Doctor Octopus teleports the Wizard into the upper atmosphere using the Intelligencia's equipment (Sandman was talking with his former Frightful Four teammate and old friend at the time). When the Mad Thinker goes after Electro, Sandman violently attacks him, claiming that he did not want to lose any more friends.[29]

When Doctor Octopus puts his plan into action, Sandman is satisfied with the job because of the planned two billion dollar "compensation fee", which he reasons will help him gain custody of Keemia. However, although sent to guard a facility in the Sahara Desert giving him complete control of the largest body of sand in the world, he is defeated by Spider-Man, Black Widow and Silver Sable when Spider-Man identifies and isolates the one grain of sand that contains his conscious mind.[30] Spider-Man and Silver Sable then violently interrogate Sandman to reveal all of Doctor Octopus' secrets to them.[31]

Following the Dying Wish storyline, Sandman's captive form is later stolen from the Baxter Building by the Superior Spider-Man (Doctor Octopus' mind in Spider-Man's body) where he takes him to his underwater lab.[32] Sandman, Chameleon, Electro, Mysterion, and the Vulture are later seen as part of a team led by Superior Spider-Man called the "Superior Six". Superior Spider-Man has been temporarily controlling their minds in order to redeem them for their crimes. He does this by forcing them do heroic deeds against their will some of which almost get some of them killed. Every time he is done controlling them, he puts them back in their containment cells.[33] They eventually break free of Superior Spider-Man's control and attempt to exact revenge on the wall-crawler, while nearly destroying New York in order to do so.[34] With the help of Sun Girl, Superior Spider-Man is barely able to stop the Superior Six.[35]

Inspired by the heroism of the villains who had their moralities inverted by the events of AXIS, Sandman rejoins one of his old gangs, and breaks into Ryker's Island in search of the group's leader, Dixon. Upon reaching Dixon's cell, Sandman turns on and incapacitates him and his followers, and leaves with Dixon's cellmate, a "good egg" who Sandman had deemed deserving of a second chance.[36]

During the Secret Wars storyline, Sandman is among the villains at Kingpin's viewing party of the incursion between Earth-616 and Earth-1610.[37]

Powers and abilities

Sandman has the ability to transform his body. He can will his body hardened, compacted, dispersed or shaped, or a combination of those qualities, an Earth manipulation of sand and rock particles. More often than not in combat, this ability enables him to absorb most blows with little to no ill effect other than reforming himself, a relatively fast action. His striped shirt and cargo pants are colored sand to make him appear as if he wears clothes. Even when soaked, he was able to stretch his sand molecules, growing to double his size.

Sandman can mold his arms and hands into shapes such as a mace or a sledgehammer to battle Spider-Man and his other enemies. His mass, strength and shape shifting ability correspond to the number of sand and rock particles that comprise him. The more he incorporates (nearby) sand grains and rock granules into his body, the more those qualities are enhanced. Even though he controls every particle in his body, his mind exists in the astral plane. He can turn himself into a sandstorm, which enables him to fly great distances and to suffocate his enemies.

His body takes on sand's chemical qualities, impervious to many, but not all, elements. Once, cement's ingredients were mixed into Sandman. That mixture turned him into cement that dried, rendering him immobile. Despite this frailty, he remained alive but in a comalike state for a while before he returned to normal.[volume & issue needed] In addition to his superb endurance, the Sandman possesses superhuman strength several times more than Spider-Man's, on par with the Thing's.

In a story with the Wizard, the Wizard fashioned Sandman a suit with a belt that contained chemicals to mix into the Sandman to enable him to change himself into consistencies related to sand. The suit's composition, as Sandman's usual "clothes", changed with him.[volume & issue needed] Eventually Sandman stopped using the suit.[volume & issue needed]

Temperature does alter the Sandman. At 3,400 Fahrenheit his body turns into glass, also a form he can control. Unlike Sandman's fast transformation from sand to glass, his transformation from glass to sand takes time.[38]

Although he is invulnerable to most physical attacks, even projectiles because they pass through him, water is a different story to him. So, too, is a rare physical attack. In combat against Venom, the villain's powerful mouth ripped cleanly and swiftly into Sandman. The amount of sand removed abruptly, and perhaps because of Venom's poisons, left the mass of Sandman in contortion, crippled beyond immediate repair. Sandman began to disintegrate, then flowed down a drain, and then washed up onto and into a beach.[39]

It has been revealed that, while Sandman can absorb and lose sand, his body must retain one key particle of sand that contains his conscious mind, allowing Spider-Man to defeat him by isolating that one grain from the rest of the Sandman (although the difficulty involved in setting up these events in the first place makes it impractical to use regularly).[30]

Other characters named Sandman

There had been some other characters in Marvel Comics that had been named "Sandman":

Other versions


Marvel 1602: Fantastick Four, a sequel to Neil Gaiman's Marvel 1602 written by Peter David, features the 1602 version of the Marvel Sandman. While he physically resembles Flint Marko, he has the pale skin and glowing eyes of Gaiman's Morpheus. He also alludes to an ability to summon nightmares. In the fourth issue he is able to send Ben Grimm to sleep by blowing a vapor or dust at him. Both the Sandman and Trapster are crushed by falling debris when Bensaylum collapses.[42]

Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows

During the Secret Wars storyline, Sandman allied himself with the rebel forces at S.H.I.E.L.D. following Regent conquering the world where part of it became the Battleworld domain of The Regency.[43] When Spider-Man exposes himself and is attacked by the Sinister Six, Sandman appears and tries to convince Spider-Man to follow him, but Spider-Man doesn't listen and assume Sandman's part of the Six. They are captured by Regent and he reads Sandman's mind to find out S.H.I.E.L.D's location. One of Spot's portals was sewn into Sandman, and as a last resort, he sacrifices himself to allow the rebels to break in using the portal in order to stop Regent and rescue Spider-Man.[44]

House of M: Masters of Evil

Sandman appears as a member of Hood's Masters of Evil.[45] He was killed by both Rogue and Marrow during the riot at Santo Rico.[46]


Sandman appears in the last issue among the Avengers fighting through Krona's stronghold, in a panel where he defeats Scorpion.[47]

Marvel Noir

In the Marvel Noir universe, Sandman exists, and exhibits slightly different powers to the mainstream Universe. Whilst he cannot externally change into sand, he can alter his internal physiology, and, as Spider-Man noted, his skin can feel like granite. He is an enforcer for the Crime Master.[48]

Marvel Zombies

In Marvel Zombies: Dead Days, the Sandman, having become a zombie, appears to attack Wolverine and Magneto alongside several other Spider-Man villains during an attempt to evacuate innocent civilians into a S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier. The six villains are repelled.[49] It is shown in Marvel Zombies Return#1 that the zombie Spider-Man is responsible for infecting this universe's Flint Marko.[volume & issue needed]

Marvel Zombies Return

A version of Sandman similar to a past version of 616 counterpart appears as part of a version of the Sinister Six. After Zombie Spider-Man teleports into this reality, the Kingpin sends the six to fight "Spider-Man". The other five members are violently killed by the zombie Spider-Man and Sandman flees, later encountering and killing his own reality's Spider-Man out of fear by forcing his own sand body mass down Spider-Man's throat and causing his stomach to bloat to massive proportions before violently exploding out of his chest. He is also disappointed by the seeming betrayal of his enemy, thinking that if Spider-Man is now willing to kill, then Sandman will also kill. Decades later, Sandman is infused with a nanite cure developed by Tony Stark and the Zombie Spider-Man that incorporates Wolverine's healing factor, which allows him to safely confront the Zombies. Working with a few allies that oppose the murderous zombies, the Sandman springs his trap. All zombies fall, destroyed from within. Upon his final death, Zombie Spider-Man thanks Sandman for avenging Aunt May and Mary Jane, to which Sandman replies, "Good riddance, ya disgusting freak." He is later congratulated by Uatu the Watcher for his great help.[50]


Sandman makes a cameo in Mini-Marvels when he attacks Spider-Man and the Team Poder while they were playing in a sandbox. He is defeated and turned into a sand castle.[volume & issue needed]


In Peter Porker, the Spectacular Spider-Ham #12 Sandman appears as a manatee called Sandmanatee.[51] He later joined the Sinister Swine and was turned to glass.[volume & issue needed]

Spider-Man: Reign

In Spider-Man: Reign Sandman is a part of an elderly Sinister Six which is under the control of the tyrannical power structure running New York. During the showdown between rebellious citizens at the Mayor's tower, the Sandman encounters his super-powered daughter, Susie but loses her due to wounds inflicted by the police. As such he abandons the Six and assists Spider-Man in defeating the tyrants.[52]

Ultimate Marvel

In the Ultimate Marvel Universe, Flint Marko is a genetic mutation by industrialist Justin Hammer who attempts to recreate the Super Soldier Serum. Shortly after Doctor Octopus kills Hammer, S.H.I.E.L.D. infiltrates Hammer's factory to obtain experiments Hammer had been working on. Marko uses this opportunity to escape and wreak havoc in New Jersey. S.H.I.E.L.D., with the help of Spider-Man, contains him and imprisons him in a S.H.I.E.L.D holding facility.

There, he meets fellow genetically altered criminals Norman Osborn (Green Goblin), Dr. Otto Octavius (Doctor Octopus), Max Dillon (Electro) and Kraven the Hunter. Under the Green Goblin's and Doctor Octopus's leadership, they break free and capture Spider-Man. They tie him to a chair, unmask, and humiliate Peter for being a child and for Norman Osborn and Otto Octavius's involvement in his creation. Osborn then blackmails Peter into joining the team, forming the Ultimate Six. Marko participates with the group in an attack on the White House. However, Iron Man stops them. After the battle, S.H.I.E.L.D. seals Marko in various jars and keeps them frozen.[53]

Artist Mark Bagley, who drew the first 100+ issues of Ultimate Spider-Man, noted in his rough designs for Ultimate Sandman that he would appear "Naked" most of the time. As he wanted to go with the more 'realistic' feel of the Ultimate imprint, he doubted whether Flint Marko's clothing had unstable molecules like his body.[citation needed]

Alongside the rest of the Ultimate Six, Sandman plays a role in the "Death of Spider-Man" storyline. Norman Osborn breaks him and the rest out of the Triskelion, and after their escape, informs them that God wishes for them to kill Peter Parker.[54] When Electro is shot by Aunt May, an electric surge knocks out Kraven, Sandman, and Vulture.[55]

In other media



Video games


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