The Essential Dazzler Vol. 1
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At Baltimore Comic-Con, I picked up The Essential Dazzler Vol. 1 because it was $5 and I like Dazzler.
This isn’t so much a review of that book — honestly, you probably already know if you’re someone who wants to read a lot of Dazzler or not. Nothing I could say could convince you otherwise.
Yes, these comics are fun — the stories are silly and without much consequence but the ridiculousness is spirited. I summarize this volume this way: In one issue, Dazzler goes to jail because she’s charged with “murdering” the villain Klaw (oh, don’t worry, she’s acquitted), but really, it’s just so she can fight the Grapplers. In case that’s not clear — there’s an entire sequence that is a fight in a women’s prison for no real reason other than it probably seemed like an awesome idea at the time.
Most of the title’s silly qualities come from the character of Dazzler herself. She was a character created by committee — a committee that basically gave up on her before the end of the process. Still, Marvel figured “We’ve already spent the money …” so they went ahead with the series. She was a disco singer who debuted at a point when no one cared about disco anymore (although the disco element was pretty quickly dropped). We are constantly told she’s an amazing singer even though we never get a good sense of what kind of music she likes to sing. She’s gorgeous and all the boys — including various superheroes — love her without question. She’s also really smart and was supposed to become a lawyer but she just wanted to sing! (I like how they use “lawyer” as code for “boring adult job that makes a lot of money.” After all, being a doctor is too noble and being a teacher doesn’t pay enough.)
She doesn’t want to be a heroine (I’d suggest a drinking game where you take a drink whenever Dazzler says some variation on “I am not a heroine! I just want to sing!” although I think that would get you very drunk very quickly, so it’s not a good idea) but is constantly saving the world or the universe. Or just a campus full of students. Her power is weak to start out (she can turn sound into light that, uh, confuses and disorients bad guys) before immediately swinging the other way, becoming excessively powerful (she can then store sound energy and release it as laser-like bursts or something. It’s explained constantly but I don’t know if I completely understand it).
Basically, Dazzler comes across like a character created by 14-year-old girls for other 14-year-old girls.
Still, she’s charming and independently-minded. Her dedication to her dream is admirable (she just wants to sing! you see). While her real-life problems — not having money, estrangement from her father — come across as pretty trivial matters (Dazzler needed some problems so she wouldn’t be too perfect), they’re still easy to relate to. I was amused by a lot of Dazzler for unintended reasons because this is a silly comic. Still, after a while, I found myself rooting for her and actually enjoying her adventures in a genuine way.
But I do think she needs to ditch those roller skates that magnetically attach to her shoes.
I know Dazzler is still hanging around the Marvel universe and has been involved with the X-Men recently. So while she’s never really gone away, I think she’s someone who could do with a revival. The idea of a pop star having to balance her career, love life and super powers is remains appealing. I think some out-of-continuity, standalone stories featuring Dazzler would be great fun. With current reference points in flashy pop stars like Lady Gaga and Ke$ha, I’m actually surprised no one has done this yet.
I am happy to see there is an Essential Dazzler Vol. 2. I may even pay more than $5 for it.