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Dazzler #35 (1985, January)

December 8, 2014

I was supposed to work today, with Saturday off, but I did a shift swap. So I worked Saturday and got today off. Today’s story, by Shooter and Springer, is “Brawl!”

Brawl!

Roller derby is the sport Dazzler was born to play.

Alison returns to the shitty apartment she lived in before that whole movie thing. She tries to call Storm, but doesn’t get an answer, so she instead decides to tape a message for her, as Shooter and Springer’s oh-so-clever way of recapping recent events. She’s interrupted when she hears someone in her apartment. It’s the couple she’s renting from, and they’re scared of her. They want to kick her out. But they heard her talking, and now they feel bad. They decide to let her stay.

The next day, she goes job-hunting, using her old clip-on skates to get around. She gets rejected everywhere she goes, as a result of being a mutant. One guy even threatens to bash her head in with a crowbar, which pisses her off enough for her to disintegrate it. That night, she tries one last place, a nightclub named Femmes. It’s a females-only bar. She gets hired on the spot as a waitress, and goes to get changed into uniform, where she meets a girl named Barb. Barb is short. This is important to remember, because holy shit does Shooter ever lay on the short jokes.

Alison goes about her shift, but gets momentarily distracted by “Jan Jackson and the Steel Tuna,” the band playing. Then the Racine Ramjets, a bunch of roller derby girls, enter the bar. They’re obnoxious. They order a bunch of drinks, and because Alison’s listening to the band, she mixes up the order a bit. One of the women reacts by pouring her drink on Alison’s head. Barb decides to take over the table. For the record, there is no frigging way these women wouldn’t be thrown out as soon as they pulled that shit. The women harass Barb, too. One even says she wants to take Barb home. I don’t know if Shooter was trying to imply the woman was a lesbian. If he was, then that’s pretty bad.

Anyway, Alison gets fed up with how the women are acting, and tells them to cut it out. One of the women throws Barb at Alison. Alison tries to lead Barb away, but the woman wants a fight, and attacks Alison. Bar brawl! Someone calls the cops, but they just laugh it off. Alison wins the fight, of course. Then she takes her rent money off one of the women. She tells Barb not to let people push her around, then she quits.

So, a few problems. First of all, it’s clearly a very nice club, so the way the roller derby women were behaving would never be accepted there. Any club worth going to is going to take care of its staff, and isn’t going to let harassment slide. Letting the women behave the way they did would hurt the bar’s reputation. So it simply defies belief that management wasn’t doing anything about it. I can accept a lot of things in my comics. But the most mundane elements are the ones that require the greatest authenticity. I can accept one woman beating up a half-dozen roller derby players. I cannot accept management at a popular, swanky club letting a half-dozen roller derby players act like obnoxious jackasses.

Ultimately, this story is a failure. It tries to be grounded and down-to-earth, but it botches the job horribly. Also, all the short jokes feel oddly mean-spirited when you realize they’re being written by a guy who’s 6’7″. Jim Shooter is a frigging giant. And yeah, he probably got tired of a lot of tall jokes, but it still doesn’t really feel right having him writing short jokes. The writing in general is over-the-top, especially Alison’s “lesson learned” bit at the end. I feel like the speech should’ve started with Alison saying “Dear Princess Celestia.” (Alternatively, it should’ve ended with either “And Knowing Is Half the Battle” or “The More You Know.”) It was cheesy, is what I’m saying.

Springer’s art sucked. It was bland and boring. Nothing at all interesting about it. Even the fighting was dull. This is his last issue, luckily. On a side note, I am so disappointed that Dazzler didn’t actually do any roller derby in this issue. It really is the perfect sport for her. She loves her roller blades, after all. If Gillen and McKelvie ever do a Dazzler series – which they should! – they need to have a roller derby issue.

Song of the day: Little Bit of Love by Katie Herzig.

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