Entry 058 – Dazzler

Art by Bill Sienkiewicz

  • Name: Alison Blaire
  • Code Names: Dazzler
  • First Appearance: Uncanny X-Men #130 (Feb ’80)
  • Powers: Turns sound into light
  • Teams Affiliation: X-Men, Excalibur

About

In 2014, writer Kieron Gillen and artist Jamie McKelvie released a new series called The Wicked + The Divine. It tells the story of twelve reincarnated gods, given shape in the form of pop stars. Like much of the duo’s work, it draws parallels from the power of music to the life of a superhuman figure. Musicians have their own sense of mythology, the ability to create something that moves an audience, they are larger than life figures dropped into reality. It isn’t hard to see the parallels from the far out costumes of Lady Gaga or Slipknot to the yellow spandex of the X-Men. The irony is that music is the one thing comics can’t recreate. Still, there is a bizarre intersection, a focal point in comics were the lights and sounds combine with the words and pictures of comics, and sitting square in that intersection is Dazzler.

Before we can talk about Dazzler in-universe, we need to understand the circumstances of her creation. In the late 70’s, few brands were as big as KISS. The makeup covered rockers were everywhere and their label Casablanca Records wanted to recreate the success with a different audience. The concept was this, Casablanca would provide a singer, Marvel would provide a comic series, and the studio Filmworks would make a movie. The heroine would be a mutant with the power to make you tell the truth, the called her The Disco Queen, and John Romita, Jr. based her after triple threat Grace Jones. Tom DeFlaco hated the power set and suggested a more fitting ability, Roger Stern hated the name and suggested Dazzler, and Filmworks wanted the design to be more like Bo Derek.  With disco dying off, Casablanca and Filmworks both pulled out of the project but Marvel was proud of the character and didn’t want to waste all the work. Divorced from almost every initial intention, Dazzler was born.

Art by John Romita Jr.

Alison Blaire discovered she was a mutant while performing at her high school talent show. The crowd though the vibrant lights and colors were all just part of the performance, but Ali knew better and kept the powers secret. She kept playing music while attending a pre-law program in college and when she graduated, her father expected her to continue onto getting her JD. Alison was tired of repressing her dreams and abilities, she was a free spirit and wanted to follow her dreams. In the face of her father’s objections, Alison pursued music. With bold face paint, a mirror ball pendant, roller skates, and a striking white jumpsuit, Alison set out to become a star.

Art by John Romita Jr, Alfreso Alcala, and Glynis Wein

While she struggled to find success, Ali became an underground sensation. She could only get gigs in seedy clubs and run down bars, but up on stage she shined bright. Dazzler used her mutant gifts to turn every performance into a laser light show that matched the intensity of her voice. This eventually drew the attention of Cerebro, and Charles Xavier dispatched a team of X-Men to recruit Ali to their cause. While she didn’t want to give up her blossoming career to fight for a world that feared and hated her, she did help them take down Emma Frost. That networking paid off when she heard from Beast about an opening at a nightclub for an entertainer. That gig would lead to Dazzler getting a manager and see her fame rocket sky high.

Art by John Bryne, Terry Austin, and Glynis Wein

 

Dazzler alternated between a career as a rising star and battling that many super powered beings she ran into along the way. During her long solo run she defeated Dr. Doom, stopped the Hulk from ruining her concert, absorbed Klaw, became a herald of Galactus, rejected membership into the Avengers, had an affair with Angel, absorbed and redirected one of Black Bolt’s screams, discovered her secret, evil, half-sister, mended relations with her estranged mother, and developed a rivalry with Rogue. Eventually, she got a movie deal, but it fell through when she was outed as a mutant. Depressed with the downward spiral of her career, Alison was caught unawares as she was drafted into an underground mutant gladiatorial arena. Though her wild side overtook her for a time, she and Beast were able to shut down the corrupt blood sport. Dazzler was able to find a friend in fellow mutant musician Lila Cheney and joined her band as a keyboardist and backup singer.

Art by Frank Springer, Vince Colletta, and Don Warfield

Alison found that life outside the limelight was harder than she expected and jealousy grabbed the attention of the Marauder Malice. Malice possessed Dazzler in a ploy to expose the X-Men, and the mutants played into her hand. They were able to free Dazzler and reminded her of their open offer. After years on her own, Alison Blaire was finally an X-Man. She found it difficult to transition from her solo act to team dynamic of the X-Men, especially with Rogue among their number, but after a battle with the Juggernaut (who was a big fan of hers) she began to find her place. She sacrificed herself alongside her fellow X-Men at Eagle Plaza and thrived in the sun of the Outback. She quickly became the fun, quirky, heart of the team and even found some romance in Longshot. The fun, however, couldn’t last long. Psylocke forced her fellow X-Men through the Siege Perilous and Alison Blaire woke on the doorstep of Lila Cheney without any memories.

Art by Jackson Guice, Steve Leialoha, and Glynis Oliver

Lila and her bodyguard Strong Guy tried to help their friend but Ali couldn’t remember a thing. Luckily, Longshot fell back into her life and things started to fall into place. She joined him in his home dimension of Mojoworld and helped him overthrow the oppressive Spineless Ones alongside the X-Men. Dazzler found herself pregnant and decided to stay in Mojoworld with Longshot to raise their child. Due to a retcon that was bizarre even for comics, Alison thought she lost her child (who was really Shatterstar who was really a time displaced genetic clone of Longshot and don’t think about it too hard). To help her heal from the tragedy, Dazzler took in the X-Babies to be raised as her own.

Art by Jim Lee, Bob Wiacek, and Marie Javins

After long, Mojoworld was overthrown (again) and Dazzler returned to performing. It was at one of her performances where an evil alternate reality Jean Grey attacked and killed her. It didn’t take, but the attack attracted the attention of some of her fellow heroes who she teamed up with as a new Excalibur. Twice more with the team, Dazzler was killed but came back like nothing happened without any explanation. While with the team she found Longshot, but her lover had lost his memories, as he is want to do. The two tried to rekindle their romance but something was missing and they agreed that it wasn’t going to work anymore.

Art by Michael Ryan, Rick Ketcham, and Pete Pantazis

The remaining X-Men relocated to San Francisco, and Dazzler joined them. In the city, and later on Utopia, she thrived. Dazzler began performing again and became close friends with Northstar and Pixie. She often led patrols of the city and Cyclops was impressed by her leadership. He recruited her to open a Ghost Box but she was pulled into the dimension it linked to. There she joined General James Howlett, his lover Hercules, a teenage Kurt Waggoner, Sage, a floating head Xavier, and a Civil War era former slave turned Union Corporal Scott Summers, among others, on a quest across the multiverse to kill ten evil Xaviers. After completing her mission, and saving the multiverse from extermination, Ali returned home.

Art by Kalman Andrasofszky

In her absence, a few mutants might of, sorta taken over the world for a little bit which SHIELD did not approve of. Director Maria Hill approached Dazzler and offered her the role of SHIELD liaison to the mutant community, which Ali accepted. Not long after, Mystique drugged and kidnapped Dazzler right out of her helicarrier. She awoke looking at the stony visage of Magneto, she was strapped to a table and her whole body was sore. Magneto explained that Mystique had captured Dazzler and was using her to farm Mutant Growth Hormone. Alison did not take the news well. She joined Cyclops’ X-Men, cut her hair, and vowed revenge on Mystique. With the help of Goldballs and the other students of the New Xavier Academy, she ambushed the shape changer and put her out of commission.

Art by Kris Anka and Marte Gracia

Months later Dazzler was found skating roller derby by the entity Singularity. Singularity claimed that she and Dazzler were teammates in a place called Arcadia. Ali had no recollection of this, as it turned out it was a different version of her from Battleworld but Dazzler was still convinced to follow her. She helped establish A-Force and was instrumental in stopping Antimatter. Dazzler, like many mutants, suffered from M-Pox, but her still unexplained inability to die kept her mostly stable. She had grown leaps and bounds in the years since just being a disco star, both in strength and in personality. When team mates Captain Marvel and Medusa wanted to imprison Nico Minoru for a crime she was predicted to commit, Dazzler was to first to defend the witch. That stand against the Inhumans wouldn’t be her last. The X-Men unleashed their master plan to take the Inhumans off the table while they destroyed the deadly Terrigen Cloud and Dazzler had one of the biggest jobs of all. She infiltrated The Silent Room, Black Bolt’s night club and took down the Inhuman king without breaking a sweat. Not bad for a character created to be the next KISS.

Art by Leinil Francis Yu, Gerry Alanguilan, and David Curiel

Must Read

So you want to read some Dazzler? First, you need some background music.

Next you need to grab Greg Pak’s X-Treme X-Men. It’s a fun universe hopping adventure that really deepens Alison as a character. It is only a handful of issues but it turns her from someone who is often considered a joke to a hardened leader without sacrificing what makes her great. Check out the couple of trades or read the whole series on Marvel Unlimited.

Art by Stephanie Hans

Ranking

Dazzler is a character I really like, but I don’t love. I was stoked by the rumors that Taylor Swift would cameo as the character in X-Men Apocalypse, but I wasn’t crushed when she didn’t make the final product. I like her a ton more than her beau Longshot but I am more excited that a character like M is getting a lot of attention these days. I am more interested in Dazzler stories than I am Arcade stories, but I think Kid Omega edges her out. That puts her as the new 21 in the Xavier Files.

Dazzler was requested by /u/MengtheBarbarian from Reddit. Thanks for the request! If you have a request just submit it at the bottom of this article and I will add it to the list that currently stretches into June 2018! If you want to cut to the front of the line, we have a Patreon if you want to support it and get a line cutting reward for just a $1 pledge. We just hit our 2nd goal and now I guess I am reviewing X-Books so that will be coming soon. Oh and we also have exclusive physical items so check those out!

Click here if you want to see the full ranked list, with links to every entry in the Xavier Files so far.

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Next week I know one user has been harassing me to get to Ink so we are going to! See you then

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