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Dazzler #25 (1983, March)

June 20, 2014

And now to finish off March 1983, with a fill-in issue of Dazzler, by Steve Grant and Mark Bright. The story is titled “The Jagged Edge.”

The Jagged Edge

I’ll admit, I like the way the logo is shifted a bit. I like when covers play with their logos like that.

We start at a photo session, with Alison in a “buccaneer” look, with Lance pointing to Adam and the Ants as proof that it’s in. (Fun note: Adam and the Ants broke up in March 1982. This issue would’ve come out, probably, January 1983.) She goes to change, and Lance brings her a delivery. Some roses and a sweet note from a secret admirer. Ali thinks it’s nice, Lance warns her to be careful. Ali snaps that she swore not to let success change her, and to put her secret admirer on the pass list for that night’s show. Someone’s watching her through binoculars from across the street, and the guy then runs down to the street and back to his work, and we learn his name is Karl Fredericks. When he gets home, his mother expresses concern that he missed another appointment at the Veteran’s Hospital. Man, what a simpler time it must have been. These days, it takes a minor miracle just to get an appointment at a VA hospital. Anyway, Karl’s got a ton of guns in his room, along with a ton of Dazzler posters. He sees his uniform hanging in his closet, and he snaps at his mom and threatens to walk out on her.

That night, Karl goes to see Dazzler backstage, and asks her to dinner, and she agrees. They go to a nice dinner, he talks about his dad leaving while he was in ‘Nam, they get champagne. It’s a great evening. But then she has to go home and get some sleep, and he doesn’t want to let her, and tries to force himself on her, but she dazzles him, then gets in a cab and tells him to stay out of her life. I’m sure he’ll listen. He seems like a reasonable – oh, wait, no, he’s shouting that she’s his and no one else is going to have her.

The next day, when Alison gets to Osgood’s office, she finds it’s been ransacked, and he tells her nothing was stolen except the promotional pictures of her. But no alarm went off, which suggests he had a key. Then a call comes in for Dazzler, from Karl, apologizing for the office and promising to prove himself to her. Then his boss unplugs the phone and fires him, though Ali doesn’t hear that part. She’s shaken up and goes home, where she finds roses, and a note promising to “destroy the creep” who hurt Alison the most. She’s trying to figure out what to do, an the thought hits her that she’s seen him before, at the keyshop. When she gets there, his boss is laying on the floor with a gunshot wound.

Alison goes to Karl’s apartment, and his mother recognizes her as his fiance. We also find out Karl never went to Vietnam, and that his father didn’t walk out, he died. A gun’s been taken off the wall, and a clipbook has some pictures and articles of Alison’s father, with “MUST DIE!” scrawled on one of them. I wonder what it could mean. It seems pretty cryptic. Maybe it’s German? Anyway, she goes to her dad’s courthouse, and reaches him as he reaches his chambers, but Karl’s already there, and ready to kill a judge, inside a courthouse. Because he’s such a great planner. Dazzler manages to stop him, but he escapes. But now he hates her. Fans can be so fickle sometimes.

After her next show, he shows up to try to kill her. She fights him, and she has to smash her mirror to get enough sound to blast him. And then everyone arrives, after it’s all over. Obviously, they couldn’t arrive during the fight. That would be dangerous. She feels terrible about pushing him over the edge, and wonders if she’s going to have to spend the rest of her life wondering who she can trust.

This isn’t a bad issue. It’s a lot more straightforward than usual, being a done-in-one. It’s focused on the career side rather than the hero side, which is good. The series had become too focused on superheroics by this point, so getting an issue about Dazzler as a musician, and some comments on her rising star, were appreciated. I feel like drifting away from that had become a major mistake, and a major reason why the series continued to flounder. This issue also actually makes a couple wise choices in terms of how to handle the music aspects. A lot of issues dedicated fairly significant panel time to her performing, and occasionally performing original songs. This one had only a couple panels, and the lyrics were for existing songs that were at least moderately popular at the time (“Psycho Killer” by the Talking Heads at the first show, and “I Don’t Like Mondays” by the Boomtown Rats at the second one show). Most readers at the time would probably be able to hear the songs in their heads, which always helps, and it was only a line or two from each song anyway, so it doesn’t really matter if you’re not familiar with the songs.

The story is fairly standard for its type, but it’s not a type of story seen often in superhero comics. It’s your typical “obsessed fan threatens celebrity” story, a warning about the dangers of fame and all that. It wasn’t a new story in 1983, but I don’t know if it was ever a new story. It’s been done even more times since then, which removes even more of the power from this story. Also, the fact that she’s been fighting supervillains, and had just the previous issue survived another fight with Rogue, probably hurts the tension here. She’s fought an evil mutant who can throw cars, and now she’s menaced by some crazy jackass with a gun. However, Grant actually does a pretty good job still making it tense.

One thing that might’ve hurt was the art. It’s simply not sophisticated enough to be effective. Bright was a very talented artist, no question there. I just don’t think he was good enough for this story. It would’ve worked better with someone like Klaus Janson or Bill Sienkewicz – someone who does dark and tense really, really well. Mark Bright’s style was too light, too – and I hate to make this pun, but there’s no more appropriate word here – bright. The art wound up giving the story too normal, too casual a mood, when it needed something that made readers more unsettled.

Still, despite my complaints, this is probably the best issue in quite a while. I wonder how the book would’ve gone if Grant had been made the new writer. Unfortunately, he wasn’t, and the series didn’t go particularly well. In fact, after this issue, it actually changed to a bimonthly schedule – presumably, the sales just weren’t there to keep it monthly, but Marvel wasn’t ready to cancel it entirely.

On a side note, Bendis posted a new look for Dazzler, designed by Kris Anka. Check it out here. I’m sorry to say, I don’t like it. I just don’t think it works. I guess we’ll have to wait and see how it looks in the book, but based on that image, I’m not impressed. The holes in her clothes just look silly, and I’m not sold on the hair style or cut. I feel like Anka could’ve done better.

Also in March, in Marvel Fanfare #7, we got a fight between the Hulk and the Blob and Unus, by Steven Grant (him again!) and Joe Barney. The Blob is running a carnival, and Unus is by himself in the centre tent, his force field turned up too much for him to turn it off. The Blob is trying to help him. Hulk stumbles on the carnival, and fights them. He manages to hit Unus’ force field strong enough to turn it off. It’s a pretty good story. It’s fun. The second story, by Bill Mantlo and George Freeman, is cruel and evil and Mantlo should be ashamed of himself. It’s a Daredevil story, about him searching for a seeing-eye dog that ran away from an accident. It will make you cry if you read it.

And today’s awesome song is Gray or Blue by Jaymay.

  1. I’m not sure what I think of the new Dazzler look either. I’ll just wait and see.

    • I suppose it’s probably better than whatever Bachalo would’ve come up with. Kris Anka earned my respect with his redesign of Psylocke – her new outfit looks great. But based on the image we have, I think he may have fumbled a bit with Dazzler.

  2. G'kar permalink

    When I first saw Dazzler new outfit I didn’t like or dislike it, but a did get a good chuckle out of mostly be it made think of this “Punk is nothing but death and crime and the Rage of A Beast” anyway it’s not the worst thing ever but it could be better.

  3. Laura Ryerson permalink

    I have this comic in the wrapper anyone interested

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