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Dazzler #20 (1982, October)

September 14, 2013

This issue sees the debut of two of the greatest villains ever, for “Out of the Past!”

Out of the Past!

Dazzler has no clue what she’s in for here.

We start inside the crazy mind of Dazzler’s father, where she threatens him, and tells him off for denying her all the things she wanted in life. Then we exit his mind, where he mumbles about being destroyed while his mother, a doctor and Angel all watch over him.

Meanwhile, Dazzler’s taking a walk through Central Park, where she gets mugged by some guy who tries to steal her brooch. She turns on her radio and blinds him, then sees that the brooch has opened up, with pictures of her father and another guy. Her friend, Vanessa, has also found a room in her vocal coach’s apartment, filled with Dazzler stuff. The plot thickens!

Dazzler reaches her bass player’s apartment, where the band is gathered, along with his wife and baby. She goes into another room to call Harry, and two guys bust into the apartment. These are the villains of the story, and they may be the greatest villains Dazzler ever faced – Dr. Sax and Johnny Guitar!

Turns out the band used to play with those two, but then stopped them from robbing some club. During the fight, Dr. Sax got his eyes burned with an acetlyne torch. The art in the flashback sequence is weak. Springer was never a particularly great artist, and he was especially weak at drawing action scenes. (Though he was better than his Invaders partner, Frank Robbins – that guy was terrible.) Anyway, after the two got out of prison, they went to Techmaster, who gave them some fancy equipment. Johnny Guitar shows off his guitar, which can smash things. Then Dr. Sax shows off his sax, which can manipulate emotions. He also got some glasses that let him see shapes.

Then we cut away to Vanessa and her coach, who explains that all the stuff belongs to her daughter in college. And Angel keeps looking for Dazzler.

Then back to the apartment, where Dazzler finally gets involved to stop Guitar and Sax. She skates past and grabs the baby, but then her skates and radio are destroyed. Johnny Guitar attacks with his guitar, but she just absorbs the sound and dazzles him. Dr. Sax uses his sax, but she uses a laser blast on it. Then she blinds him by splashing his goggles with coffee. Then she kicks him in the face.

Her band talks about how much they love her, blah blah, and Angel shows up to tell her about her father. And then we finish by cutting back to Vanessa and her coach, who admits that she’s Dazzler’s mother.

I love Johnny Guitar and Dr. Sax. They’re such stupid, lame villains that I can’t help but love them. They’re awful, and that makes them awful. Sadly, they never showed up again, until Avengers: The Initiative #27, by Christos Gage and Rafa Sandoval, which ended up being an incredibly touching story. Johnny Guitar got a fantastic death there.

The story of Dazzler’s father’s breakdown continues to be dull, and the reveal of Dazzler’s mother isn’t great, either. They’re just not very well-written. Dazzler’s internal argument about whether she’s willing to use her powers for anything other than performing was arguably even worse. She freaks out about using her powers to defend herself or her friends, and it just feels phony. Sadly, this series is going to keep getting worse from here.

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