X-Men Vignettes #37 (1989)
“Was Not What Will Be”
Writer – Fabian Nicieza
Pencils – Rick Leonardi
Inks – Bob McLeod
Letters – Joe Rosen
Colors – Mike Rockwitz
Edits – Edelman, Harras, DeFalco
From: Classic X-Men #37 (September, 1989)
How ya like that “cover” image, eh? Pretty pro-friggin-fessional, ain’t it? It goes to show that anybody with a fake-ass Photoshop program can make something passable. Speaking of which, I’m not sure there’s a program on the planet that’ll make discussing this story in the usual “CioIE style” work — because, it’s basically a dozen pages of annoying twentysomethings engaging in “deep” conversation…s. That’s right, we’re not going to be focusing much on any of these “intellectual” chats… we’re going to be bouncing around from subject to subject — which, don’t get me wrong, is what real people do — it just doesn’t really facilitate some idiot trying to synopsize it thirty-some years later.
Let’s give it a shot anyway, eh? Hey, at the very least this one’ll give everyone the opportunity to share their “unpopular opinion” that they think Dazzler’s a pretty cool character!
Our story opens with Disco Dazzler (it’s weird that they’re calling her that… in fact, even among her friends, she’s only referred to as “Disco”) wrapping up a gig at a… I dunno if it’s supposed to be a seedy place, or just a club that’s sorta-kinda behind the times. Sliding timelines being what they are, I can’t be totally sure when this story is/was taking place. Ali’s going to reference Ed Koch, who was Mayor of New York City from 1978… but, she’s also going to mention Ronald Reagan, who wasn’t sworn in as President until 1981. Though, it was just a passing reference… he could’ve still been a front-running candidate, I suppose. She and her intellectual pals also talk about the “Sins of the 80s” — Figure “safest” bet (as if it even matters in the slightest), is that this story is from 1980? Wow, now that was a waste of several sentences, wasn’t it? Anyway, she wraps up her set — checks in with “Gags”, the owner of the club… finds out it’s later than she thought it was, and bugs on out.
The next three pages feature Disco strappin’ on her skates and skitching all the way from the club in Brooklyn, across the bridge to the Nighthawk Diner in Manhattan. Skitching might not be the right term for it… as, growing up you’d “skitch” by holding on to the back of a car while the roads were icy… so, you’d kinda glide behind it. Ali though, has skates… so, she’s just rolling behind the various vehicles she’s bumper-tugging. Along the way, she gives us the quick ‘n dirty tour… pointing out the sorta stuff folks usually mention when they wanna make it clear that they’re “real” New Yawkas. She also stops a car full of a-hole kids from drinking and driving, so there’s that too.
She finally arrives at The Nighthawk… where we meet a trio of her friends. They’re “starving intellectuals”, all on the lower end of the socioeconomic spectrum, which they can’t help but to keep mentioning… but, also smarter than everybody else, which they also can’t help but to keep mentioning. You might be wondering why I have this weird kneejerk dislike for them… and, well — it’s probably because, back in my early 20s, I was them — and boy, I’d like to go back and kick myself in the nuts… cuz, I must’ve been prrrrrretty annoying. Disco sits with the crew, who call her out for always being late. Looks like they have a standing appointment for their mutual
irritation admiration society every Friday night. Oof, the poor diner staff… I can only imagine how they dread seeing these four. Though, I suppose they’re slightly better than having to pull intravenous drug users outta their bathroom stalls.
Anyway… the rest of the story is basically beboppin’ from discussion to discussion… even to the point where they seemingly run out of things to gab about. Like I said at the jump, this all feels very “real”… but, sadly, real doesn’t always equal “interesting”… and, this is not. I suppose I could talk a bit about Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks (1942) painting to vamp for word count? The diner in this story isn’t Nighthawks (well Phillies, actually — the diner in the painting isn’t called “Nighthawks”), though I’d guess that the use of the name is intentional to evoke that sorta vibe. Actually, I’m not gonna waste your time trying to talk about the painting… if you’re interested in some fun NYC history, here’s a link to someone trying to track down the actual diner.
One of the topics of conversation… the only one worth digging into, pertains to Alison’s mutant ability. Ali’s pals know she’s a mutant, and how she uses her lightshow powers as part of her stage act. The question is raised here as to whether or not Ali is wasting her “gift”. Rather than using what she can do to try and fight the good fight… she’s playing music that gets less trendy by the millisecond. Disco don’ wanna be no “stupidhero” though… she likes her life the way it is.
We wrap up with a shift change at The Nighthawk, and our know-nothing caucus given the boot. Ali skates away from her pals, vowing that she’ll never… eeeeeeever be a superhero.
Well that was whole lot of pages to say… not a whole lot.
This was one of those “pages in need of a story” situations, rather than a “story in need of pages”. Dazzler was “introduced” in the last issue of Classix, and so… I suppose it stands to reason that she’d get a one-off backup Vignette here. Gotta strike when the iron’s hot, am I right?
And, I suppose, as a “before they were stars” sorta look at her, this served its purpose. We know that Ali kinda got swept up into the superhero life… and didn’t immediately dig it. It was one of the things that made her unique… which, sadly wasn’t a trait that stuck around. Hell, nowadays, she’s doing the Krakoa thing like everybody else. Here we see her chatting up her pals about not wanting to be a superhero — I think one of them suggested she join the Avengers here. Ali ain’t too keen on that as, a) she thinks her powers aren’t suited for it, and b) she likes her life the way it is — or, was — back in the 70s. She doesn’t seem all that jazzed about the 1980s… which, the way it’s written, seems more due to the fact that Fabian Nicieza didn’t care much for Ronald Reagan.
Ali’s friends were… as mentioned… annoying. This entire scene reminded me of those little bits and pieces from Friends, where the gang would try and act like they’re deep intellectuals, rather than (do I use the word “privileged”) douchebags who can afford to live comfortably in one of the most expensive cities in the country who never seem to have to go to work. It’s insufferable to watch… and, not all that much fun to read.
Not to get too far into the weeds or anything… but, the “deep” discussions these goofs had here… while projecting this “starving intellectual” image. Like I said, back in my early twenties… this was me. It wasn’t until a handful of years later where I’d literally be starving. I wasn’t projecting anything. Thinking back to the days where I would pretend to be a philosophical man of culture… who was among the smartest in any room I occupied. Yeesh, like I said above – I’d like to kick that guy square in the nuts.
If you’ve ever taken a PSY class… and, this ain’t no attempt at “gatekeeping”, this is some of the most basic psyche stuff there is — this is 101 level, the kind of stuff even Tom King probably knows. If you’ve ever taken PSY101 (or done some surface-level research on the internet), you’ll likely have heard of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. If not, here it is:
Looking back at myself (and our quartet of goofs at The Nighthawk), sitting around and having intellectual discourse woefully worried about reaching your potential — with undertones of “secret superiority” (ie. anything you don’t achieve isn’t really your fault — because the entire system is against you, you see?) — the ability to worry about all’a that… relatively speaking, puts you pretty high up on the pyramid, dunnit? Like, tippity top tier! And while, yes, I’m clearly projecting here — it’s hard for me to really take these people seriously. As in, damn near every page of this made me roll my eyes. Not a fault of the story! If this were an episode of X-Lapsed, these are the sort of things we’d file under “Chris Problems”.
Hopefully you have a higher tolerance for this sort of thing than I do… but, even if you do — this still got far too many pages.