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Dazzler #36 (1985, March)

January 5, 2015

Agent Carter starts up tomorrow. It should be great. But for today, by Linda Grant and Geof Isherwood, “The Human Touch.”

The Human Touch

This issue has an incredibly lame villain.

A woman is getting ready to sing at a club – Reilly’s Ace of Clubs – and the Tatterdemalion comes in and threatens her. Who’s the Tatterdemalion? Yeah, pretty much. He’s a character you don’t need to care about. She doesn’t sing. The next day, Alison goes to the club under a fake name, but the guy recognizes her, and doesn’t seem bothered by the fact that she’s a mutant. He wants to throw it up in her. She gets annoyed at his attitude, and starts to leave, but he tells her that singers keep leaving, so she’s got the job if she wants it. He introduces her to the piano player, Julia. After a couple lines, the guy is convinced she’s going to be a star. Julia gets annoyed and leaves. Alison’s friend, Janet, picks her up, and they talk about Julia, who was part of a husband-and-wife dance team who did some movies. As they’re stopped at a light, Tatterdemalion melts the two back tires, causing them to crash when they start going again. Janet goes to find a phone to call AAA, and Tatterdemalion knocks out Alison and drags her off.

Alison wakes up in a sewer, with the Tatterdemalion telling her to get out of town. She wants to know what his problem is, and he vows vengeance. She runs, and his rambling makes it clear he can’t tell the different singers apart. She blinds him, but he still chases her, until she manages to find a manhole cover with a city worker coming down. She climbs out, and makes her way back to Janet’s car.

Alison picks up a new dress, and on her way out, she sees Julia, and they go out for coffee. Julia talks about her movies and marriage with Michael, and explains that he wasn’t happy with a little success, and when he wasn’t able to get bigger roles, he had a friend set him up with a Vegas casino. The casino went under, and he disappeared. Alison feels bad for Julia.

Later on, the gig is interrupted by Tatterdemalion smashing in. He beats up the bouncers and rushes the stage. Before he can attack Alison, Julia asks him what he wants. They seem to recognize each other, and Tatterdemalion runs off. Alison chases him, using the music from a nearby rock club to power up. She blasts him, and then the music stops, leaving her empty. Then it starts up again, and she blasts him again, and thinks that she needs to get better about storing energy.

Alison drags Tatterdemalion into Julia’s dressing room, and it’s made explicit that he’s Michael. Alison decides not to call the police, and Julia decides to help Michael.

Meh. Not a bad issue, really. It’s actually along the lines of what the book should have been, with a focus on Alison’s attempts to make a career as a singer. (And unlike the past few issues, it is about he pursuing a singing career, not acting, or modeling, or anything else.) There is some commentary on Hollywood’s tendency to chew people up and spit them out. The problem is it’s all just kinda bland. I think there’s a little too much of the superhero stuff to the story. The scene in the sewers lasts a little too long, and too much focus is given to the Tatterdemalion, who really is an incredibly lame villain. Another problem, I think, is that this issue winds up feeling like filler. Grant and Isherwood only did this one issue, and are replaced for the next issue, and then another creative team after that. All these months of rotating creative teams hurts the book. Because it never gets a chance to have a real direction, everything feels a little pointless.

Grant’s writing is adequate, but nothing too exceptional. The same with Isherwood’s art. It’s all very standard mid-’80s comic book work. Nothing to elevate it to greatness, or drag it to outright badness. It’s not a bad issue – it commits the arguably worse sin of being utterly forgettable, in both writing and art. Grant didn’t do a lot of comic book writing, and was primarily an editor – in fact, while most of Marvel’s editors during Shooter’s tenure also wrote at least one monthly comic (I believe he had that in place as a rule, under the logic that it would allow editors to better relate to their writers), Grant seems to have been an exception, as she has less than a dozen writing credits to her name for Marvel (mostly an Indiana Jones series). Isherwood, of course, has had a very long career, but he never seems to have been a big-name artist.

Song of the day: When I Knew by Eleanor Friedberger.

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From → 1980s, 1985, Dazzler

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