Saturday, April 12, 2014

Sandman Mystery Theatre #15 (June 1994)

Sandman Mystery Theatre #15: "The Vamp" Act Three
Written by Matt Wagner & Steven T. Seagle
Art by Guy Davis
Colors by David Hornung
Letters by John Costanza
Edited by Shelly Roeberg and Karen Berger
Cover by Gavin Wilson

Curtain up.

The third part of "The Vamp" opens with Dian Belmont waking up and coming down to breakfast served by her father's maid.  Again Dian is confronted by an overwhelming feeling of indirection and misplaced talents.  She hates watching the world pass by without her involvement.  She craves action.

As she's longing for something to pique her interest, her father, the district attorney, is called away to investigate the murder.  And the victim is another young, former frat boy with a club connection to the previous victims.

Dian calls her college friend, Carol, who doesn't answer the phone because she's out meeting her friend, Madeline Giles.  Maddy, though, isn't alone; she's hosting a whole group of her old sorority sisters, all friends of Carol's.

Maddy isn't only sleeping with Carol, but with Sally and the rest of the women in their group.  And they're buying some property upstate to separate from men's rules and society.  Amazons, perhaps?

Across town, Lieutenant Burke visits the Delta Phi boys at their club to ask them once again what they know about the murders of their brothers.  Burke gets little cooperation from the snobbish pricks.  One of the boys, Barry, starts to cooperate with the questions, but the other brothers cut him off.  They throw their money and society status around until Burke gets annoyed and storms out.

Once Burke leaves, the brothers start fighting with each other.  Barry posits the question that the murders may have something to do with an event he calls "Hell Night".

Dian stops Carol in front of her apartment.  Carol, expecting or dreading Maddy, is flustered by Dian's sudden appearance and the news she brings that one of her old college friends was murdered.  Carol gets in the elevator, leaving Dian with a lot of questions and suspicions about what her friend may be hiding.

Amateur sleuth Dian goes to the Congo Club to see Sally Starr, the manager and one of Carol's sorority sisters.  Dian asks about the both the club and the sorority's connection to the Delta Phi boys who have been getting bumped off.  When her questions start hitting a little too close for comfort, Sally makes an excuse to leave.

Dian leaves, not noticing Lt. Burke sitting at the bar.  Acting on information he got from the bartender last time, Burke is staking out the bar looking for the "Vamp".  He doesn't wait long before a familiar blonde comes around, and it doesn't take much more than a hello before she's dragging him outside.

The Vamp feels him up in the alley, and then Burke pull out his badge.  Naturally, she's not going down that easily.

So the Vamp isn't a natural blonde?  Hmm...

Meanwhile, Dian goes to Wesley Dodd's house to tell him what she knows and what she suspects about the murders.  He tells her to be cautious and give the information to her father, but also shows real encouragement and understanding of her desire to get involved.  This understanding is enough of a turn-on that Dian throws herself right at Wesley.

Surprisingly, Wesley resists her, making up lame excuses they shouldn't go to bed this night and then he brushes her out of his house.  Immediately, Wesley slips off into the secret lair of the Sandman, but Dian comes back only  a few minutes later to retrieve the purse she forgot.  Wesley's butler answers the door and tells her Wesley isn't at home.

Dian knows Wesley was just there and then left the house as soon as she went away.  She's more confused and frustrated with the man than ever before, and wonders if he blew her off to go be with someone else, someone like Maddy Giles.

The next day, Dian Belmont, Lady Detective, starts to tail Carol herself.  She follows her friend around the city, shopping at stores, dyeing her hair blonde, getting lunch.  Dian gets a taxi to follow Carol to the Lower East Side, a neighborhood she wouldn't imagine Carol ever being caught dead in. But Carol goes to an apartment building, knocks on a door, and goes inside.  Dian can't see who her friend went inside to meet, so she starts climbing around the outside of the apartment.

Whatever Dian sees inside the room is quite shocking, but we'll have to wait until next issue to find out what.

Meanwhile, Lieutenant Burke goes back to the office where his boss tells him that one of the Delta Phi brothers slipped the police surveillance that was following him.

The man in question is Barry Smithers, the same guy who wanted to tell Burke about Hell Night.  Barry has hidden himself away at a cabin upstate.  He's started a fire to fight the cold while he waits for a visitor, but he's not expecting the Sandman.

The Sandman asks about Hell Night, but Barry doesn't want to answer now.

Are there no natural blondes in this story?  The Vamp wears a wig and Carol colors her hair.  It was already pretty obvious that there was something dark and shifty about Madeline Giles.  Should we suspect her now, knowing that the Vamp isn't a real blonde?

What is Hell Night?  What did the Delta Phi brothers do that they believe was "tradition" that some of them are now paying the ultimate price for?  Did they victimize one of the women in their sister sorority, who now stalks them and punishes them mercilessly for the crime committed years ago?

Lastly, what did Dian see through that window and how will it change her life?  She may not have a badge, but she is a detective?  Her character is a bit of an adrenaline junky.  She lives for the excitement, the thrill of danger that comes with tracking killers and maniacs.  And every case she involves herself on brings her closer to the identity of the Sandman.  How long will it take before she learns the truth about the man she loves?

Come back next week for the fourth and final act of "The Vamp"...


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