The Sandman was introduced in Amazing Spider-Man #4. His malleable yet powerful body makes him one of the more distinctive members of Spider-Man's rogues' gallery. These abilities make him difficult to injure, let alone capture. How will our hero triumph? Read on.
The Goliath Diamond is on loan to a local art museum. Being the world's largest diamond, it requires advanced security measures. Spider-Man watches from a distance as the night watchmen test the security cameras and energy curtain (which dissolves anything upon contact). Satisfied that the diamond is safe, they leave the room.
Spider-Man wants to inspect the diamond up close. When he lands on the floor, he doesn't see a pile of sand moving toward the display case. The sand takes the form of a man and steps near the case, activating the opaque energy curtain and setting off the alarm. The guards arrive and assume Spider-Man is trying to steal the diamond. He leaves rather than trying to explain that he's innocent. That other someone inside the energy curtain is the Sandman, who now has the diamond.
At the Daily Bugle, Jameson is fielding questions about the Bugle's sponsorship of a charity fundraiser featuring the Goliath Diamond. He then receives a call notifying him that Spider-Man is wanted for the theft of the diamond. Jonah is livid and demands that the authorities be brought out in full force to capture Spider-Man.
Spider-Man swings back to the Daily Bugle, barely avoiding the dragnet set out for him. He decides to change to Peter Parker and check in with Jonah to see what's happened. Inside he learns that the thief has sent a hand-written ransom note. He demands one million dollars for the return of the diamond. The exchange is to occur at 10:30 at Orchard Beach. The note is signed with an “S”. [The Sandman's cursive writing is quite impressive given his common thug reputation. He did forget to capitalize the first letter of his ransom note. 5 point off for that, William Baker]
10:30 PM, Orchard Beach. Spider-Man has selected his observation point at Oscar's Restaurant [Yes, friends, Oscar's restaurant, since 1953. Great beach food at great beach prices. Three locations: Orchard Beach (the original and still best), Belmar Beach, and coming up in 1969 – our Atlantic City branch.]
He notices a large bag – about the size of the Goliath Diamond – placed in the sand between Oscar's and the ocean. He smells a trap and tries to snag it with his webbing. When tries to retrieve it, the object will not budge and the webbing snaps [The inconsistent strength of his webbing bothers me too, but just go with it.] With no choice, he goes to investigate personally and finds that the Sandman was holding on to the bag. They begin to fight, but it is interrupted by the approaching police. Sandman merges with the beach to hide leaving Spider-Man with the bag and the blame [Hey, neat Stan Lee style title "The Bag … And The Blame!"]
Jameson arrives with the police to deliver the briefcase containing the ransom money. Upon seeing Spider-Man, Jameson begins ranting, demanding his arrest. Both Jameson and the police are so focused on Spider-Man they fail to notice that the Sandman has stolen the briefcase. Spider-Man then escapes the police, promising to catch the Sandman. Jameson and the police discover they've been tricked; the bag contained a rock, not the diamond.
Elsewhere the Sandman is also the victim of deception. Jonah filled the briefcase with shredded paper. Sandman muses that "Jameson's a bigger swindler than I am". His next ransom note instructs him to meet at the rock quarry with two million dollars. Instead of going himself, Jonah sends Peter.
Peter changes to Spider-Man and arrives at the proper time with the ransom. He coats the bottom of the briefcase with his webbing and places it securely on a flat surface and then hides. The Sandman emerges from the sand with the diamond in hand [Unprotected, I might add]. He grabs the briefcase and tries to leave, but the webbing holds [This time. Where was this a few minutes ago?] He quickly discovers Spider-Man's involvement and attacks him.
After the preliminaries, Spider-Man is at a distinct disadvantage. So he decides to use a bulldozer against the Sandman. The Sandman counters by destroying the bulldozer and rendering Spider-Man unconscious. Wanting to play rock quarry worker too, the Sandman hops into a steam shovel, gathers large rocks, and prepares to crush his enemy. Spider-Man begins to regain consciousness at this time. This is no doubt assisted by his spider-sense warning him of the impending rock slide. He quickly creates a web-shield and deflects the rocks. When the Sandman changes to the wrecker, Spider-Man forms a slingshot out of his webbing that redirects the wrecking ball back to him. The impact sends him flying out of the machine, landing in a water trough. He is caught off-guard and blurts out that water is his only weakness [Lame, but then again he was trapped in a vacuum cleaner before]. Spider-Man then turns the hose on him until the police arrive.
The diamond is returned to the Daily Bugle [Completely unscratched. Not sure how that happened, given all the activity.] Peter tells the reporters the full story he "witnessed" emphasizing Spider-Man as much as possible to annoy Jonah. Eventually Jonah can't take any more and asks Peter if he took any pictures of this event. An embarrassed Peter admits that he doesn't have any pictures.
Personally I dislike it when the hero and villain is shown using construction equipment properly to fight each other. I'm accustomed to having the hero involved in a standard fight that is a combination of brawn and brains.
I would rather have them throwing the equipment at each other than use it properly. This way is boring. Since Spider-Man strength varies from episode to episode, just give him a boost for this one and let him chuck a dump truck at Sandman.
2.5 webs. This episode started out reasonable but got ludicrous at the very end. Spider-Man's ability to create large objects out of his webbing is implausible, but it seems to be a recurring theme. I think my biggest complaint about it is the inconsistent strength.
I am torn on whether or not to accept water as the Sandman's weakness. I re-state that he was trapped inside a vacuum cleaner at one point. That almost validates the decision to use water as his downfall.