Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Where Auditions The Dazzler!

Following her 1980 introduction in the pages of Uncanny X-Men, and her guest-appearance two months later in Fantastic Four, the character known as Dazzler was rewarded with her own series a year later. It's a series I passed on, feeling a little underwhelmed at a character whose super-power boiled down to a light show that stunned those she fought, the effect's severity depending on the level of sound that was available to her to fuel her power. It also didn't bode well that her premiere issue was brimming with guest-appearances by Marvel heavy-hitters that covered all the bases for those, like myself, who might have thumbed through the issue at the store to make a quick assessment of its content.  (In this case, the enticements included Spider-Man, the X-Men, and the Avengers, with a little Asgard thrown in.)

During the 42-issue run of the book, the list of guest-stars would be expanded to include even more familiar faces considered to be draws for readers, such as Dr. Doom, the Hulk, the She-Hulk, Spider-Woman, Power Man and Iron Fist, and more of the X-Men, as well as the biggest gun available, Galactus. I doubt Thanos and Eternity would have been far behind.

Nor did Alison Blaire, who hoped to catch her big break as the Dazzler, seem like anyone a reader would feel like investing time in, with writer Tom DeFalco doing a virtual hail Mary and cramming the sum total of her characterization into just a few panels of brooding, making it clear she was facing an uphill struggle.

As for her power, it apparently takes Spider-Man's opinion to make it seem more interesting than it is.

Then there's the first issue's villain--the Enchantress, whose appearance definitely lends this nascent book some credibility, even if it seems laughable that the source of power that she covets will manifest in a mortal discotheque.

The circumstances that have the Dazzler and the Enchantress crossing culminate in what amounts to this premiere issue's main dramatic scene--open auditions at the club managed by Stevie Wildfire. And guess who his two choices for headliner come down to?

(Admit it:  You're more than just a little curious to hear the Enchantress's singing voice--not to mention the song she chose to audition with. Maybe Annie Lennox's "I Put A Spell On You"? Or Heart's "Magic Man"? Or maybe a more up-tempo, cutting-edge arrangement of "Devil Woman."  Take your pick!)

Finally, the choice is made--and the Enchantress is not happy.

This *cough* power-packed story, filled with potential *cough*, ends with the Enchantress throwing a tantrum swearing vengeance because she didn't get a singing gig, a reaction which may have made her a laughing stock not only with the Asgardians but with mortal comics readers.

Good lord, I can only imagine how many of you were camping out at the comics store for the next issue after a spine-tingling cliffhanger like that.

Johnny Storm checks out the "Disco Dazzler"!


George Chambers said...

I've heard it said that one way to know when a trend is dead and buried is when Marvel makes a comic out of it. As I remember, calling her the Disco Dazzler didn't last all that long - but wasn't Alison's disco ball necklace adorable?

Anonymous said...

I was a regular reader of Dazzler for about the first 20 issues or so, including #1. But after all these years I still can't decide if I like the cover of #1 - it looked quite unusual at the time!

Comicsfan said...

There were a number of those painted covers, Colin, many appearing in the book's third year of publication and rendered by Bill Sienkiewicz (who also did similar work for New Mutants). His work is well worth a post of its own here one day.

Jared said...

I am an X-Men fanatic. I’ve read every issue of Uncanny at least once and most spinoffs. But I have never read an issue of Dazzler. I didn’t realize DeFalco wrote it. I’m not sure if he would make me more or less likely to enjoy it (he wrote some good stories but his misses generally are horrible). The idea of a Dazzler comic doesn’t really feel like it fits in the Jim Shooter Marvel era.

Comicsfan said...

For me, Jared, the character of Dazzler herself was something of a misfire, needing a hard sell right out of the gate. Her stage name perhaps sums up the situation: Here is a character who "dazzles." Does that sound very interesting? How is a reader convinced to buy a comic where the principal character's power is to dazzle?

On a more positive note, you might want to check out DeFalco's run on Mighty Thor, a book and world which finally seemed to be a good fit for his style.

Jared said...

I always questioned the creation of Jubilee at a time when Dazzler was actually a regular member of the X-men. I always thought they had pretty similar powers that didn't add much to the power of the team.

On the plus side, she is one of the very few mutant characters who the last few years have been good to. I thought Greg Pak and Brian Michael Bendis wrote her very well and did more for her than the first 30 years did.

Iain said...

I liked how Alison evouled through her own book and the Xmen when she became a member after her book died off, I felt she was becoming a stronger personality and liked the play off between her and Rouge and Wolverine. I was a sap and bought her comic often I enjoy a good female hero when i get the chance and Ms Marvel and Spider Woman had died off too.

By the way the first panel where Spider man has the villains suspended from a lamppost always makes me wonder, that webbing dissolves in an hour right? What if the cops are real busy and cant get there before they fall? ^^

Miles Johnson said...

Dazzler, to me, is like Peter Parker. The comic was as much about Alison's dating, family, and work life as it was about battling villains. Her reluctancy to be a superhero gave the book a fresh take on the genre. She didn't burst into action, she fought because she was fed up and frustrated.

The book was maybe too campy and a little pervy in their depiction of Alison. I think it would have benefitted from a female creative team. But it's worth a read, for the soap opera alone.

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