Dazzler: The B-Sides

 

Bill Sienkiewicz Dazzler #29 - Arkham Comics 7 rue Broca 75005 ParisThe 1980s was the decade that took excess to the maximum. Neon-sprayed hair was jacked up to Jesus, shoulder pads were no longer just for football players, and the music was leagues beyond the tripe that currently clogs “Top Ten” Spotify playlists. From this shimmering era of cocaine and new wave synths came a superhero for the times. A beacon that descended like a glittering disco ball and quickly developed an unshakable fan base that still thrives to this day. Alison Blaire a.k.a. the mutant songbird known as Dazzler.

Unlike her genetically empowered counterparts, the X-Men, Alison was more concerned with furthering her career in music as opposed to heroism or contributing to the human/mutant cohabitation plight. She preferred to only use her powers of sound-to-light transduction to entertain audiences instead of proactively snuffing out criminal activity. This conflict would be part of the driving force for most of the Dazzler ongoing series that Marvel Comics published from 1981 through 1985.

Roughly thirty years later, the comic book market is seeing a massive influx of female-led titles and Alison Blaire is right in the thick of things as one of the prominent members of the all-female team, A-Force. With a fresh fashion makeover, several unresolved storylines, and a fantastic roster of potential co-stars, has the time has come for Marvel to flip the record to side B and give Dazzler a well-deserved encore?

What works so well for current titles like Patsy Walker a.k.a. Hellcat!Spider-Gwen, and Ms. Marvel is that the stories focus on standard super heroics while understanding that plots involving the character’s family life, career, and personal relationships are just as important to developing a solid and multilayered protagonist. While the book may have received its fair share of critical ire for doing so, Dazzler did not shy away from being one of the earliest titles to adapt such a storytelling method. One minute, Alison would be in recording contract negotiations and the next she would be two clicks away from becoming a herald of Galactus.

By applying a similar format, a second volume of Dazzler could easily thrive on today’s shelves and would be in fantastic company.

But, what could readers expect from a new Dazzler project?

The look: Kristafer Anka has knocked some character redesigns out of the park (see Madelyne Pryor’s Goblin-Queen-bustier-meets-Alexis-Carrington-power-bitch-pantsuit), but his shredded turtleneck dress design for Dazzler during Brian Michael Bendis’ run on Uncanny X-Men was not one of them.

Recently, A-Force artist, Ben Caldwell unveiled a fun-yet-edgy, indie pop look for Ms. Blair. With clothes that look like they were pulled from the closets of Sky Ferreira or Alexis Krauss and a pink-tipped platinum-blonde pompadour, Dazzler looks more modern than she has in decades.

2346230-1609535_best_friendsThe supporting cast: When it comes to potential supporting characters, Alison Blair has quite a roster of potential co-stars. During Matt Fraction’s run on Uncanny X-Men, she developed a close friendship with Jean-Paul Beaubier (Northstar) and Megan Gwynn (Pixie). Neither mutant is currently featured in any title and many fans would eagerly welcome both back into the fray.

Earth-12025_01Dazzler on-going series would be less dazzling without an appearance from her on-again/off-again beau, Longshot. During the finale of Peter David’s The End of X-Factor arc, the mystery of what really happened to Alison’s pregnancy was revealed along with the paradoxical lineage of Longshot and Shatterstar. The ensuing drama that would undoubtedly arise from Dazzler learning the truth is something that would fit perfectly into the book.

Acquaintances and teammates such as Tessa (Sage), Lila Cheney, and the bear couple of James Howlett and Hercules (X-Treme X-Men) should also be consider for guest slots.

1247034-mortis___dazzler_5The rogues: Lois London, the death-touch-dealing mutant, Mortis, was first introduced in Dazzler #22. Her contempt for Alison broiled over the years, off-panel, until she was re-introduced in 2009 as part of Selene’s inner circle during Necrosha. Following the Black Queen’s defeat, Lois teamed up with Arcade to take down Dazzler but ended up comatose following the battle. Sibling rivalry, at its finest, would be at the epicenter of the book.

Alison Blaire also had a contemptuous relationship with Amora the Enchantress that hearkened back to Dazzler #1 when the two faced off for a headlining gig at a New York City nightclub. The end result obviously left the Asgardian sorceress with an axe to grind against Alison.

1730735-dMost recently, Dazzler’s main nemesis was Mystique. During her time as the mutant liasion for S.H.I.E.L.D., Alison was kidnapped by the mutant shapeshifter and used to harvest MGH (Mutant Growth Hormone) for the depowered mutant residents of Madripoor. The lackluster confrontation between the two women during the final issues of Bendis’ Uncanny X-Men, left readers clamoring for more of a resolution.

The stories: In addition to unresolved threads regarding rivalries and family drama, the matter of Dazzler’s ability to resurrect herself has never been fully explained. First introduced under Chris Claremont’s pen and most recently addressed in G. Willow Wilson and Kelly Thompson’s A-Force, fans of speculated that this is either somehow connected directly to her mutant abilities or even to her journey through the Siege Perilous. A story this big, if the details are finally fleshed out, deserves the attention that only a solo series could deliver.

CZ6Ky9NUAAAoa-oThere is also the matter of Dazzler’s career. We have seen her try to tackle the late disco/early 80s pop genre and the techno/trance movement of the early 2000s. One can’t help but wonder how she would fair in modern times with YouTube, Spotify, and digital downloads.

Everyone knows that the b-side of a single is always better. Let’s give Dazzler another round on the turntable.

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