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Dazzler: The Movie (1984, October)

October 21, 2014

Marvel’s January solicits are out. I’ll talk about them in my next pull list post. For today, though, we’ve got a big one. By Jim Shooter and Frank Springer, it’s “Dazzler: The Movie.”

Dazzler: The Movie

A very movie-poster cover. But kinda meh work from Sienkewicz.

We start at the health spa where Dazzler is leading an aerobics class. She gets carried away a bit, and starts to glow, until she overhears someone mentioning it. A husband and wife talk about her, with the wife saying every woman wants to look like her, and the husband saying every man wants to be with her. The wife says she understands. Anyway, all her students are exhausted, and Alison still looks great and energetic. Then she goes to lift weights, while one of the guys, Eric Beale, talks to her. He owns Beale Productions, and he wants to bang her. She says club employees can’t fraternize with members. While lifting weights, she talks to a guy named Freddie, then Eric Beale comes back in. He just bought the club. He says he’s gotten rid of the “no fraternizing” rule, is promoting her to assistant manager, and even offers to help her music career. She hands him her weight – 120lbs – and runs out with Freddie.

He drives her home, and she gives him a pep talk and a kiss. She goes in and turns on her radio and lets loose with some light, while wondering what sound feels like to normal people. It’s a neat line of thought she goes on, and explains why she loves music so much – it’s a pleasant physical sensation she gets from it. After a bath, she reads a newspaper and sees anti-mutant articles. She gets a call from Ororo, who’s laying on the couch at the mansion in a way that’s more appropriate for a teenage girl than for Storm. She mentions being worried for Alison. Then Alison gets ready for a small gig she’s got.

We go to Roman Nekoboh’s house. His latest floozie leaves, and Roman gets up and gets ready to meet the press. After Alison finishes her show, some reporters show up and ask her about Roman announcing that she’ll be his co-star in his new movie. She sneaks out, but because of all the reporters, she ends up having to walk home, where she finds Roman waiting for her. He starts forcing himself on her again, until they fall over, and she screams at him to leave.

The next day, as she’s walking, Roman drives up beside her and offers her a ride, and continually refuses to leave her alone. She blasts his tire and he spins out of control and slams into a wall. She’s briefly concerned, until she hears him talking about himself more. He chases her on foot, and fakes a heart attack to get her to stop. She finally concedes to a cup of coffee. He convinces her to be in his movie.

Now, I’m going to editorialize for a moment here. It’s on a topic I’ve discussed before in regards to Dazzler’s comic. The short version is: No fucking means no! Seriously, when a woman says she’s not interested, you respect her wishes. The whole “I won’t stop until you realize you love me” crap is reprehensible behaviour. When it comes to pursuing a woman, persistence is not a good trait. Respect what she says. But for some reason, in fiction, behaviour like Roman’s is treated as a positive thing. Roman is an arrogant, conceited asshole who doesn’t give two shits what women say, and doesn’t even care about something as basic as consent. He is not a character who should be portrayed in a positive manner, ever! And yet, characters like this do get portrayed in a positive manner, quite regularly. Dazzler already had a similar situation with Angel, who she started to have feelings for. And the same fucking thing happens here. She’s going to end up falling in love with Roman, even though she should’ve beat the shit out of him for his disgusting lack of respect for her. Part of the problem may have been the standards of the times. But I think another factor was the lack of women involved in this project. It was written by a man, drawn by a man, and had two men as editors. The only woman who worked on this book was the colourist. And I’m betting she probably wasn’t all that comfortable telling the Editor-In-Chief of Marvel Comics that she thought the story had some serious problems, and some really uncomfortable undertones that seemed to encourage not respecting a woman’s wishes. “Hey, guys! It doesn’t matter if a girl says no to you! If you’re a Nice Guy, then never give up! Just keep pursuing her, and eventually, she’ll see what a Nice Guy you really are, and she’ll fall in love with you!” It’s stupid, and it’s wrong, and it’s disgusting.

Anyway. Enough of that. For now. I may have to rant again later.

Roman takes Alison shopping. New clothes, new house, and more. Roman has trouble finding backers for his movie. Because Alison’s been seen in the past with the X-Men, backers are scared. A few days later, when looking at publicity photos, Alison kisses Roman. Argh! Rarflarghearghraaaaaaaah! Eric Beale decides to produce the movie. Roman throws a party to celebrate, and Alison sexes him up, because of course she does, he made jokes while trying to force himself on her so why the hell wouldn’t she fall in love with him aaaaaaaaarrrrrrgggghhh! But he’s “redeemed” because he doesn’t mind that she’s a mutant, so hey, he’s not a bad guy, even though he tried to force himself on her and refused to obey her when she told him “no” a thousand times before.

The next few weeks, Alison gets caught up in all the glamour. She starts becoming more and more like Roman’s public persona – partying, drinking, making stupid jokes. She even starts smoking. She sees herself in a mirror, and is shocked. She looks at herself naked in a mirror, and Roman bursts in and makes her aware that a newspaper has an article about her being a mutant. He leaked it to the press, as a publicity stunt. He tells her that when the movie hits it big, it’ll make mutants more acceptable, and also lets her know about a press conference where she’s going to display her powers.

The next evening, at an airport, the press conference is held. A couple planes start up their jet engines, and Alison absorbs the noise. She absorbs every bit of sound being made, making the whole area dead silent. She glows bright enough to be visible from space. And for her nipples to be visible through her bathing suit. When the engines are finally cut off, she feels different inside, and the crowd freaks out and runs away. At a nightclub, Alison and Roman are attacked by some thugs, with Alison chasing them off. Turns out she can store energy now.

The next day, she starts getting herself back in shape. Soon after, filming starts, with her doing an action scene, where she destroys some rocks to save a car. A news report has a guy criticizing mutants. The next scene we’re shown has her taking on a volcanic eruption. The protests get more severe, and Alison’s house is ransacked. Soon after that, Ali and Roman go for a private early screening of the movie, and they think it’s great. They’re attacked there, too. They escape, and Alison sends Roman away. He calls while she’s arguing with the theatre’s owner, and he gets her to go to Beale Productions.

Beale tells her that he’s pulling the plug on the movie. He also tells Alison that he’s been controlling Roman all along, including getting Roman to find out for sure if Alison was a mutant. Then he says he has the last surviving copy of the movie, and offers to release it, if she signs a contract with him. He wants to own her, though it’s no longer for sex, now it’s just business. She signs the contract. But she signs it, “Go suck an egg!” Then she decks Beale and incinerates the movie. She walks out of the office feeling pretty good, and even has some fun scaring the secretary with a quick “Boo!”

She and Roman head back to his house, and she tells him she’s leaving him. She doesn’t want to weigh him down, and she doesn’t want to succeed by riding on his coattails.

This is a major comic for Dazzler. It’s longer than usual, for one thing. But this has major repercussions on her solo comic, and changes the direction quite a bit. Not for the better, unfortunately, but that’s something to be talked about later. It also changes a little bit the way her power works. She can now store energy for later, which makes her a lot more powerful.

So it’s a major issue. Is it a good one? Not really. It’s of the same quality, more or less, as a normal Dazzler story. And that’s not a high quality. Shooter’s writing was pretty weak. It was too over-the-top, and it got annoying pretty fast. The script tried way too hard to be clever, and it came across as desperate and annoying, and even obnoxious. There was also the whole stupid crap with Dazzler falling in love with an obnoxious asshole who refused to take “no” for an answer. Seriously, Shooter, what the shit? I can give you a pass on Bruce Banner almost being raped by gay men in a YMCA. I can give you a pass on Pym slapping Janet. Even Avengers #200, I don’t hold against you (I hold it against the writers of the issue, and the editor in charge of it). But Roman’s behaviour, and the fact that it actually worked? Dude, no! Just no! No no no! That shit should not be put forward as the least bit acceptable. Refusing to leave a woman alone when she tells you to is not acceptable behaviour, and it shouldn’t be treated as though it is. The fact that Dazzler fell in love with him after the way he acted hurts her character. Argh!

Springer’s art is also weak. I’ve never found him to have been a particularly strong artist. It’s not that he was bad. It’s that he was very much a “house style” artist. There was nothing that really set it apart. He was competent, but unexceptional. This book’s no different, really. It’s maybe a bit more polished than usual, but not that much, and it’s still distinctly bland linework. The colours are maybe a bit glossier than usual. But that’s about it.

This comic was hyped a bit as changing things for mutants. It actually says, on the title page, “What happens next will affect every living mutant . . . forever. So, did it? Nope! Not really. This story does get referenced a few times, but not much actually changes in the X-Men comics. The anti-mutant hysteria doesn’t really become a notable focus for a little while yet, and it was something that Claremont had long since been building, so it doesn’t seem like this comic made much of an impact. So this graphic novel was distinctly meh all around.

Song of the day: Love Love by Amy MacDonald.

  1. Honestly, I almost didn’t finish it. I actually feel dirty having finished it. It was just disgusting. They took Alison from a character who sacrificed so much just because she really loved the thrill of entertaining a live audience to someone willing to let her own would-be rapist essentially buy her just so she could be in movies, something she never previously wanted. WTF?

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  1. Dazzler #41 (1986, January) | xmenxpert

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