Wednesday, June 10, 2020

When Calls Galactus, Cancel Your Engagements

Whatever your thoughts on the mutant performer known as Dazzler, you probably would never have considered the possibility that she might one day be sought after by...

Yes, I can guess what you're taking away from this scene:

  • Galactus is going after Dazzler, yet he's not going to be interested at all in consuming a smorgasbord like the Earth while he's there? No wonder he brags about "The will(power) of Galactus..."
  • Galactus occasionally indulges in "reviewing" a pin-up file of Earth females? The big perv...

The main takeaway of course being: Why Dazzler? Only Dazzler can help him with his dilemma? This is sounding more strange by the moment.

The true answer, however, is likely rooted in sales. Ten issues into her 1981 series, and Dazzler is running through guest-stars like a super-human version of Jimmy Fallon, and none of her guests are lightweights:

Ah, the '80s. Remember when Galactus's origin used to be pretty simple, before a revisionist or two got hold of it? This is all you really had to know:

So again, unless Dazzler's real parents are Celestials, why is she the one person in the universe (in the universe, mind you) that a being such as Galactus cannot accomplish by virtue of his own power and might? In a story plotted by Tom DeFalco and scripted by Danny Fingeroth, the answer lies with his most recent herald, Terrax the Tamer, who betrayed his master by abandoning him in favor of seeking out a world to conquer and rule, just as he did when he was Tyros the Terrible (or Tyros the Tamer, depending on which of his former cowed minions you're asking). Yet when Galactus communicated with him and ordered his return to face retribution, Terrax fled into a black hole--an environment Galactus hesitated to enter, out of concern that "the introduction of so energy-intensive a being as himself into the black hole would destroy it, and Terrax with it." Instead, Dazzler was chosen for the task because of her ability to radiate luminescent energy, allowing her to navigate the hole without causing it to self-destruct.  (Human beacon or not, I don't see an Earth vocalist being physically or mentally prepared for the extraordinary properties and effects one would encounter in the interior of a black hole, do you?)

His choice made, Galactus doesn't believe in wasting any time. After enhancing Dazzler's own natural power, he prepares her for the environment she'll be entering, and without further delay launches her toward her destination--though Galactus is not particularly concerned with this mission's outcome, or even the one risking her life to carry out his instructions.

As for Terrax, he proves to be formidable, even while using a good deal of his power to stave off the effects of the black hole. And as Galactus's drone monitors the battle, in time he has no choice but to deliver dire news to his master and solicit his intervention--neither of which holds any interest for a being whose concerns are presently on other matters.

And so Galactus prepares to bail on Dazzler, without a backward glance (or, it seems, even the thought of a backward glance)--leaving Dazzler unknowingly on her own to face her fate. To make matters worse, it turns out that Terrax wasn't really serious about not being swayed by Dazzler's physical appearance:

And we thought a black hole was the absolute worst fate this young woman could suffer.

But Dazzler nevertheless has one ally on Galactus's ship: Drone R-11, who covertly channels a beam of energy to Dazzler's location which super-charges her power and provides her with a second chance. And with the beam maintaining its contact with her, the battle is hers to lose--but this time, that dubious honor goes to Terrax.

Yet what of Galactus? Or, rather, what of Drone R-11, who must now answer to his master for his actions? Curiously, we discover that Galactus has not been as impassive in regard to this matter as we were led to believe.

Finally, however, it's time for Terrax to face the music--and you're never going to believe who intercedes on his behalf. (Hint: It's not Drone R-11. By the way, does Drone R-11 look like a cross between Iron Man and the Guardsman to you?)

Dazzler has arguably made a fair point regarding Galactus and Terrax, mostly based on what Galactus has always maintained about himself: "Galactus does what Galactus must" (or words to that effect). Dazzler splits a few hairs by applying the same logic to Terrax, who has always had a choice as to whether to continue to indulge his thirst for conquest and subjugation; yet when he next confronts Galactus, he'll find his master has finally had it up to here with his rebellious nature.

Fingeroth comes up with a different way this story could have ended.
(And does this singer have big skates... er, shoes to fill!)


dbutler16 said...

I'm glad Galactus has some earthlings to show him the error of his ways. :-)

That What if? story might be fun.

dbutler16 said...

Oh, and to answer the Dazzler's question, I think ruling a planet is better (i.e., less heinous) than eating them.

Anonymous said...

I would have thought it easier for Galactus to just make the Dazzler his new herald than send her into a black hole after Terrax. Especially as she'd probably be better at the job, announcing his arrival to a glittering disco beat.

Looking forward to that What If post to see how it might have worked out, Comicsfan.


Big Murr said...

For all his mega-bluster, Galactus has a wider sentimental streak than he'll ever admit to.

In this case, the drone. He considers mere humans to be fruit flies. A robot he created? He's having moral debates with the equivalent of a spoon. Even that's too much status. An irritated thought by Galactus. A puff of sparks where R-11 stood. Warm up R-12.

And only John Byrne properly touched on the actual reality of Galactus in...what was the title? "The Last Galactus Story" or something like that? We saw Galactus actually moving on to other parts of the universe instead of loitering in the Milky Way. When he returned to Earth and was mildly put out that a couple of geological ages had passed without him noticing, THEN he came across as a true eternal force of the cosmos. (the rest of the story was pretty forgettable)

Tiboldt said...

So Galactus has had a surfer as a herald and now a roller-skater. Surely the next avenue to look down would be Rocket Racer - Herald of Galactus.

Comicsfan said...

sean and Tiboldt, you never fail to crack me up, my friends! (But y'know, I think the Rocket Racer would actually take the gig. If he thinks racing up buildings is something...)

dbutler, I think what Dazzler may have been implying is that Terrax's rule would first involve conquering those worlds and subjugating the populace--for starters. True, they would still have their lives--but I doubt spending them as slaves to a despot would exactly elicit gratitude toward Terrax for sparing them from Galactus.

Murray, I'll have to look up that story sometime--you would certainly think Galactus would have sent at least a few probes to other galaxies, as often as he seems to come up empty in our own. (And after all, he struck paydirt in the Skrull galaxy--heaven knows that should have been incentive for him to stick around.)

Colin Jones said...

Galactus's greatest herald was, of course, Aunt May.

I owned both this issue of Dazzler and the What If? follow-up but I don't remember either of them so I'm looking forward to the next instalment :)

dbutler16 said...

Comicsfan, yeah, I got that, but I still say that's hyperbole by Dazzler. Better to be ruled by a tyrant than to have you planet destroyed, methinks.

Comicsfan said...

Ha ha, yes, Colin, during Assistant Editors Month--the inmates indeed ruled the asylum then, eh?