Wednesday, August 31, 2005

DAZZLER #13 Marvel Comics, 1982

Boob War Week continues with a look at some vintage catfight action!

Let’s get the credits out of the way: Dazzler #13 was written by Danny Fingeroth, penciled by Frank Springer, inked by Vince Coletta, and, perhaps most importantly, was edited by the legendary/infamous Jim Shooter. You know, I should have a Jim Shooter Week. It wouldn’t involve Jim Shooter’s breasts (unless anybody has pictures of them).

Anyway, thank God that these brave people had the guts to think outside the box and deliver the comic-reading public of the eighties what it really wanted, even if it didn’t know it. Really, what kid didn’t want to read about a mutant disco queen who sang and roller skated and blasted people with light? Dazzler was like a more violent version of the beloved Olivia Newton-John film Xanadu.

His particular issue proves that Marvel could rock the Boob War even in the early eighties. The official title of the story is “Trial… And Terror” but I like to call it “Dazzler’s Prison Catfight Special.”

Reading through the comic, one wonders who exactly this book was targeted towards. In this issue, Alison Blaire, aka Dazzler, has some issues with her disapproving asshole father, tries to get some work, gets dumped by her boyfriend, gets arrested for the murder of Klaw in a previous issue, gets in a catfight with a bunch of costumed female wrestlers in prison, and ultimately stands trial and is found not guilty. It’s like a weird hybrid of the old newspaper strip Apartment 3-G, the film Chained Heat, and a Law & Order fan-fiction story.

I can just see Jim Shooter talking about this issue with Danny Fingeroth and Frank Springer: “I like all the soap opera shit, Danny, and the trial scene. Girls will love it. But you know what we need? A catfight. I’d like her to not being wearing a lot of clothes. Can you work that in?”

Let me be honest with you for a minute. I have never liked Dazzler, not even in an ironic way. The Dazzler series always tread an uneasy line between weepy movie-of-the-week drama and super-heroic action, as this issue illustrates. I just never liked her as a character. Her mutant power enables her to absorb sound and turn it into light – hence the name. She’s supposed to be a plucky, struggling starlet who just wants to sing and dance, but really she comes across as a shallow whiner.

In this issue alone, I counted six different panels where she breaks into tears, including this one, where her boyfriend breaks up with her in a crowded restaurant because he thinks she won’t make a scene. Boy, is he wrong!

In an issue preceding this one that I haven’t read, Dazzler “kills” Ulysses Klaw during a big fight at Project: Pegasus. For reasons unclear to me, the government suddenly gives a shit about the fate of a supervillain that we all know is going to come back anyway, and they arrest her.

Dazzler has to spend the night in a sound-proof cell in Ryker’s Island, a maximum security prison where actor Jonathan Frakes tortures inmates by sitting on them and farting while eating fried chicken. No, no – wait. I made that up, the Jonathan Frakes part.

All the female prisoners of Ryker’s Island are given skimpy outfits to wear – Dazzler gets some pajama pants and a sexy belly-shirt for her overnight stay. She’s trying to sleep in her drafty pajamas when the door busts open and Dazzler is dragged out of her cell by The Grapplers – a gang of super-power female wrestler/criminals that Dave’s Long Box readers last saw in this Marvel Team-Up review.

The Grapplers have heard that Dazzler killed Klaw and want to know why and how, so they pull her before the entire scantily clad population of Ryker’s Island and beat her up. There’s a lot of hair-pulling, midriff baring, and some titillating glimpses of Dazzler’s dazzlers, if you know what I mean. Plus, Dazzler screams “No! NOOOO!” a lot.

Take a look:

Okay, I have a couple of questions: If these women are supposed to be in prison, how exactly are they wearing their costumes? Shouldn’t they be dressed in halter-tops and cut-off shorts like all the rest of the female inmates? And what kind of prison are they in where they can just bust into (unlocked) cells or roam free at night? There’s a scrap of dialogue which says that The Grapplers bribed/threatened the guards, but I’m not buying it.

Back to the catfight. Dazzler gets smacked around by Letha, Poundcakes, and Screaming Mimi while the other well-endowed inmates look on with Sapphic interest:

Fortunately, Dazzler absorbs Screaming Mimi’s sonic powers, turns the sound into light, and wipes out The Grapplers. Unfortunately, she doesn’t appear in court the next day wearing her tiny shirt – that would have been cool.

The court scene? Wow. The writers of frickin’ Matlock would be embarrassed by how strangely boring and unprofessional the whole thing is. She cries a few more times, the jury finds her not guilty, end of story.

And that, my friends, is how they did Boob War back in the day. Well, that and those kick-ass Frank Thorne Red Sonja issues. But that’s another story…


Winterteeth said...

Did I catch a "One Crazy Summer" reference in there with the Ryker's Island gag? If so, bravo! If not, it was still damn funny.

Scipio said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Scipio said...

A shallow whiner?

In a MARVEL book?!


Shon Richards said...

It was established in the Batman Adam West series that allowing criminals to wear costumes in jail helped them come to terms with their identity and their exclusion from society. This is the weird stuff I remember from the series.

Speaking of crappy television superhero shows, will Black Scorpion get a cameo in BoobWar week?

Marionette said...

Dazzler was always too forced. She was a superhero created by a committee and then boosted with a lot of guest stars, but I don't think anyone ever fell for it. The issue where Dazzler fights Galactus is a particular favourite of mine.

Jon Silpayamanant said...

Speaking of crappy television superhero shows, will Black Scorpion get a cameo in BoobWar week?


Anonymous said...

You gotta love that the inmates are also using proper grammar: "I've got roaches in my cell tougher than she." Remember, no matter where life takes you, you should always practice proper use of proverbs. Even if it is to the jail of the scantily clad women.

Matt Shepherd said...

When I was eight years old, I bought Red Sonja #1, and then my parents took it away and said I could never buy comics ever again because they were made by the Devil. True story.

I talked them out of it the next day, but had to stay away from boobosity for a while.

Anonymous said...

Papa Smurf always said to steer clear of characters created in collaboration with a disco record label...

It's pathetic because it's true.

Sleestak said...

Yeah, Dazzler sucked and had a horrible Graphic Novel devoted to her, but the photo cover of issue #21 featuring June McDonald as Dazzler was pretty good.

Anonymous said...

You gotta love that the inmates are also using proper grammar: "I've got roaches in my cell tougher than she".


Anonymous said...

I remember an issue of Dazzler where there was a contest to develop new makeup for... whatever she does on her face.

All the winning entries- hell, all the entries mentioned- were from guys.

Under Springer and Coletta, Dazzler was... unique.

David Bishop said...

...a maximum security prison where actor Jonathan Frakes tortures inmates by sitting on them and farting while eating fried chicken.

A tale that is truly...BEYOND BELIEF!

Anonymous said...

Her mutant power enables her to absorb sound and turn it into light – hence the name.

Not to question the infallible Danny Fingeroth (who now writes scholarly books like Superman on the Couch), but isn't Screaming Mimi the last person that should be using her power on Dazzler?

Anonymous said...

You'd think with the "cash in on whatever trend there is" mentality of comics (and other media for that matter) that there would've been some attempt at a Dazzler as Britney Spears analog relaunch.

It's not something I actually want to see, it just surprises me that the big brains uptop missed that one. Or maybe they haven't and I've thankfully just missed it.

Anonymous said...

In the Gail Simone scripted run of Deadpoll, Dazzler shows up having enjoyed a comeback, though a comeback rooted in kitsch appeal and her being appreciated "ironically".

Anonymous said...

That Deadpool issue had the Rhino reduced to the size of a keychain and covered by Deadpool with Cheeez Whiz. Man, we could have a Deadpool week. The guy deserves it!


Martin Wisse said...

Funnily enough the best Dazzler story ever took place in a n isue of Classic X-men: just her and a couple of friends going out.

I always liked Dazzler, even if her stories were always shit. Then again, she never had a chance had she, with Danny Fingeroth, mr crappy fill-in, writing her.

Anonymous said...

I actually thought Dazzler was a neat idea at first. You got the whole outcast-freak, "protecting a world that hates and fears them" theme with the ANAD X-Men, yet there was Dazzler, Mutant Disco Superstar. Sort of a nice counterpoint. Except Claremont clearly didn't know how to include her until later. So unlike the rest of mutantdom, she was off having adventures totally separate from the mutant mecca (especially female mutants) of Claremont's little section of Marvel. Crappy adventures. So by the time Claremont found a chance to bring her into the team post-Massacre, she wasn't just a stereotype, she was a joke stereotype. You get the feeling that the whole Siege Perilous thing was just an elaborate excuse to retcon her out of existence. Marvel had Lila Cheney, Mutant Intergalactic Rock Superstar by then anyway.

What's with Marvel and ancilliary X-Men music divas? A Britney Spears mutant wouldn't surprise me, though I can't for the life of me figure out why Misty Knight hasn't become a Fugee yet. Or why we haven't seen the Nu Metal stylings of Callisto and the Limp Tentaclz.

Anonymous said...

If you're looking for a Britney-type story in Marvel Comics, the closest I believe they've come was Joe Casey's short tenure on UNCANNY X-MEN. Drawn by Ian Churchill.

This all serves to remind me: I picked up an issue of DAZZLER in a quarter bin last year that I've been meaning to review for just a long: Dazzler versus Galactus.

Anonymous said...

Hey, has anyone ever read What If? #33, "What if Dazzler had become the herald of Galactus?"

Yes, it's just as awesome dumb as it sounds. After the battle with Terrax in issue #9, Galactus decides to exile him, and chooses Dazzler as his new herald. She skates... across the universe... on a yellow beam of light. And sings, too. And in time, she and Galctus grow close... it was written by Fingeroth, with pencils by Vosburg and Coletta.

I second the nominations for Shooter week and Deadpool week. Heck, I'll provide some of the comics!

Anonymous said...

I always liked Dazzler. 80s pseudo-feminist kitsch, but on a very human level. And Marvel is still trying to play catch up and hit that market in pretty much every mutant re-vamp.

It's sad that the title sunk so low, though. It relied too much on its guest stars, and Shooter just killed the series with too much drama later on. The original Fingeroth/DeFalco stuff was the better stuff, actually -- midriff sapphic prison scenes and all. Frank Springer was big on female nudity in art. He showed Dazzler boob all over the place.

Most of Marvel's big 80s writers were big on the girl-sex anyway. Chris Claremont?! Sapphic? It's like peanut butter and jelly. It would be nice to see a real Dazzler revival.

Anonymous said...

"What if Dazzler had become the herald of Galactus?"

err... take a massively powerful mutant (intermittently, when writers remember that she can handle input up to standing next to jet engines, and that her output can include actual lasers), but one whose power is wholly dependent on certain kinds of vibration of air, and stick her in a vaccuum. Riiiiiight.

Anonymous said...

have dazzler vol 1 no-2 april 1981 is it worth anything to collect these

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Oswald said...

This can't work in reality, that's what I think.
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