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Dazzler #16 (1982, June)

August 6, 2013

Less than a month until I go back to college. It’s getting close. For today, “Black Magic Woman!”

Black magic Woman!

Enchantress does look pretty cool there.

We start in Seattle, with Dazzler being fired from the rest of Bruce Harris’ right before she’s about to go onstage. She decides to make her final show a memorable one. After her performance, she bumps into Ken, whose mustache will always creep me out. I just wanted to say that for the record. Anyway, they check out Seattle and explore their feelings for each other. Ken is marginally less dull than Dr. McHandsome, but the romance between Dazzler and Ken still feels kinda icky.

Anyway, they grab a plane back East. She heads to the bathroom, and exits into a castle. The Enchantress’ castle, obviously. She wants revenge for Dazzler ruining her plans way back in #2. She shows Dazzler the monkeys she’s made out of former suitors, and then creates a zone of silence around her castle. Then the torture starts. But Heimdall notices the zone of silence, and sends a messenger to notify Odin. Odin sends the Warriors Three to investigate. When they get there, the spell of silence has been dispelled, but Dazzler’s under a spell preventing her from doing anything to save herself. The Warriors drag the ladies back to Odin’s vizier. The vizier sets the two in a trial by combat.

Back on Earth, Ken’s freaking out about the fact that Dazzler’s missing.

Back in Asgard, the vizier dismisses the spell on Dazzler, and the Asgardians start making some noise. The fight’s kinda even, but it’s clear early on that Dazzler’s outmatched. Especially when she tries to fight the Enchantress hand-to-hand, and the Enchantress shows that she can crush rocks in her bare hands. I’ll confess, I always love seeing reminders of how powerful the gods are.

Anyway, Dazzler whips the drummers into a frenzy, which whips the crowd into a frenzy, which gives Dazzler tons of sound to work with. She dazzles the Enchantress. For a few seconds. Then she recovers and casts another spell on Dazzler which starts turning her into a being of light. Sadly, it’s during a time with no Star Trek on the air, so she’s unable to use this new change to further her career. On the plus side, Odin pops in to figure out what’s with all the light, noise and magic. He decides on a new competition between them – a singing competition.

And this scene kinda shows the limitations of a purely visual medium. Fingeroth describes how beautiful their songs are, but we can’t hear them. This whole series kinda suffers on that level. It’s a book about a singer. We’re reading about someone singing. That doesn’t really work. It’s a lot harder to really care about a singer’s career when we have no idea what she even sounds like.

Anyway, Odin declares Dazzler the winner, gives her  golden lyre, and sends her home. She meets back up with Ken, who’s upset at her not telling him what just happened.

It’s not too bad. I’ve said it before that this series was at its best when Dazzler was fighting people way out of her league. It adds a sense of absurdity to everything. And considering how weak everything else in this series is, that sense of absurdity is the only thing it had going for it. This issue falters by having the climax be a sing-off – that doesn’t work in print. You can’t tug people’s heartstrings with a description of a song. Truthfully, after 16 issues of having performances described, it’s gotten tiring. This issue just happened to be the point at which it became unbearable.

While I’m talking about Dazzler, she appeared in What If #34, by Danny Fingeroth and Mike Vosburg. The story was “What If Dazzler Had Become the Herald of Galactus?” First, a few pages explaining who Dazzler was, and setting up the events prior to the divergence. The divergence comes from Dazzler #11. In this version, Galactus banishes Terrax into the black hole (then why did you drag him out in the first place!), and Terrax loses his axe before entering it. Galactus then picks Dazzler as his new herald. She becomes the mistress of light, and starts roller-skating around the universe. She leads him to planets devoid of life. She accidentally leads him to a planet that has sentient life, but Galactus doesn’t devour it. He seems to have taken a liking to her. Eventually, she comes across an armada that has a weapon powered by Terrax’s ax. She’s hurt, and Galactus is pissed. The weapon has no effect on him, and he wipes out the armada with ease. Dazzler’s angry that he killed them all, and he releases her from his service. But since Earth has apparently become a barren wasteland over the last few centuries, she decides she may as well stick with Galactus after all.

It’s not a bad story. Not a great one, but not a bad one. I was never a big fan of What If. I’m also not that big on stories where someone manages to change Galactus’ behaviour, and reach into his dead heart and all that stuff. And Dazzler still wasn’t particularly compelling. So, it’s as meh as her own series was. Maybe slightly less meh, but not much.

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