2008-01-18 - THE DAZZLER SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT by Adam P. Knave: Part 1 -- So Bright This Star
DSA - The DAZZLER Service Announcement
Part One: So Bright This Star
Welcome, welcome, welcome! So we're going to take a long hard look at Dazzler here. And some of you might wonder why in the world anyone would want to poke and prod at Dazzler with a fine -toothed, Stan Lee-shaped comb. You'd be right to ask. I'd be wrong to answer. But I will!
The column is the answer. Well, part of it. The rest of it is simply: love. I love Dazzler, I always have. It is such a corny, goofy, whimsical and strange book that I am drawn to it, and have been since I was a kid.
Just bear in mind that is it corny and goofy and so on. Because wow, is it. So the idea here is simple. I'm going to poke at each issue of Dazzler in turn (1-21 for now, assuming I'm allowed to get that far) and we'll see what we end up with. Outside of rug burns and a questionable taste in our mouths. Well, and love in our hearts. We'll have that, always.
DAZZLER #1 (written by Tom DeFalco and drawn by John Romita, Jr.) hit in 1981, after the character was introduced across two issues of Claremont's UNCANNY X-MEN and a shot over in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN, written by Marv Wolfman.
Keep in mind that date. 1981. It will be important soon enough.
The book starts off with a splash page of Dazzler, sans eye makeup, running down an alleyway. Already the book makes me question myself. We're told two things right up front:
Thing the first - a limo (described as "sleek," drawn as a four-door Caddy) screeches to a halt and a bunch of thugs run out of it.
Thing the second - Dazzler has been pursued by these guys since "she left the disco."
Wait, what? So she left the disco and these goons jumped in a car and drove after her? She's on foot, not even be-skated (Dazzler had magnetic skates that attached to her shoes. No, really.) and they have been chasing her in a car and are just now catching up? I grew up in New York -- traffic isn't that bad, guys. I swear.
Anyway, Dazzler blinds them. Uhm, yeah. That should not be a shock to you. That's what she does. Dazzler is a mutant who can convert sound to light. Over the years that will get more and more interesting. Mostly after her book is cancelled. At the start though? She has a small FM transistor radio and tends to turn it on to power up. We're actually told that, this time out, the radio plays some Pink Floyd.
I dunno why that made me laugh. Just the thought of Floyd powering up Dazzler. Maybe it's because I can see Roger Waters doing a Disco Duet with Dazzler and I crack up. Maybe because Scissor Sisters' cover of "Comfortably Numb" is on right now and it happens to be a disco version of a Floyd song. I don't know!
Um, regardless. Dazzler blinds these guys. "Dazzling" them, get it? And then Spider-Man comes down and does mop-up. Dazzler wanders away depressed though. BUT WHY?
Because she has no money, no singing gigs and no friends. Welcome to the Mighty Marvel Method! This was how you made people care. You make them sad sacks clawing their way up to the top. I'm not saying it doesn't work, all right? I'm just saying I expect Aunt May to come by with some disco wheat cakes.
And then we have to wonder about disco, don't we? I mean in the '80s in New York, disco was dead. We often see clubs with punks and badly drawn Marvel ideas of punkers at that, but they're all grooving to disco. I do not know what drugs they have in the Marvel Universe (MGH, I guess) but I want some.
Anyway Dazzler (Allison Blaire for those that care, which means you because I know you care -- right?) calls the X-Men because she's lonely. Then she indulges in a flashback.
Have you ever done that? I don't think I have. I've never sat down and gone "Wow, this is harder than it used to be, you know back when..." and replayed whole incidents from my youth. I feel like I'm missing out. Maybe after this I'll go have myself a flashback. To writing this column. It'll be short term, because my budget doesn't include Romita, Jr., see.
During the flashback we encounter the first time Dazzler sung in public and her powers. She sang at a school dance thing and some thugs (again with the random thugs!) busted into the school and...
They did what? Never mind. They just did.
So Dazzler blinded them. Think about that. In a gym full of all of her peers she blinded everyone. Everyone chalks it up to an electrical mishap, and gee how lucky, but we see the thugs in an ambulance with bandages over their eyes.
OH MY LORD! Dazzler literally blinded everyone in her school, didn't she? Kinda makes the whole "Uncle Ben got ganked 'cause of me" shtick seem like weak sauce, doesn't it? There's an entire graduating class somewhere out there: blinded. Except for one person. HOW LUCKY!
And then we cut to Asgard. That's how Dazzler operates. You just cut to random things sometimes. You hold on tight and hope to hell it adds up later. It generally, kinda does, in strange ways. So when we cut to Asgard, home of the Norse Gods, like Thor, I ask that you just hold your head and squirm in your seat and ride this one out.
It seems the Enchantress has found that a mystic portal will open up soon, and if she can get there she will master untold power.
So we cut again. This time we see the Beast bounding around and making trouble as he races to a phone! It's an emergency! Why? Um, he saw a possible gig in the paper for Dazzler. Yeah.
And then we cut to audition time. Dazzler and Enchantress are auditioning for the same gig. Yes, you read that right.
Dazzler. And. The Enchantress. Auditioning. Same gig.
At which point all I can do is quote the book:
ENCHANTRESS: Speak thy choice, mortal!
STEVIE WILDFIRE (club owner): Enchanty, you are the finest specimen of womanhood I've ever laid eyes upon. You can have my car, my house, me even... But Dazzler, your voice makes it all happen. You get the gig.
DAZZLER: Far out!
ENCHANTRESS: Never have I been so humiliated! Unthinking, unspeakable swine! Choose another over me? Over me?
STEVIE WILDFIRE: Gosh! Lookit what she's doing to my wall... just by pointing at it!
All right, Stevie, can I call you Stevie? Thanks. Look, when someone named The Enchantress blows up part of your building by pointing a hand at it (and she does blow up a huge hole in the wall) you don't just say "Gosh!" you say "What the hell is the Avengers' number?"
The Enchantress, of course, swears vengeance. Which is why Issue #2 is twice as funny and bizarre as this one. For seriously.
NOTABLE ODDNESS: Dazzler's outfit -- a silver jumpsuit, disco ball necklace and mirrored shoes, purse and radio -- is all here but only at the end of the audition scene do we see her trademark "Don't Sue Me KISS" face paint. It was the first hint that Dazzler slacked off a lot when it came to presentation. No, no, I kid.
DAZZLER LOVE LIFE WATCH: None to speak of.
DAZZLER CAREER WATCH: She landed a gig!
Adam P. Knave writes fiction, as well as other things and can be found at hellblazer.net should you actually want to find him.