Retro Review: Dazzler #1-30 By DeFalco, Fingeroth, Romita Jr., Springer & Others For Marvel Comics

Dazzler #1-30 (March 1981-January 1984)

Written by Tom DeFalco (#1-5), Danny Fingeroth (#8-24, 26), Steven Grant (#25), Frank Springer (#27-), Jim Shooter (#29), Ken McDonald (#30)

Story by Tom DeFalco (#6-7)

Idea by Tom DeFalco (#8-11)

Script by Danny Fingeroth (#6-7)

Pencils by John Romita Jr. (#1-3), Alan Kupperberg (#3), Frank Springer (#4-24, 26-30), Marc Bright (#25)

Inks by Alfredo Alcala (#1-2), Danny Bulandi (#3-4, 25), Armando Gil (#3-4, 6-7), Ricardo Villamonte (#5), Quickdraw Studios (#6), Frank McLaughlin (#7), Vince Colletta (#8-24, 26-30)

Coloured by Glynis Wein (#1), Ken Klaczak (#2), Bob Sharen (#3), Roger Slifer (#4), Don Warfield (#5-8, 10-24), Christie Scheele (#9, 25), Ken Feduniewicz (#25), Andy Yanchus (#26-30)

Spoilers (from thirty-four to thirty-seven years ago)

Can you think of a less likely way to create an enduring and beloved comics character than by having a record label commission a character who is supposed to be representative of the then-current craze around disco music?  Jim Shooter’s Marvel was happy to get involved, and so we got a pop singer with mutant abilities, who rolled around everywhere on roller skates. And yet, almost forty years later, Alison Blaire is featured prominently in Astonishing X-Men, and is a favourite for many.

I’ve read some of these comics, and started filling in my collection recently because of the terrific Bill Sienkiewicz covers that start popping up later in the run.  I don’t really remember much about this comic, but am curious to see if any of it is any good. Let’s find out together…

Let’s look at who turned up in the title:

Villains

  • The Enchantress (#1-2, 16)
  • Doctor Doom (#3-4)
  • Nightmare (#4)
  • Bo Barrigan (gangster; #5)
  • Montana (Enforcer; #7-8)
  • Ox (Enforcer; #7-8)
  • Fancy Dan (Enforcer; #7-8)
  • Techmaster (#8, 12)
  • Klaw (#9)
  • Galactus (#10-11)
  • Terrax the Tamer (#10-11)
  • Poundcakes (Grapplers; #13)
  • Titania (Grapplers; #13)
  • Letha (Grapplers; #13)
  • Screaming Mimi (Grapplers; #13)
  • Doctor Octopus (#17)
  • The Absorbing Man (#17-19)
  • Doctor Sax (#20)
  • Johnny Guitar (#20)
  • Rogue (#22-24, 28)
  • Destiny (#22-23, 28)
  • Mystique (#22-23, 28)
  • Flame (#23)
  • The Mutant Hunters (#26)

Guest Stars

  • Spider-Man (#1-2, 21)
  • Storm (#1-2)
  • Wolverine (#1-2)
  • Colossus (#1-2)
  • Nightcrawler (#1-2)
  • Sprite (Kitty Pryde; #1-2)
  • The Beast (#1-2, 5, 21)
  • Edwin Jarvis (#1, 19)
  • The Wasp (#1-2, 21)
  • Iron Man (#1-2, 21)
  • Captain America (#1-2, 21)
  • Hawkeye (#1-2, 21)
  • The Thing (#2-4, 18, 21)
  • The Human Torch (#2-5, 9, 18, 21)
  • The Angel (#2, 17-24, 27-28)
  • Charles Xavier (#2)
  • Mister Fantastic (#3-4, 18, 21)
  • Invisible Girl (#3-4, 18, 21)
  • The Blue Shield (#5, 14)
  • The Hulk (#6-7)
  • Quasar (#9-10, 13, 21)
  • She-Hulk (#14, 21)
  • Spider-Woman (#15)
  • Heimdall (#16)
  • Odin (#16)
  • Hogun (#16)
  • Fandral (#16)
  • Volstagg (#16)
  • Medusa (#19)
  • Black Bolt (#19)
  • Lockjaw (#19)
  • Thor (#21)
  • Daredevil (#21)
  • Misty Knight (#21)
  • Iron Fist (#21, 23-24)
  • Power Man (#21, 23-24)
  • Wonder Man (#21)
  • Henry Peter Gyrich (#26)
  • Ralph Macchio (Marvel editor; #30)
  • Bob Harras (Marvel assistant editor; #30)
  • Ann Nocenti (Marvel assistant editor; #30)

Supporting Characters

  • Judge Carter Blaire (Alison’s father; #1, 3-4, 10-11, 13, 17-22, 25)
  • Grandma Bella (Alison’s grandmother; #1, 3-4, 9-10, 13, 17-21)
  • Harry Osgoode (Alison’s manager; #2-6, 8-14, 17-18, 20-23, 25-26, 30)
  • Cassandra Ferlenghetti (Harry’s secretary; #2-3, 5-6, 8, 12-13, 21, 23, 25-26, 30)
  • Lancelot Steele (Alison’s stage manager; #3-8, 10-18, 21-23, 25-26, 30)
  • Dr. Paul Janson (#5-13)
  • Nurse Collins (#5, 7, 10-11)
  • Hunch (Dazzler’s bass player; #6-7, 10, 14-17, 20-22, 26)
  • Marx (Dazzler’s guitar player; #6-7, 10, 14-17, 20-22, 26)
  • Beefer (Dazzler’s drummer; #6-7, 10, 14-17, 20-23, 26)
  • Mr. Meeker (Project Pegasus; #6-9, 13)
  • Sid Sterling (booking agent; #12-13)
  • Ken Barnett (lawyer; #13, 15-24, 26, 28)
  • Bruce Harris (singer; #14-16)
  • Vanessa Tooks (singer, Ali’s friend; #17-21, 26)
  • Barbara London/Katherine Blaire (vocal coach; Ali’s mother; #19-23)
  • LB Holman (record producer; #22, 24)
  • Lois London (Ali’s half-sister; #22-24, 26-30)
  • Nick Brown (Lois’s father; #28, 30)
  • Roman Nekobah (big recording and movie star; #29-30)

Let’s take a look at what happened in these books, with some commentary as we go:

  • The first issue of this series does a lot of heavy lifting in terms of dumping information on us, and also establishing Alison in the Marvel Universe, which means a lot of guest stars, all of whom get some extended irrelevant scenes.  It’s almost like Tom DeFalco didn’t want to write about Alison, and tried to fill the book with proof that he should be writing the X-Men, the Avengers, or maybe even Thor. When the issue opens, Alison is running from some thugs who are trying to scare her.  She ends up in an alley that dead ends, so she tunes her radio to Pink Floyd and starts her light show, which attracts Spider-Man’s attention. One of the bad guys shoots her radio, so her lights fade (remember that she transmutes sound into light) and Spidey swoops in to stop the thugs (who have been sent by her current crooked manager to make her sign a terrible recording contract that offers no royalties).  Dazzler heads home, where she feels bad about her relative level of poverty, and how her father doesn’t support her career. She decides to call the X-Men on the telephone, and we get two pages of them training (and Kitty getting jealous when Peter thinks it’s a girl calling him) before Storm asks Alison if she’s ready to give up on her music and join the X-Men. This bothers Alison, so she turns on some music and remembers her childhood, when he dad wouldn’t let her do anything other than study.  When she finally got permission to go to a school dance with a talent show component, her powers began to manifest as she performed. A group of thugs decided to crash and then trash the dance, but Alison used her new powers to blind everyone, stopping their rampage. As she grew older, she learned to better control her abilities, and to excel in school, but after graduating from her undergrad, she angered her father by refusing to go to the law school he chose for her, instead wanting to pursue her music.  Now, after two years, she has nothing to show for this. In Asgard, an unnamed warrior fights his way past a couple of giants to gain an audience with the Enchantress, who turns him into a tree (why is this scene needed?) before going to look into a magic fountain and receive a vision of a disco club where something “cataclysmic” is likely to happen. At Avengers Mansion, the Beast finds something exciting in the newspaper, which causes him to almost run into and then get into an argument with the Wasp, which disrupts Iron Man and Captain America’s chores (none of this is essential).  Beast takes off, and shows up at Alison’s apartment (despite having never met her, he knows where she lives and who she is), where she is getting ready to visit friends in the country. Beast shows her an article about a disco that needs a new singer. This disco, Numero Uno, is run by a guy named Stevie Wildfire, who has had no luck in getting a new singer and is worried that he will lose a lot of money soon. The Enchantress arrives and enchants him. She sings, and he falls hard for her. Dazzler also turns up, in her outfit, and he lets her sing too. She does such a good job that he immediately hires her over the Enchantress, who gets really angry, blows a hole through the wall, and then threatens them before leaving.
  • Dazzler gets ready for her big debut at Numero Uno.  In the Baxter Building, the Thing and Human Torch get ready to go to the club.  At the Xavier School, the X-Men train some more before Kitty reminds them that they are going to the club too (despite the fact that Kitty is like 14 and probably couldn’t get in.  At Avengers Mansion, Captain America, Wasp, and Beast also get ready. In the club, there are a ton of people mingling, and no one finds it weird that one guest is made of rocks and that two others are covered in blue fur.  Dazzler begins her performance, on roller skates and to taped music while Enchantress watches through her fountain. She explains (to herself) that a mystical portal is set to open on the stage, with dread energies that should could have claimed, had she only won the audition.  She teleports backstage (which sets off Peter Parker’s spider-sense in the crowd), and uses a spell to begin aging Dazzler rapidly. She puts all of her energy into a full light blast aimed at a disco ball that reflects back on Enchantress, stunning her (because disco balls are good for focusing light in one particular place).  The heroes in the audience all begin to change into their costumes in the bathroom so they can rush to Dazzler’s aid, as Enchantress summons an army of demons and trolls and stuff to fight them. This fight goes on for a while, with each hero in the space getting a bit of the spotlight, while the Enchantress awaits the full opening of the portal.  The heroes are very unsuccessful at stopping her, and by the time Dazzler gets close enough to the evil goddess, an arm is beginning to emerge through the portal. Dazzler taps into her full powers, blasting the demon with everything she has, which pushes him back as the rift begins to close. Enchantress is angry and vows revenge, but leaves. The rest of the heroes congratulate Dazzler, but she feels bad because the club and her career got trashed.  An A&R guy crawls out from under a table and tells Dazzler to go visit Harry Osgood, a manager. On Monday morning, the Avengers fly Dazzler to the guy’s office (weirdly, all the heroes are there). The guy’s secretary isn’t going to let her meet with him, but then Beast distracts her and Dazzler slips through. The guy rejects her outright, until he sees eleven heroes standing at his windowsill, as the Thing breaks through the glass. Cap insists that they want to hear Dazzler sing, and when she does, the guy is so impressed he calls his lawyer so he can sign her.  This might be one of the dumbest scenes in Marvel history, but at the same time, maybe Wolverine really went through a disco phase.
  • Mister Fantastic tests the limits of Alison’s powers, and then she gets into a typical playful confrontation wherein she shows up Ben and Johnny.  As things wind down, Johnny sees that Doctor Doom’s former crown jewels (this is during a period where some guy named Zorba had deposed him) are going to be exhibited at the United Nations.  Johnny flirts with Alison. At the UN, the Latverian Ambassador, Dr. Arturo Frazen, makes plans to steal the jewels, and notices one in particular. Alison goes to meet with Harry, her manager.  He tells her that he got her a spot on the bill for a UNICEF benefit concert at the UN soon, and introduces her to Lancelot Steele, his field rep, who is very cocky. Alison is excited about the gig, but not when she finds out that it’s being done for free.  Alison decides to go home and visit her father and grandmother for the first time in two years, but when she says she still intends to become a singer, her father rejects her again. In some castle, an underling tells Doctor Doom that the Merlin Stone is on display at the UN.  On the day of the concert, which is some three weeks later, Frazen has goons dressed as Ziggy Stardust wannabes ready to help him steal the jewels, using the benefit for cover. Steele gives Alison a hard time for not being ready, and then notices the goons, who jump him. Alison hears him yell, and goes to investigate.  She fights the goons and saves Steele, but then thinks to go check on the jewels. Frazen gets to the exhibit room, to find that the guards are unconscious and someone else is there, who blasts him. Alison fights through some more goons before getting to the exhibit room, where she is immediately blasted too, by Doctor Doom.  Harry freaks out when he realizes that Dazzler’s nowhere to be found, and Johnny sits in the audience waiting for her to sing. Doom, recognizing Alison as a singer, is kind to her and explains about the power of the Merlin Stone and how he can use it to find more like it. Dazzler realizes she has to stop him, and begins to fight him.  She does better than expected but in the end he knocks her out, steals the Stone, and then kidnaps her, thinking she can retrieve the second one for him, which is in another dimension, and dangerous to reach.
  • Doom has taken Alison to one of his secret New York bases, and has her stuffed into a big test tube, guarded by robots.  He narrates a lot about what happened last issue, and tells her that he is going to send her into another dimension to retrieve the second Merlin Stone for him, which he does.  At the UN, Alison’s manager is upset that she can’t be found, and the Human Torch talks to the officials, and learns that Doctor Doom is involved. Alison’s grandmother learns that she’s disappeared, but worries more about her son, who is brooding alone about the fact that he isn’t all that shook up about her disappearance.  Dazzler finds herself in a weird dimension, where she is attacked by creatures. She is in trouble because she can’t pick up any music on her radio, and is soon engulfed by the creatures. Doom watches, and gives up on her. Alison taps into the ambient noise of the region to blast the creatures off of her, but it tires her to the point where she sleeps (which is probably not all that safe).  She wakes to taunting visions of her father, which she blasts away. She decides to look for the Merlin Stone, as her only chance of getting home. The Human Torch goes to the rest of the Fantastic Four with his concerns about Doom, and then takes off in a hurry to look for Dazzler. As Alison rollerskates through the weird dimension, she comes across a dark version of herself, who she fights.  Nightmare shows up, making it clear just what dimension she is in, and admits that he has the Merlin Stone. They fight, and since her light hurts him, he ends up giving her the Stone. Doom brings her back, and he takes the Stone from her, putting it with the other one. He is dismissive and arrogant towards her, and when Alison realizes that her radio is still playing and picking up music, she uses it to fire a laser beam that ricochets all over the room and then destroys the Merlin Stones.  She fights with him briefly, until he brings a ceiling down on her, which knocks her out. Just then he sees the Human Torch approaching, and decides he should flee. Johnny has been checking all of Doom’s known bases (why wouldn’t the FF destroy them if they know about them?), and is happy to find Dazzler there, although he’s worried that she is unconscious.
  • Dazzler dreams of her foes and her difficult relationship with her father, and then wakes up at the hospital, where Johnny Storm is watching over her.  The doctor decides to keep her overnight for observation, and the nurse gives her grief about her makeup. The doctor says goodbye to Johnny, and is surprised when he bursts into flame and flies off.  Nurse Collins is all kinds of judgemental about Alison’s singing career, and warns her to stay quiet as her roommate is very ill. Mrs. Cartelli, the old woman, is a bit delusional, wanting to tell “Joey” that she still loves him.  In a rough neighbourhood, some gangster types hang out and complain about having to give their boss, Bo Barrigan, a large share of their “numbers” take. They are attacked by the Blue Shield, a costumed guy with an aura that protects him from damage.  He wrecks the place and leaves with their money. The next morning, Alison talks with Dr. Janson, who clears her and then breaks patient confidentiality by telling her all about Mrs. Cartelli, whose husband was killed when he tried to help a man that was hit in a gang hit-and-run attempt.  The man, Bo Barrigan, tried to help the lady afterwards, but she refused. Later, her son, Joey, ended up going to work for him, and that’s why the doctor thinks Mrs. Cartelli is dying of a broken heart. Becoming even more inappropriate, he asks Alison out on a date, and she has him take a raincheck.  Alison heads to her manager’s office, where she learns that she has received good press from the debacle at the UN, and that has led to some bookings for her. Harry even gives her a cheque to cover her hospital bill ($277.83 for an overnight stay and tests!) and get some food. After rehearsals, Alison can’t shake Mrs. Cartelli from her mind, so she calls the Beast to get help tracking down Joey.  At the same time, Joey is in a meeting with Barrigan and his other cronies. Barrigan has acquired a one-man super tank to help stop the Blue Shield from interfering in his business. He has Joey stay behind, which works, as Joey is apparently the Blue Shield. Alison comes to speak to him, but he blows her off and leaves. At the hospital, we learn that Mrs. Cartelli is getting worse. Alison takes a cab to follow Joey, but loses him in the docks.  She finds a warehouse and spies the battle tank inside it (which she somehow knows about from the newspaper that is awkwardly mentioned). She is found by some goons, and is slapped by Barrigan, at which point she pulls out her radio and plays some Devo. She begins to fight the goons, putting on her roller skates as she does so, and as the Blue Shield turns out outside and gets into his costume. Together they fight the goons, allowing Barrigan the time to get into the tank.  He stuns the Blue Shield and sends him flying out the building; Alison tries to fight the tank, but with little success. She does burn out its video monitors with her light, but Barrigan chases her using heat sensors. She leads him off a pier, and the Shield, who feels love for the man that raised him, despite also wanting revenge on him, dives in to save him. Alison tells the hero that she was looking for Joey, to tell him his mother’s message of love. Later, the Blue Shield, wearing a disguise, goes to see Mrs. Cartelli, and she recognizes him as her son (why he couldn’t take off his mask and go as himself is unclear).  Alison sees them talking, and then runs into Dr. Janson, and drops hints that she’s hungry so he’ll take her for lunch. This upsets Nurse Collins, who is going to “have to take a hand in matters…” (although I doubt that involves taking him before an ethics board for dating a patient).
  • Starting with this issue, Tom DeFalco steps back to simply plotting each issue, with Danny Fingeroth providing scripts.  Alison is practicing with her band (Hunch, Marx, and Beefer, who is always thinking about food) with Lance giving them a hard time.  Harry arrives to tell Alison that he got her a gig at a college, but that the singer she is replacing was doing country and western, so she has to learn some new songs.  During the practice, Alison feels like someone is watching her from the recording booth. Later, we see she is followed on her way to the subway. On the platform, a trio of tough guys harass an old man and scare some tourists; Alison intervenes and almost gets cut up for it, until a train entering the station creates enough noise that she is able to use her powers.  The tourist dude gets upset that she is a mutant, and causes the commuters to chase her away. After taking a cab home, she finds Dr. Janson waiting outside her building (he’s looked up her address in her hospital records, which can’t possibly be allowed). She invites him up, but he has to leave due to an emergency on his pager. We see that someone is watching her apartment.  The next day, Alison and her band arrive at the college, as does Bruce Banner, who is there to access some scientific research in the hopes it will help him cure his Hulk curse. He almost gets a job as a janitor (so he can break into the building) but the fact that he doesn’t have a physical social security card makes it impossible for him to work there (and almost causes him to Hulk out).  As he leaves, he runs into Lance, who somehow heard Bruce’s conversation from outside the closed building, and he offers him $10 to work as a roadie. Lance is happy because he would have had to pay a student $20, and now he can keep 10 for himself. Dazzler begins her performance, in her usual outfit but now also a cowboy hat, while Bruce breaks into the science building. He, of course, gets noticed by security cameras, and when guards chase him, he turns into the Hulk and falls down an elevator shaft which links him to some underground tunnels that run through the campus.  The Hulk breaks through the stage Dazzler is performing on, causing panic. She tries to stop his rampage with her powers, but that makes him more angry (especially when she creates a hologram of a tank). After a few pages of fighting, the Hulk takes his rampage out onto the campus, and Dazzler goes after him to try to stop him, even though she doesn’t know how. She doesn’t notice that there is some guy watching her as she leaves the auditorium.
  • As college kids run all over the place, Dazzler’s band hides out, and Lancelot acts tough, until he gets too scared to go help Dazzler.  She follows the Hulk and tries to stop him from destroying a student lounge, but once again, that just makes him more angry. In New York, someone unseen hires the Enforcers (Ox, Montana, and Fancy Dan) to kill Harry Osgood, who he claims is a mass murderer.  Dazzler’s attempts to slow the Hulk down just keep making him more angry. Soldiers arrive to stop the behemoth, but they are ineffective (even the new grappler tank they have doesn’t do much). Hulk heads into the Hall of Science to hide out for a bit and Dazzler follows.  Hulk gets annoyed when a lab reminds him of Banner, and he starts smashing stuff until he sees some caged dogs (because of course universities do testing on cute puppies), and starts to free them. Dazzler observes him with the dogs and begins to change her mind about him. Some soldiers arrive, and Dazzler dazzles them as a way of protecting Hulk, who only now notices her (despite the fact that she has music blasting from her purse).  He wants to smash her again, and instead of fighting, Dazzler holds her ground and talks to him calmly. She further uses her light powers to help him relax, so he turns back to Banner (she knows all about this stuff, somehow), and she helps him to escape, observed by that same guy from the issue before. When the band loads up Dazzler’s equipment, they notice that a large coffin-sized trunk is heavier than they remember. The band stops at a diner on their way back to New York, and Banner sneaks out of the trunk where Alison hid him; he also finds $200 in his pocket – all the money she made for the gig.  Alison walks home from where Lance dropped her off, and is suspicious that she is being watched. When she gets in her apartment, she tries calling Paul, but Nurse Collins (who is also, apparently, his secretary), lies and says he’s in surgery because she wants him for herself. Alison goes to sleep. Out on the street, the guy who has been watching her feels that he needs to get in touch with her soon, as she will be useful to whatever his organization is.
  • Issue eight is the first one in the series to not feature another Marvel hero; I guess the powers that be finally decided Ali could headline her own book…  The issue opens with Harry and Lance watching Ali’s concert footage, and deciding that they need to talk to her. Ali is preparing, poorly, dinner for Paul when Harry calls and orders her to come to his office; Paul drives her and they are tailed by the little guy again.  As Paul leaves her there, Ali worries that she’s driven him off by being too busy, and that if their relationship doesn’t work out, it’s her fault (even though he’s heading to Vancouver for a week and is a busy doctor). When she gets into Harry’s office, he asks her about her light tricks, and instead of admitting she’s a mutant, she gets angry and storms off.  Later, Lance is watching another band rehearse when the Enforcers bust into the studio, looking for Harry, and start wrecking the place. Harry sees them, and when he hears them mention the Techmaster, he takes off. The Enforcers report back to Techmaster, who is enjoying making Harry suffer. Harry shows up at Ali’s place, and tells her about the Techmaster, who was a handsome sound technician that used to work for Harry.  They disagreed about using a lightning effect in a New Year’s Eve disco party held in an old warehouse, and Harry refused to let him proceed, seeing it as too risky. Techmaster did it anyway, killing some patrons, burning his own face, destroying his own hands, and burning the place down. Techmaster has always been convinced that Harry sabotaged his controls, and now wants revenge on Harry. Somehow, the Enforcers knew that Harry would be at Ali’s, so they show up, knock her around, and take him.  She has no luck with the police or in finding Lance, so she decides to head out to the former site of the warehouse, now a grocery store, to see if she can rescue Harry. She is caught right away, but turns on the store’s Muzak system so she can use her powers, and takes down the small army of goons there (why would Techmaster need so many goons?) before fighting the Enforcers. She takes down two of them, but isn’t sure how to stop the Ox, so she throws a can of peas through a window to set of the alarms, and then dazzles Ox using the loud alarm sounds.  Harry frees himself, and Techmaster arrives in time to see the cops and takes off. Later, Harry and Ali talk, and he agrees to keep her mutant status a secret, even from Lance. Later, as Ali walks home, she is approached by a guy in reflective glasses who wants her to meet the guy who has been following her around, who we learn is named Mr. Meeker.
  • Meeker and the other guy drive Ali through the city, while she feels all sorts of menaced, and then Meeker and she take a jet helicopter which flies into a hidden entrance in a mountain.  She’s been taken to Project Pegasus, where the government wants to test her powers. When she suggests she doesn’t want to do this, officials threaten to out her as a mutant. Then they introduce her to Quasar, who she responds to very favourably because of how attractive he is.  He gives her a tour of the Project’s different projects, and shows her that they also hold captive energy-based villains, including Klaw, who uses a computer screen to make her feel like she might become a prisoner. She is given many tests over a few days, which means that back home, Paul, Harry, her grandmother, and the Human Torch all wonder where she could be.  Thinking her tests are done, Ali wants to go home, but the Project people tell her there is more testing to do, especially since they can’t find the upper limit of her power, and have realized that she can store sound energy. She feels trapped, and decides to sneak out. It doesn’t work though, as Quasar stops her from leaving. The next day, she dresses in her performance outfit, makeup and all, to cheer herself up (this is weird).  Quasar convinces the Project that she doesn’t need to be guarded, and she explores the place for a while. She sees a test being done on Klaw, and becomes convinced that he’s in pain. She uses her powers to get the technicians to stop working on him, which provides him the opportunity to free himself. Klaw takes out the guards and Quasar. Dazzler tries to help, but finds that her powers have no effect on the sound-based being. When he tries to attack her, though, she is able to absorb his energy, eventually absorbing him completely.  Glowing and full of his energy, Ali is distraught at the thought of being a murderer. Her powers are much stronger – she blasts her way out of the Project and even flies a little. Somewhere deep in space, a robot watches all this happen on a viewscreen (no one ever explains just how that works), and says that she is the only person in the universe with the powers that its master needs. The next issue box suggests that the robot belongs to Galactus.
  • The robot, a drone, narrates Dazzler’s story to Galactus while explaining why she’s so perfect for some specific task that he needs done.  On Earth, Quasar leads some Project Pegasus guards to look for Dazzler, but as they find her, she is beamed into a massive spacecraft. Quasar is not able to reach her.  Dazzler finds herself inside Galactus’s ship, where the Drone explains that she is needed. They tour the ship and Dazzler tries to get Galactus’s attention, but he ignores her.  In New York, Harry worries that Ali has been kidnapped by Techmaster, as he has to cancel a big engagement for her. Paul returns from Vancouver, and also wonders where she could be, which upsets Nurse Collins.  At Ali’s dad’s place, Judge Blaire gets upset at his mother for having kept in touch with Ali, but also wonders what he should do about her disappearance. Galactus tells the Drone his history, focusing on his trouble with his heralds over the years.  He talks about choosing Terrax because he was evil, but then Terrax betrayed him by splitting off to rule his own planet. Fleeing Galactus, Terrax hid in a black hole, knowing that Galactus couldn’t follow him there without killing Terrax, which is not what he wants.  Therefore, he needs Ali, and her infinite ability to absorb sound and convert it into light, because she’ll be able to see in the hole, and because she has the spirit of a great hero. They power Ali up, and once she’s reached a certain level of cosmic brightness, Galactus deems her worth speaking ot.  She is attached to a tether and given some cosmic energy so she can breathe in space, and is sent into the hole. She finds Terrax almost immediately, and he severs her tether and moves to attack her.
  • Dazzler doesn’t have much luck fighting Terrax, and he is somehow able to communicate with her telepathically, although she can’t communicate back.  The Drone watches the fight, and is impressed with Dazzler, but Galactus writes her off as a failure and wants to leave. Dazzler keeps fighting, while Terrax decides he wants to take her with him to the dimension on the other side of the black hole.  A beam of pure sound is sent from Galactus’s vessel towards the black hole. On Earth, Harry, Lance, and the band all worry about Ali, as does Paul, while Nurse Collins hopes this means that Ali has found a new man. Even Judge Blaire, her father, is worried and makes a decision.  As they continue fighting, the beam of sound reaches Dazzler, and she uses it to power up and knock out Terrax. She is going to leave him in the black hole and leave, but realizes that puts her at risk of incurring Galactus’s anger, so she starts to drag him back along the sound beam.  Galactus discovers that his Drone has disobeyed him to help Ali, and the Drone points out that Galactus must care for her on some level. As Ali gets Terrax out of the black hole, they are beamed onto Galactus’s ship; Ali passes out. Judge Blaire drives towards Ali’s home, and Paul cancels his appointments to go to Ali’s place too.  So do Harry, Lance, and the band. The Drone revives Ali, as Galactus prepares to put Terrax on trial. Ali interrupts to defend Terrax. Galactus reinstates Terrax as his herald, and Ali is frustrated to see that Galactus is ignoring her. The sound beam hits again, and she uses it to get Galactus’s attention; he sends her home just as Terrax announces he’s found a suitable planet (in a nod to an issue of Rom, which I should really read for this column soon).  Harry, the band, Paul, and Judge Blaire all arrive at Ali’s building at the same time, and get the super to take them up to her apartment. She beams onto her couch, sound asleep, just as they enter. Harry, the only person who knows about her double life, tells everyone she’s just been partying, and the Judge gets very angry about her lifestyle choices. Paul is the last to leave, after planting a (non-consensual) kiss on the woman. As he leaves, Ali mumbles that she loves him.
  • Ali is happy to hang out at home, even though her refrigerator isn’t working, and is even happier to arrange a date with Paul.  Harry has hired bodyguards to watch over him, because of his fear of the Techmaster. He makes lunch plans with a business associate for the next day.  Ali comes to meet with Harry, who tells her off for disappearing and missing a gig; he gives her the business card of a friend, Sid Sterling, who arranges lower level bookings, for Ali to use until her reputation is improved.  Ali leaves angry, and Harry feels that he overreacted. He doesn’t know that the Techmaster has wired his office and is watching him. Techmaster impersonates Harry to cancel his lunch. Ali goes to visit Sid Sterling, and ends up singing at a burger franchise opening, but at least it’s money.  Ali goes out for dinner with Paul and an older couple he needs to impress to get a promotion. She tries to get them to go to a punk show, and somehow spills coffee all over the guy (even though everyone else is drinking wine). Paul whisks her away, and they go back to Ali’s apartment where they make out, and maybe do more.  He leaves afterwards, and starts to worry about how different they are, while Ali feels loved. The next morning she receives a call from Sid, but it’s really Techmaster. He has her come to a big factory he owns, where a chauffeur explains that they are building equipment that turns sound into light. Techmaster doesn’t know that Ali helped Harry before; instead he wants the secrets of her light show, and threatens her with his metal hands, before locking her in a soundproof room and leaving.  Techmaster goes to his lunch with Harry, where he scares off his bodyguard and then kidnaps the executive. Ali frees herself in time to see Techmaster arrive at the plant with Harry. He tries to kill him by throwing him into his laser array, but Ali stops him. Techmaster and Ali fight for a few pages, and she ends up knocking him over the same railing he wanted to toss Harry over. Harry ends up saving his old friend, causing Techmaster to promise to not bother him anymore. Harry and Ali talk, and she tells him off for being insensitive to her earlier.  She makes to leave, but decides she should be the one to also make amends, and the two leave as friends.
  • Ali is secretly visiting her grandmother, but is spending time going through a trunk of things that belonged to her mother, who she never knew.  She finds and takes a brooch. When her father comes home, she tries to sneak out without seeing him, but instead they awkwardly stare at each other and then Judge Blaire walks off; Grandma Bella wishes she could tell Ali about her mother, but her son has forbidden it.  At Harry’s, Lance stands on the very top of a ladder, holding onto a potted fern that is hanging from the dead centre of the ceiling while Cassandra trades quips with him. It’s weird. Cassandra is rude to Ali, and Harry doesn’t have work for her. She goes to see Sid Sterling, and gets sent out as a singing telegram.  Later, she meets Paul for dinner at a fancy restaurant, where he breaks up with her. She decides to cause a scene and storms out. When she gets home, she finds a pair of federal marshals waiting to arrest her for the murder of Klaw. She runs from them, and spends the night roaming the streets and watching all-night movies.  In the morning she decides to turn herself in, and is given a public defender and told she’ll be held without bail at Ryker’s Island (although her lawyer lets her know that her trial is set to begin the next day, which makes no kind of sense). As Ali tries to sleep in her cell, she is pulled out by three of the Grapplers, who take her to the mess hall, where Titania explains that they are upset that she killed Klaw.  The Grapplers start beating on her, and she fights back, eventually knocking them all out. She returns to her cell. The next morning, she’s kind of rude to her lawyer because he reminds her of what her life could have been. At the trial, various Project Pegasus people paint her in a bad light, but Quasar stands up for her. Her lawyer gives a good speech about how hard it is to judge someone with powers, and the jury finds her not guilty.  Her lawyer and Quasar want to go to Chinatown to celebrate, but Ali feels bad for having killed Klaw.
  • In LA, an assassin prepares his weapons.  Harry rushes Ali into a cab and off to the airport.  She flies to LA to go on tour opening for Bruce Harris, a big star in the Marvel Universe, apparently, and also a bit of a jerk, who tries to intimidate Ali.  Lance catches up with the band just before they go on, and catches the notice of some tough looking guys. Ali has a good performance, but in the middle of it, she sees a reflection in the upper levels of the house, and realizes that there is a sniper up there.  She uses her powers to blind him, so his shot goes a little stray, and his victim, Joe Cartelli, who is in the audience, is barely hurt. He changes into his Blue Shield outfit and attacks the sniper. Some other local gangsters watch this from their opera box and decide they have to leave, and figure that the Blue Shield is actually Lance.  The head gangster, named Ed, has a “secret weapon” – the She-Hulk. Some goons bust into the band’s poker game to kidnap Lance, and take Dazzler with them as insurance. They take them to a warehouse full of trucks, where they set She-Hulk, who was stunned in a car accident and is now under Ed’s control after his doctor used a mind control device on her.  She-Hulk knocks Lance down, and Dazzler stuns everyone else with her powers. She now gets into a fight with She-Hulk, who is a little sluggish, that results in her radio being broken. Dazzler starts one of the trucks so she can use the noise to power up, and she stuns She-Hulk. The recovering gangsters all try to take off, but the Blue Shield shows up, proving he’s not Lance, and chases after them.  She-Hulk returns to her senses and chats with Dazzler. She-Hulk starts to drive her back to the auditorium, and they talk about law school, fathers, and the importance of making yourself happy. She-Hulk drops Dazzler off, and the auditorium’s manager comes to book her for a headlining show, predicting that she will be more popular than Bruce Harris, who overhears this.
  • The Statement of Ownership for 1981 lists Dazzler as having an average press run of 477 000, with average newsstand returns of 179 000.  These numbers blow my mind.
  • Ali and the band have driven from LA to San Francisco, where she is putting in a couple of nights at a 17 000 seat arena.  She blows the crowd away on her first night, making Bruce Harris more jealous. Ali gets a call from Ken Barnett, the guy who defended her at her trial, and thinks about being interested in him, except that she’s still upset about Paul and how her father treats her.  This leads her to think about her mother, who disappeared when she was young (I’d thought she’d died, but now don’t want to go back to check), and the brooch she found. Just then, she sees a van drive by her hotel with the same image as the brooch – a heart with wings – on its side.  This gets her to look her mother, Katherine Blaire, up in the phonebook, but the one she finds is a child. (Why, if her mother has disappeared, would she still be going by her married name?). She thinks she should keep looking for her mother, and remembers that private investigator, Jessica Drew, who she apparently met in an issue of X-Men, lives in SF.  Jessica, aka Spider-Woman, gets to her office after a night of heroeing, just as Ali arrives to hire her. Jessica is discouraging, but Ali gives her her last $100 (why isn’t she getting a per diem on tour?) to put her on retainer. Thinking Jessica isn’t going to do anything, Ali starts asking around about the heart symbol; a bag lady tells her she sees the van going to the Transamerica Building every day.  Jessica also starts investigating, and finds that things are a little suspicious. Ali walks down a ramp at the Transamerica and ends up falling into a shaft when she opens a door that leads to a dark room with no floor. Jessica arrives at the same time, hears a scream, and changes into Spider-Woman. She floats down the shaft and finds Ali, who hasn’t been using her light powers until Spider-Woman makes her angry.  They argue about why Ali shouldn’t be investigating on her own, when a door opens and some dogs attack them. They stun the dogs and end up in another room where water jets start shooting at them. Ali realizes that the stairway out of the room is electrified (which makes no sense in a room full of water), so Spider-Woman carries her across the ceiling. The next room is full of knockout gas (which doesn’t affect Spider-Woman because apparently it’s like chicken pox, and it only works on you once) and some giant robots.  They eventually defeat them, but the room starts to close in on them. Ali’s radio is broken again (that’s become a real trope, hasn’t it?) so she has to get Spider-Woman to sing for her so she can blast a hole in the wall. That leads to an office, where they find a locked box with the heart symbol on it. It contains a roll of film. Apparently this office has no door, so they have to climb up through a ventilation shaft that lets them out high up in the building. When they watch the film, they learn that the facility (in one of the most recognizable landmarks in SF) is a disused SHIELD training facility that uses the heart/wing logo.  They figure the van they see is used to feed the attack dogs, because if you stop using a secret training facility, of course you leave the dogs there. Spider-Woman leaves, taking one last shot at Ali for not being a professional. At the arena, someone is plotting to destroy Dazzler.
  • Just before going onstage in Seattle, Ali finds out that Bruce Harris has fired her for the rest of his tour.  She figures out that he’s jealous of her talent, so decides to put on one last great show. Lance confronts Harris.  After the show, Ali tells Harris off, and then is surprised to see that Ken the lawyer has flown out to see her. The band and Ken go out for dinner, and then Ali and Ken spend a few days together getting to know each other better in Seattle.  As they get ready to board their plane home (without the band and Lance), Ken’s eyes wander to a gorgeous blonde woman who is getting a lot of attention. On the flight, Ali notices the same blonde on her way to the restroom. She is suddenly transported to Asgard, where she is in the castle of the Enchantress (who was the woman in the airport).  She rants and does some weird magic stuff, all within a spell of silence that catches the attention of Heimdall, who lets Odin know what’s going on. Odin sends the Warriors Three to check it out (and tells them he won’t be around when they get back, for very weak plot reasons). When the Warriors get to the Enchantress’s palace, they find that Dazzler is under a spell and can’t speak.  They all go to see Odin’s Royal Vizier, who decides that a trial by combat is necessary to see who is in the right, Enchantress or Dazzler. The Vizier is kind of on Ali’s side, so he has drummers and trumpeters and a big crowd to make lots of noise. They fight for pages, and the Enchantress is about to turn Ali into dissipating light when Odin shows up and decides this isn’t the right kind of contest between a god and a human.  Instead, he insists that they each sing to him. Enchantress’s voice is lovely, but Dazzler’s is more emotionally appealing, causing Volstagg to cry. Odin declares her the winner and gives her his lyre before sending her home. Ken has been freaking out that Ali disappeared from the plane, and is happy to see her show up in the airport, but she refuses to explain what happened (or where she got a lyre). Ali gets mad at him for not respecting her privacy (remember, he knows that she’s Dazzler, so I don’t know why she can’t tell him what happened), but then they kiss and make up.
  • Ali and Ken are making out on the street when they get mugged by four guys.  Ali stuns them, and a little bit Ken, and then sends him home in a cab. She thinks about how she doesn’t like to use her powers off the stage, and how if she had a superhero boyfriend, she wouldn’t have to worry about being mugged.  She sees that she has a letter from Jessica Drew stating that she is still looking for her mother for her. At Harry’s office, Lance has trouble working the phones as Cassandra is off sick, and Harry offers her a job singing backing vocals in a studio.  When she gets there, she sees her drummer, Beefer, and meets his friend Vanessa, who is also singing backup. Ali is amused to learn that she’s backing Bruce Harris. In Long Island, Ali’s father yells at her mother’s trunk and gets upset that she left him and that Ali didn’t listen to him.  As Ali leaves the studio, she is approached by a guy who claims to have met her. He shows her that he was on the cover of Fortune, and she boards a bus to get away from him. He follows, even when she enters Central Park to avoid him. He turns out to be Warren Worthington III, the Angel, and he wants to date Ali, after having met her back in issue two, and having decided to take a break from Candy Southern (although it’s not clear if Candy knows that).  Ali declines. Later, she is out for dinner with Ken when Warren turns up, having bought the restaurant because he knew she was going there (it’s not clear how he knew that). She storms out and takes Ken home, but sends him packing too. Warren knocks on her window, in costume, and convinces her to let him take her flying around Manhattan. They kiss, and Ali asks to be taken home. Late the next night, she has a gig on an overnight talk show with the band.  Afterwards, Warren is waiting for her in a convertible, and she, still in her stage get-up, decides to go with him. He wants to drive her to the Jersey Shore, but they are interrupted when Doctor Octopus busts out of an armored vehicle, where it looks like he was being transported wearing his arms. Angel heads into action, but Dazzler explains she doesn’t want to get involved. There’s no choice though, as Ock comes after them, using Dazzler as a hostage. She stuns him, he knocks Warren off a building, and Dazzler manages to stun him again, knocking him off a building.  He gets arrested by cops wearing knockout gas tanks, and Ali explains to Warren, who just abandons his car and flies her home, that she doesn’t want the world to know she’s a mutant. Back at her place, he makes another play to be in a relationship with her, but she tells him to leave. He spots the letter from Jessica Drew and vows to find Ali’s mother, so she’ll give him a chance. The Absorbing Man arrives in New York, and the narration tells us he’s looking for Dazzler.
  • Ali jams with the Human Torch and the Thing while Mister Fantastic makes her a new portable tape player that will help amplify her powers; she doesn’t want it because she doesn’t want to be a superhero, but ends up taking it anyway when she considers how often she gets wrapped up in the powered world.  Angel flies to Judge Blaire’s place in Long Island and asks Bella about Ali’s mother. Judge Blaire is kind of losing it – he can’t concentrate while sitting on the bench. Absorbing Man hangs out in a flophouse on the Bowery and thinks about how he ended up being worshipped by natives on Easter Island (not racist at all, this part) but decided to come back to America to get revenge on the Avengers.  He wants to use Dazzler for this revenge. Ali hangs out with her friend Vanessa, and then goes to a baseball game with Ken. She thinks about Warren during this date and makes out with Ken. Harry and Lance are watching audition tapes when Absorbing Man busts into the office looking for Dazzler (he saw Harry’s name in an ad connecting him to the singer). Lance tells them where she is playing that night, and he leaves them tied up.  Dazzler plays a club in Manhattan, with Absorbing Man watching from the roof, and decides to try out Reed’s new “weapon”. It makes her light too bright, and she has to offer the clubgoers refunds to get them to stay. I don’t know why she would think using the weapon on her audience is a good idea. She leaves it in her dressing room. During her second set, Absorbing Man busts through the wall to snatch her. She rushes for the weapon, but Creel grabs it first and decides to try it out.  The noise bothers him, and they fight until Ali uses her light burst on him. She is not happy to see that he absorbed it and is now huge and made of light.
  • Absorbing Man seems even more threatening in his new form, but the weapon that Reed Richards made is driving him nuts, so he wrecks it and takes off, looking for the Avengers.  Ali knows she needs to do something, but when she tries to call the Avengers to warn them, Jarvis thinks she’s a kid making a prank call. The Fantastic Four don’t answer their phone, so Ali thinks she needs to go to their place to find them.  Warren reflects on how Ali’s grandmother didn’t tell him anything about Ali’s mother, but did reveal that she knows Ali is a mutant. Warren starts to question his motives in researching Ali’s life. Ali sneaks into the Baxter Building, and starts searching the place for the team, who are not there.  She begins to use a communications console that is warm; it connects her with Medusa and Black Bolt, who she does not know. When she explains what’s going on, Lockjaw teleports Black Bolt to her, and she takes a bit to figure out that he doesn’t talk. He flies around with her, looking for Absorbing Man, while Ali explains that she doesn’t actually want to do anything.  Black Bolt starts to fight Creel (was this ever referenced in the recent Black Bolt series where they ended up being friends?), and at one point, Creel knocks him out with “light feedback”. Ali jumps in to save him, and both Ken and Warren see the fight on TV and decide they need to get there. Black Bolt flies Ali away and shields her while he slowly explains a plan he has using sign language.  Ali positions herself between Black Bolt and Absorbing Man, so that she can transduce his vocal power, which powers her up more than even absorbing Klaw did. She ends up floating, and when she unloads on Creel, she collapses. Luckily, Angel arrives just then and saves her from falling. Ken arrives too, and Ali and Black Bolt check to make sure Creel is still alive. Everyone leaves, and for some reason, it seems that the world still hasn’t figured out that Dazzler has superpowers.  On Long Island, Bella tries to find Ali to explain that Judge Blaire has really lost it, just repeating endlessly how Ali and her mother betrayed him. Ali has lunch with Vanessa, who likes her brooch. Vanessa heads off for her vocal lesson. At her lesson, she goes to use the bathroom, and opens the wrong door, discovering something surprising that we don’t get to see.
  • Judge Blaire falls deeper into his psychosis, imagining that Ali wants to destroy him.  Bella and his doctor don’t know what to do, but they think that getting Ali to talk to him might help.  Weirdly, Warren is hanging out at the Blaire home, and wants to help find Ali. Ali, meanwhile, is walking through Central Park on her way to Hunch’s loft to meet the band.  She is mugged by some teenager who steals her brooch. She dazzles him, and when she retrieves her jewellery, she discovers that it’s a locket with an old picture of her dad in it, and a photo of another man she doesn’t know.  Vanessa finds herself in a room at her vocal coach’s place that is full of posters and pictures of Dazzler. The coach, Barbara London, is upset to find her there. Dazzler’s band (without Lance) is hanging out at Hunch’s loft, which he shares with his wife Dora and infant son Justin.  Ali arrives and goes into the other room to call Harry. Just then, two men bust into the apartment using musical weapons – Doctor Sax and Johnny Guitar. We learn that these are old bandmates of the guys, who years ago, found them trying to rob a venue. They tried to stop them, and along the way, Doctor Sax was blinded by the acetylene torch he was using as a weapon.  The band stopped them, and the two went to prison. Upon their release, they got their sax and guitar modified by Techmaster so they are super weapons. As well, Doctor Sax has a visor that is basically a forerunner of the one LeVar Burton wore on Star Trek. They rough up their former friends a little, and tie them up, while Dazzler stays hidden. Barbara explains to Vanessa that the Dazzler photos belong to her daughter, who has left for college, and shows her a photo of her daughter and her ex-husband.  Angel flies around looking for Ali, checking with Harry and with Ken. When Doctor Sax plays his agony-inducing sax, Ali decides to spring into action, saving the baby, but getting herself stuck in the kitchen. She dazzles Johnny Guitar, but has a harder time dealing with Sax, eventually using a pot of coffee to short out his visor. After the police have taken them away, the band figure out that Ali is a mutant; she is beginning to think she has to accept that she will always need to use her power for good.  Angel arrives and tells her about her dad. Barbara interrupts Vanessa’s very long vocal lesson to tell her the truth – that she is Ali’s mother and that the girl in the photo is her other daughter, and that the man in it is not Carter Blaire.
  • Issue twenty-one is double-sized, and has a rare photo cover, promising the “shameful secrets” of Ali’s past.  It also features almost the entire Marvel stable of superheroes, and really, no action, as the book moves more towards romance comics territory than ever before.  Angel flies Ali to her father’s house, and neither of them notice Spider-Man swinging past them. Ali is able to shock her father out of his stupor by speaking to him and he decides to finally tell her about her mother.  Basically, Carter and Katherine met when they were young and fell in love. She sang and that put him through law school, but when he graduated, he wanted her to quit and become a housewife. She fell for some other guy, Nick Brown, and left Carter and Ali for him, never to be heard from again.  Ali doesn’t believe he’s telling the whole story and runs out, crying. At the same time, Barbara, who is really Katherine, tells Vanessa her side of the same story. In her telling, after Nick and Katherine got together, they started using drugs, and after her second daughter was born, he got violent.  Finally she left one day, taking the new daughter with her, and became a music teacher. She’s too embarrassed by her decisions to reach out to her daughter. Harry calls Ali into his office, and introduces her to Les Mitchell, a promoter who wants to put on a hospital charity gig at Carnegie Hall, if Ali can help fill the audience with superheroes.  She agrees, with reservations, and then he pinches her ass and she gets upset; after he leaves, harry chalks it up to the cost of doing business, which is way more shameful than anything Ali’s mom went through. At rehearsal, Ali does pretty poorly singing covers of things like Elvis Presley and Bob Dylan (how does that make any sense for a woman wearing a disco ball necklace and KISS makeup?) and Les offers her drugs, which annoys her more.  The next day, Ali goes shopping with Vanessa, and Vanessa gets uncomfortable when Ali suggests she see her new vocal coach. Ali has dinner with Ken and they talk about Angel. Later, Angel stops by Ali’s and apologizes for coming on so strongly before. They kiss. On the night of the concert, Judge Blaire decides to go. We see a lot of heroes arrive – the Fantastic Four, the Avengers, Daredevil (who is going as Matt Murdock), Power Man and Iron Fist, Quasar, Wonder Man, the Beast, Angel (with Bella), Spider-Man, and Ken.  Vanessa arrives with Barbara, who is nervous about being there. Ali is also kind of nervous, and snaps at Harry. Some guy from the opening act comes and offers Ali drugs (I guess Fingeroth really wanted to underscore the difference between Ali and her mother here – this is a Code approved comic, so we only hear talk of “happy pills” and “pick-me-ups”) and she gets mad at him. Her dad comes to her dressing room and apologizes to her. Ali decides to call the show off and go home with him, but then Vanessa shows up to check on her, and when she realizes she’s going to leave, decides to break Barbara’s confidence and reveal to Ali that her mother is in the crowd.  Ali apologizes to her dad and heads onstage where she puts on a great show. At the end, she sings a song she wrote and dedicates it to someone special in the audience – the song is about her dreams as a little girl. The crowd goes nuts; after the show, various characters congratulate Ali, and she refuses invites out. Eventually she hears the footsteps she’s been waiting for and finds Barbara on the stage. They speak briefly, and Barbara wants to build their relationship slowly. Carter shows up and they are cordial before Barbara excuses herself. Carter and Ali have completely made up, and he accepts her career. Ali goes home to find that all the superheroes and her band have been waiting for her in her apartment (it’s 3:00 AM, and even Grandma Bella is still up).  They have a party, and Ken and Ali dance while Warren dances with Bella.
  • Angel is attacked by a group of large and aggressive hawks in Manhattan.  He is able to outmaneuver and beat them. Ali and Lance are stuck in traffic on their way to Ali’s first recording studio session.  Somehow in the traffic jam, a woman on rollerskates is almost hit by a speeding car, but then Ali uses a laser to run the woman’s radio so she can hear the car honking at her.  That creates a bigger traffic jam somehow, and Lance honks the horn. A cop that comes to tell him off is a big fan of Ali’s, recognizing her without her makeup, and gives them an escort to the studio.  Once there, a producer named LB Holman rides Ali and the band hard, but they have a good session. Ali is upset that Ken didn’t come by – he was still at work. Mystique, Rogue, and Destiny, of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, are sitting around talking about how they will exact revenge on the X-Men through attacking the Angel.  They were behind the hawk attack, and now want to attack him again. Judge Blaire packs up Barbara’s old belongings and ships them to her; he feels happy. Barbara prepares lunch for her daughter Lois; she wants to tell her about Ali, but is nervous. Ken and Ali go to the movies, but when Ali wants to go dancing, Ken begs off, having too much work to do.  This makes Ali angry, so after she stews for a bit about her own narcissism, and whether or not she should be training to be a superhero, she goes looking for Warren. They end up talking all night, and in the morning, he decides he should fly her to see Professor Xavier. As they are flying, the Brotherhood follows. Rogue attacks, getting them on the ground.  Mystique and Destiny land in a helicopter, and they begin beating on, and confusing, Warren. Rogue recognizes Dazzler and deduces that she must be a mutant; she offers her a place in the Brotherhood, but instead, Ali attacks. She is tossed into a waterfall, while the others beat on Warren some more. Rogue is supposed to absorb his memories, but she is worried that his physical mutation will affect her, and refuses.  They put him in the helicopter, but then Ali climbs up from the waterfall, dazzles Rogue and Mystique, and punches out Destiny. She revives Warren so he can fly the helicopter, and they leave. For whatever reason, they return to Ali’s apartment instead of the Xavier School (I have no idea where the helicopter went). Warren is worried that the Brotherhood will keep coming after him so he decides to go underground (because I guess asking the X-Men for help would be dumb?) and suggests that Ali hire Heroes for Hire as bodyguards.  There is a knock on the door – it’s Lois London, Ali’s sister.
  • Ali wakes to find smoke in her apartment.  She chooses to not wake her sister Lois, who she has stayed up all night talking with, and who is now sleeping on the floor, and when she finds that the phone lines and fire alarms have been cut, uses her powers to signal to some police.  Lois sees this. Ali and Lois wrap themselves in blankets and pack a few things, but don’t bother getting dressed before they leave. They have to stop to help an older lady, causing Ali to use her powers again. The man who set the fire, called Flame, rides his silent motorcycle to a payphone to let his employer know that the police responded to the fire.  Ali’s landlord, Crowley, arrives to suggest to his tenants that had they bought co-op shares, this might not have happened. Mystique, Destiny, and Rogue, now being called the Sisterhood of Evil Mutants (which is weird when you consider that two of them are lovers and the third Mystique’s “daughter”) talk about how they are going to leave Angel alone now, and how they don’t see Dazzler as a threat, although Rogue doesn’t agree.  The next day, Ali is rehearsing at a cable TV station for an appearance there when Power Man and Iron Fist arrive. Dazzler explains that she feels that the Sisterhood is after her and that she needs protection. They agree to help her for $100 a day. Just then, the studio bursts into flames and somehow the ceiling immediately starts to collapse. Power Man holds it up while Iron Fist helps get everyone to safety. Flame watches, angry that Ali has survived again.  While out shopping with Barbara, Lois faints and we learn that’s happened to her before, as she gets headaches. Angel sits at a diner, hiding out from the Sisterhood. He feels he can’t go to Professor X because he’s “dispirited” and I guess being super rich really limits his options, so he plays Space Invaders. Ali talks to Ken about how she feels like she’s putting her friends and family in danger (I guess it’s safe to be at Ken’s place though); he offers his place for her to stay at, but she decides to go to Heroes For Hire instead.  On the way she changes her mind and decides to go see her landlord to see if he has any available units she can hide in (even though it’s nighttime and he would probably not be at his office). Power Man and Iron Fist talk about investigating other reasons why people might want to burn down Ali’s building. Ali arrives at her landlord’s and overhears him talking to Flame about why he hired him to burn down the building. Flame hears Ali and grabs her – he ties her up and drives off with her on his silent bike. He takes her to a building he’s supposed to burn down, but she manages to free herself by pulling the muffler off his bike and then using the sound it makes to power herself up.  Flame has a firesword (of course he does), so Ali makes herself a laser sword, and they fight. Dazzler takes him down as the building catches fire. Power Man and Iron Fist show up and they talk about how they feel that Dazzler is not in danger. Ali disagrees. We see Rogue looking at a picture of Dazzler and announcing, “Ah’m comin’ for ya!”
  • Rogue busts down the door to Ali’s apartment, and when she sees she’s not home, trashes the place and sits down to wait for her.  One of Ali’s neighbours warns her that Rogue is there before she gets home (her building is still scorched from when Flame tried to burn it down, but everyone’s okay to live there?  Burning beams were falling on old ladies in the last issue). Ali calls Power Man and Iron Fist, and they come to confront Rogue. They fight in Ali’s apartment while Ali waits on the street.  Rogue knocks out Iron Fist and throws Power Man through the wall, dropping him six floors. Ali rushes in, but just sees Rogue leaving. Rogue saw a note on Ali’s bulletin board that says she’s scheduled to visit her sister on Tuesday at her university.  Later, Ali heads into a recording session where the producer, LB Holman, asks her to dinner, but Ali defers. She has dinner with Ken, and ends up staying at his place because she’s afraid to go home. She sleeps chastely on the couch. Warren rents a gym so he can fly around for a while, since he’s still afraid to be seen in public, since he thinks the Sisterhood is after him still.  Power Man and Iron Fist discuss Ali’s plans to travel upstate to see her sister at college, and decide they should head up there. Ali arrives on the campus and walks past Rogue, who has disguised herself as a “preppie” (she’s wearing a scarf over her head). Ali finds Lois passed out in her dorm room. Lois tells her that she faints and has headaches, and wonders if she’s a mutant. Rogue busts in and starts slapping Ali around.  Rogue wants to know where Angel is, and Ali keeps saying that she doesn’t know. Lois kind of admires how Rogue owns her mutant-ness. Ali jumps out the window to get away from Rogue, and starts skating across the campus. Rogue picks up her radio thinking it’s a weapon, and follows. They end up in the library where Ali plugs a record player into the PA system so she can power up. They keep fighting, and Rogue absorbs Ali’s powers (without, apparently, taking her memories or knocking her out).  Power Man and Iron Fist arrive and manage to take Rogue down. Ali stops them from beating her up to try to calm her down. This surprises Rogue, especially when Ali tells her that Angel told her that the X-Men are all dead in space; Rogue uses the last of Ali’s powers to dazzle everyone and flies off. Lois is still worried about what her fainting and headaches mean.
  • Issue twenty-five is a fill-in issue by Steven Grant and Marc Bright.  Lance has Ali posing for some photos dressed as a pirate, and she doesn’t like it.  After they argue, he brings her roses from a fan, and she wants him added to the guest list, even though Harry and Lance warn her it might not be safe.  They’re right, because the guy, Karl Fredericks, is watching her through binoculars from the building across the street. Seeing that she’s leaving, he rushes back to his job at a key store, where his boss gives him some grief.  Later, he goes home and we learn he was in the military and has a bunch of guns in his bedroom at his mom’s place. He argues with his mom, then goes watch Dazzler perform. He gets backstage and asks her out to dinner. Ali agrees, even though it’s past midnight, and they go to a fancy restaurant; Karl talks about how his father took off when he went to Vietnam, and Ali starts to talk about how her father didn’t approve of her career.  After dinner, Ali wants to go home, but Karl doesn’t want the date to end. He kisses her, and she tells him off and leaves in a cab. The next morning, she arrives at Harry’s office to find that it’s been ransacked, and every picture of her has been stolen. Karl calls to apologize, but his boss cuts off the call and fires him for making calls on company time. Ali goes home to find roses in her apartment and a note from Karl promising to “destroy the creep” who hurt her.  She realizes that she knows Karl from walking past the key shop, and goes there to look for him; she finds his boss on the ground, bleeding from a gunshot wound. Ali calls for an ambulance and then finds Karl’s address. She goes to his house, where she learns his mother thinks they are engaged. She sees that one of his guns is missing and finds notes about her father. She borrows Lance’s car and drives to Long Island (why couldn’t she just call?), arriving just as her father’s court adjourns.  Karl is waiting in Judge Blaire’s office, and is about to shoot him when Ali flashblinds them both, uses a laser to destroy Karl’s gun, and then takes off, thinking that the issue is resolved, and not wanting her father to know she was there. Karl got out the window though. That night, Dazzler performs, and Karl sneaks into her dressing room, waiting to kill her. Ali sees him through the crack in the door, and fights him before knocking him out. Lance and her talk about what fame is going to be like for her.
  • As Dazzler performs to a sold-out crowd, some thugs try to rob the venue’s manager on the side of the stage.  Dazzler sees this and barrels into them, then tells the crowd she is taking an intermission. Her friends, including Vanessa, all praise her, but Lois, who is also watching the show, doesn’t feel well.  Dazzler goes out to finish her set, but Lois decides to go for a walk. She continues to worry that she might be a mutant. A drunk homeless man tries to kiss her, and her hands begins to glow; when she touches him with it, he chokes and dies.  Later, Ali wonders where he sister got to. Lois arrives and tells her what happened. Ali worries that if Lois comes clean with the authorities, she might not get treated fairly due to anti-mutant hysteria. She calls Ken for advice, but doesn’t think about calling the X-Men, who are kind of the experts on this stuff.  Ali decides that the two of them should take a trip. Henry Peter Gyrich hears about the murder in New York, and decides he needs to send in his Mutant Hunters. Ali and Lois ride a bus to Pittsburgh where they rent a $15 hotel room. To cheer up, they try to go to a movie, but Ali gets recognized by some fans (remember that she hasn’t released a single yet, so I’m not sure how people would know who she is).  Ali takes Lois back to the hotel, and goes shopping for a wig and new clothes. Lois is visited by the hotel manager’s cat, and after it scratches her, she kills it by mistake with her new powers. When Ali gets back and learns of this, she decides they should move again. The next morning, the Mutant Hunters, who are two guys with guns, find the cat’s body and figure they can use some kind of scanner to track down Ali and Lois, who are on a bus again.
  • The Statement of Ownership, which is erroneously dated for 1981, like the last one, lists an average press run of 397 000, with average newsstand returns of 227 000.
  • Issue twenty-seven marks the start of some big changes for Dazzler, and while I feel like I should have ended the column with the last issue, the fact that this one continues the Lois storyline, I’m going to include it here.  With this issue, Danny Fingeroth is gone, and regular artist Frank Springer writes as well, which seems to energize his art. As well, there is a new logo, and Bill Sienkiewicz, beginning to enter his experimental phase, provides a gorgeous cover (which is the main reason why I started buying up issues of this book in the first place).  Ali and Lois continue their bus ride across the country, and Ali has a seven page dream wherein Rogue attacks her, absorbs Lois’s powers, and uses them to burn her face. She wakes up shouting just as the bus arrives in LA. They get a hotel room, and Ali starts to talk to her half-sister about maybe turning herself in, when there is a knock on the door.  A note has been left, with pictures of Lois killing the homeless guy in New York, insisting that the girls call a phone number. They call, and the unidentified man on the line tells them he wants them to kill a sleeping man for him. They are to call a new number at midnight. He hangs up on them and then calls a second unidentified man, claiming he is close to finding a certain girl.  He lies and says he is in Las Vegas; it appears that this guy is blackmailing the other guy who is blackmailing Ali and Lois. Ali calls the guy at midnight, and he tells them to take a car he’s left for them to a place on a map, and then kill the sleeping guy when they get there and steal the money in his safe; after it’s done, he’ll give them the photos that show Lois is a murderer. Ali decides to call Warren, who happens to be in LA, just flying around when he gets her page.  That night, Ali and Lois drive to the mansion they are directed to, and enter the man’s bedroom. When Ali starts to whisper Warren’s name, the first anonymous guy shows up with a gun. Angel flies through the open window, and the guy shoots him. Ali turns on the TV and uses her powers to knock the guy out, which somehow surprises Lois. Angel is okay, and it’s at this point that the sleeping guy, who was probably drugged, wakes up. He and Lois recognize one another.
  • Rogue is in New York working out in a basement, and has decorated her brick punching bag with Dazzler’s image.  She is still angry that Dazzler beat her with just light, and tells Destiny and Mystique that she is going to go smash her.  Ali, Lois, and Angel are still in that rich guy’s bedroom. It turns out he’s Nick Brown, Lois’s father, and that the guy who was trying to blackmail Lois into killing him is a private detective that Nick hired to find Lois.  When he saw her maybe kill a homeless guy, he hatched a plot to make himself rich. Ken arrives with some police – Warren had called him, and he was somehow luckily in LA at the time (so how did Warren get ahold of him?). Later, everyone (except Angel, who is now in the hospital for his gunshot wound) is in Nick’s limo, and Ken tells them that the homeless guy in New York died from a heart attack, which means Lois didn’t kill him.  Ali hears her song being played on the radio, and Nick mentions that he “owns” Roman Nekoboh, a huge singing star. Out of nowhere, as the limo arrives at Nick’s estate, Rogue jumps on it and after pulling Ali out of it, starts to smash it so that the others can’t get out, and so the horn won’t power Ali up. Ali runs to a garage and starts up a Packard V-12, which I think Frank Springer really wanted to draw, because we then get six pages of Ali fighting from the car.  She ends up on Nick’s private airfield, and tries to start up a jet. The noise from it powers her up, and she is able to shoot solidish bursts of light at Rogue. Off-balance, Rogue almost gets pulled into the jet’s air intake, but Ali tackles her and then shoves her in the trunk of the car, which gets another page of being spotlighted. As she drives back to the others, Ali thinks about how, if she starts making money off her song, she can maybe buy the car she’s practically wrecked from Nick.
  • Issue twenty-nine features Dazzler’s first album, “Sounds of Light and Fury” on the cover, although that album has not been discussed in the book yet.  Dazzler lies by the side of Nick Brown’s pool dreaming of stardom while Lois talks to her about how much she hates being a mutant (yet Ali still doesn’t consider going to the X-Men).  They both feel like they can’t fully trust Nick, but Ali is happy to go to a photoshoot for him, especially since it means she can meet Roman Nekobah. We see that Nekobah is an old, bald man who uses dentures, a girdle, contact lenses and a toupee to appear much younger than he is.  He’s supposed to be the biggest star in the Marvel Universe, but he seems modeled on Tom Jones more than anyone else. We learn that Roman is practically broke when his financial advisor comes to see him. Roman, however, is full of bluster, and has plans to make a movie with Dazzler, figuring that will make him rich again.  At the photoshoot, Ali doesn’t really notice that Nick seems to be squeezing Harry Osgood out of things. Later, Ali meets Roman, who lays on the charm pretty thick. They leave the recording studio, and Roman puts on shaded glasses to disguise himself. Showing off, he walks her into a luxury car dealership and buys a display model for $80 000, driving off in it.  He tells Ali he wants her to be in a movie with him and drives her to his private jet. He gets his pilot, Hack, to circle them around the desert for a while, while he puts the moves on her (we don’t see what’s going on, because the art shows the plane). Ali notices a jet following them, and it starts to attack them. Roman is knocked unconscious. Ali turns up the stereo and shoots lasers at the jet through the window, wrecking it (although we see that the pilot is able to eject).  Heading to the cockpit, Ali sees that Hack has been shot and is unconscious or dead. There are three pages of very nice Butch Guice pin-ups to round out the issue.
  • Issue thirty took Assistant Editor’s Month a little too far, as someone named Ken McDonald, who only has one other writing credit, takes over to finish this story.  Is Ken McDonald a real person, or was this book written by committee, and this is a fake pen name? Anyway, Ali, still in the pilotless airplane, wakes up Roman and learns that there are two parachutes.  She puts him in one and pushes him out the door of the remarkably stable and straight-flying plane. Next, she puts the other chute on the injured pilot and jumps out holding on to him. As they fall, she uses her powers like a beacon, which attracts some cops who are just driving around the desert.  When they take her to the hospital, they find Roman entertaining a crowd and being waited on by all the doctors and nurses. The cops take Ali back to Nick Brown’s place, and when she gets there, he gives her a hard time for not using her accident to raise her profile. While they argue, Nick is pretty dismissive of Ali as an artist and as a woman.  Lois, who last issue was sharing her fears of Nick, takes his side so Ali grabs her stuff and leaves. Of course it’s raining while she walks through LA. She is offered a ride by Ralph Macchio, the book’s usual editor, who is driving down to San Diego for a comic convention. She decides to go with him, and accepts a $20 loan since she’s broke. I have no idea why Macchio would fly to LA and rent a car to drive to San Diego.  At a secret military base, we learn that an anti-mutant faction of the army was responsible for the attack on Ali. When the general in charge of the project leaves, the guy left in charge starts a big plan (this is a parallel structure thing). At Marvel’s office, assistant editor Bob Harras is freaking out because Macchio hasn’t called him by 9:30 AM(despite the fact that that would be 6:30 in California). The other assistant editors try to cheer him up, and following Ann Nocenti’s advice, he decides to do what he wants.  Ali calls Harry to get some money wired to her. Ralph arrives at Comic-Con. Bob starts making changes to his comics. The military follows Ali into Comic-Con, and start setting up some weird equipment that will make her mutant powers go into overdrive. She starts to feel weird, but before she loses control of her powers, one of the soldiers turns into a big purple dinosaur (think of Barney, only less friendly) because he’s a mutant, and starts rampaging around the convention. Ali fights him, and between the two of them, the roof comes down on the mutant.  Ali finds Ralph and saves him from a collapsing column, and then gives him back the twenty he loaned her. Ali sees that the mutant soldier dinosaur guy is gone. Ralph finds a pay phone on a barely-standing wall and calls the Marvel offices, shutting down some strange plans that Bob has. Ali gets on a bus headed for LA, vowing to “make it.”

This seems like a good place to break up the column, as it feels like the random writers working on this book after Fingeroth left had wrapped up most of his dangling plotlines, even if that meant that stories and characters, like Angel and Lois, were just shoved aside.

Looking at these first thirty issues, this series is kind of all over the place.  Tom DeFalco’s early issues are generally kind of terrible. He is trying to make a singer into a superhero, and has her going up against threats that are way beyond her weight class from the beginning.  Enchantress? The Hulk? Galactus? Pitting someone like Spider-Man or Daredevil against these threats doesn’t make sense; having Ali fight them is beyond ridiculous, especially while DeFalco is trying so hard to portray Ali as a lost soul, missing her family and barely keeping her head above water financially.  At the same time, she is the darling of the superhero establishment, with Captain America and everyone else showing up for her to audition a prospective manager. There is a lot of desperation coming off the pages of DeFalco’s run.

When Fingeroth came onboard, this series really began to take shape, and became a lot more interesting.  His Dazzler just kept running across problems that somehow ended up involving her (like when her manager ends up being the target of a homicidal ex-associate), but what makes her interesting as a character is her determination to not become a superhero.  She’s a singer who happens to be a mutant, and who is not above using her abilities to help enhance her stage act, but that’s the extent of her designs for her abilities.

I feel like a lot more could have been done with that tension within the character, but wonder to what extent Fingeroth had to fight for this interpretation (which might explain his hasty and unexplained departure from the book, which is never discussed in the letters page).  It’s interesting to me that a title that was selling roughly 170 000 units a month was not a superhero book at all, while being square in the middle of that world.

I also found it interesting to see how realistic Fingeroth and the later writers were about the music industry.  Dazzler might be super talented, but we see her paying her dues, struggling to get gigs, and having to take on odd jobs to make ends meet, while her fame slowly grows.  I’m sure it was tempting to go straight to her being a huge start, but this journey, which replaces the typical “hero’s journey” is what gives the book shape for long stretches (while, that and her family saga, which I’ll return to shortly).

At the same time, while I was very young when this book came out, I think even then, I would have recognized what a pop culture mess it is.  Dazzler dresses in a disco suit, complete with magnetic roller skates (which attach to any footwear she owns) and a disco ball, and paints her face in KISS-like makeup, but sings covers of songs by Bob Dylan?  There are references to contemporary acts like Blondie and The Plasmatics, but so much of Ali’s musical oeuvre does not seem to fit with her look. If it stands out as odd to me now, I wonder how it read back then?

For interest’s sake, and to make this column even longer, here is a list of all the acts that Ali or some other character referenced in the run:

  • Pink Floyd #1, 4
  • Blondie #1
  • Billy Joel #1
  • Elvis Costello #3
  • Devo #4
  • Electric Light Orchestra #8
  • Bruce Springsteen #10, 21
  • Olivia Newton-John #12
  • The Plasmatics #12
  • Blue Oyster Cult #12
  • The Rolling Stones #15
  • Alvin and the Chipmunks #16
  • Elton John #21
  • Diana Ross #21
  • Bob Dylan #21
  • Adam and the Ants #25
  • Boomtown Rats #25
  • John Lennon #30
  • Paul McCartney #30

I would have thought there’d be a lot more, and that it would be a lot hipper.

Ali’s issues with her family is something that we come back to time and again.  Ali’s father hates that she became a singer, and works as kind of the anti-Uncle Ben from the first issue.  Ali wishes they could have a better relationship, but is not prepared to subsume her dreams for his. This is, of course, complicated by the disappearance of her mother, which is something we hear about over and over.  Ali goes so far as to hire Jessica Drew to try to find her mother, and the Angel (more on him shortly too) starts a hunt on his own, but it is actually Ali’s friend, who seems to have been introduced to the series only for this purpose, who just randomly goes to Ali’s mom for vocal lessons and puts it all together.  This leads to one of the most dated moments in the run, as Barbara’s story doesn’t seem as shameful in 2018 as it must have in the mid-80s.

The introduction of Ali’s half-sister Lois is interesting too, but it looks like Jim Shooter didn’t want to fit her into his plans, and so she didn’t stick around too long after finding her father and learning a tiny bit about her powers.

It’s difficult to look at the way record executives, producers, and club owners (to say nothing of obsessive fans) sometimes treat Ali from a 2018 vantage place.  Again, I’m sure Fingeroth and the other writers were trying to weave a little bit of reality into a Code-approved Marvel comic. It’s just that in the post-#MeToo moment, this stuff stands out probably more than it did when it was created.

Ali’s relationships with men fall into that category too.  There are three main suitors that Ali entertains across these thirty issues.  Paul is a doctor whose behaviour would cost him his license today. He looks up her address in hospital records, betrays other patient’s confidentiality, and then decides that she’s too wild for him, without even learning that she’s a mutant and sort of a hero.  

Ken, the lawyer, just kind of shows up and sticks around, and even though the characters declare their love for one another, there is no indication that Ken got any further than chastely kissing Ali and watching her sleep on his couch.  Ken just kind of disappears after making a brief appearance in LA – we’ll have to see if he comes back.

I found the actions of Warren Worthington, The Angel, to be kind of problematic.  He just shows up out of nowhere deciding that he and Ali should be together, and more or less stalks her, although it seems more gentle and acceptable, maybe because he’s a mutant, or perhaps because he’s rich.  Within minutes of Ken leaving, Warren is at Ali’s window, and it comes off as creepy. Even his way of ingratiating himself to her by befriending her grandmother and trying to dig up her family’s secrets, is not that different from the way her actual stalker acted.  

We know that Warren’s a good guy, but his persistence really bothered me.  I’m not sure if their relationship ever got referenced again, especially since while in New York (and, coincidentally, LA), Warren was on a break from his long-term girlfriend Candy Southern, who he immediately returned to in the pages of New Defenders (see my article on that run here).  I don’t even remember them being shown as friends again at the various times that they’ve been hanging around the X-Men at the same time.

Another interesting relationship is the one between Dazzler and Rogue, in the days almost immediately before she became an X-Man.  Rogue is just a really angry villain in these issues – she even refers to herself as “evil” non-ironically. Her return in the post-Fingeroth issues is weird.  Ali seemed to get through to her in the Power Man and Iron Fist issues, but then she comes back as angry and rabid as ever. Later, these two characters spent a lot of time hanging out together in the X-Men’s Australian Outback era, and I’m not sure if their previous animosity was ever discussed.  All I know for sure is that before Chris Claremont got to spend some time with her, Rogue was a very boring character.

Fingeroth’s run started to feel very consistent just before he left the title.  I haven’t done any research, but I kind of suspect that Jim Shooter, who had big plans for Ali in the form of the Graphic Novel and the Beauty And The Beast miniseries, wanted more control over her, and decided that getting the artist, Frank Springer, to take over was the right move.  We definitely saw a quick resolution to Lois’s story that felt pretty forced and didn’t even address her mutant abilities. We also quickly saw Ali positioned to star in movies, which was never discussed in the first couple years of her career.

To switch topics to Ali’s abilities for a moment, I found that their portrayal was wildly inconsistent.  It’s generally established that she turns sound into light, and we learned at Project Pegasus that she has no upper limit to how much power she can absorb.  What is never made clear though is whether, when she transduces sound into light, people can still hear the original sound. If they can, it doesn’t really make sense.  If they can’t, then her using her powers in her performances makes no sense, as it would wreck the concert.

As well, her control and application of her abilities shifts around a lot.  Her dazzle bursts sometimes appear to have concussive force, and she is able to destroy things like a walkman or a jet airplane with her laser, but at other moments, she can’t seem to do much more than create distractions.  At times, she appears to be as powerful as Havok, but at others, she wouldn’t be able to beat Jubilee.

Artwise, this book is not all that impressive.  John Romita Jr.’s early issues aren’t that good, but it’s before he began to develop his own style, so we can forgive it.  Frank Springer had a very long run with Ali, and much of it is similarly dull. I found that towards the end of this stack, when Springer was writing his own stories, the art sometimes got more detailed, at least up to the point when he wanted to just draw cars and airplanes, and put Ali in situations that would allow that.  Once the book went bi-monthly, it does seem like he made good use of that extra time.

The covers of this book are another story.  We see a variety of cover artists showing up, with the first issue having a painted cover at a time when that was rare.  Later, we get a photo cover, which was almost completely unheard of at the time.

The best thing about this series, though, are Bill Sienkiewicz’s covers.  We see some early stuff, from his Neal Adams days (issues 8 & 9), followed by his Moon Knight era early scratchy stuff (#s 15,16, and 18), and then a string of terrific painted covers as he began to establish himself as the artist we think of him as (starting with issue 27, in all its 80s glory).  It is these covers that caused me to want to fill in my gaps in this series and start reading it. I can’t help but wonder just how good these comics would have been had Sienkiewicz been given the chance to draw the interiors (about two years before his New Mutants issues began to run).

Sienkiewicz stayed on the covers for the beginning of the next batch of issues I want to look at, which cover Jim Shooter’s control of the character, as he takes her into a graphic novel and side miniseries with the Beast, while ruining her career and life.  Let’s see how these issues are; I didn’t read any of the next batch until Secret Wars II and the Beyonder came calling.

If you’d like to see the archives of all of my retro review columns, click here.

It looks like it’s been a while since any of these comics got collected anywhere.  It’s probably easier to find the original issues than it is to find the Essentials collections now, but you can try looking here:
Essential Dazzler, Vol. 1 (Marvel Essentials)
Essential Dazzler, Vol. 2 (Marvel Essentials)

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