Dazzler #3 (1981)

Dazzler #3 (May, 1981)
“The Jewels of Doom!”
Writer – Tom DeFalco
Pencils – John Romita, Jr. & Alan Kupperberg
Inks – Danny Bulandi & Armando Gil
Colors – Bob Sharen
Letters – Joe Rosen
Edits – Fingeroth, Jones, Shooter
Cover Price: 50¢

Ya know… I write a lot.

There’s some hackneyed saying about writers (though I wouldn’t describe myself as one), that they have so many “bad” pages in ’em before they finally “get it”… and everything just comes together. With me… I feel like it’s kind of the opposite.

It seems like the more I write, the less gooder I am become with my grasp of the English language. It might sound like I’m kidding… but, I assure you, I’m not. I literally sit here trying to think up the right words to use… many, many, many times every article. I don’t remember it ever being like that before. Maybe I’m losing my mind? Maybe I am become more dumber than was? I dunno… you be the judge… or something!

For now though, let’s Dazzle!

Today’s story opens with… Dazzler dropping a bunch of exposition. At least this time out, she’s just thinking all of it to herself, rather than saying it all out loud. Anyway, she’s getting bombarded by sound… which she is doing her darnedist to transmute into light. Turns out this is only a test… she’s dropped by the Baxter Building, and asked Reed to give her mutant powers a goo. Johnny is a bit annoyed, having assumed she was there only to see him. Worth noting, poor Ben Grimm is doing that thing he always seems to be doing at home… carrying something huge and heavy from ova here– to ova there. Wotta revoltin’ development.

Since this is a Marvel comic, and we’ve got some guest-stars… it’s not long before an outta nowhere action scene breaks out. Dazzled by the Dazzler, poor Ben drops the heavy whateverthehell on his favorite bunion — Johnny has a laugh before going to prove that Daz can’t do anything to best him — so, she skates over to a wall and procures a fire extinguisher to shut him up. Sue then appears right in Ali’s path, which sends her skidding off into Reed’s oversized rubbery mitt.

With all the tea kettles now settled, it’s time for us to find out what today’s issue is actually going to be about. Johnny spies something very troubling in the newspaper… turns out, Doctor Doom’s jewels (ew!) are going to be displayed at the United Nations. From here, we get a quick ‘n dirty retelling of the events of Fantastic Four #200 (November, 1978), wherein Prince Zorba Fortunov of the Latverian Freedom Fighters wrested the crown of Latveria from Doom. Doom lost his throne… and his marbles. And now, the FF are worried that this exhibit might draw him out of hiding.

After a somewhat flirtatious farewell between Dazz and “Torchy”, we shift scenes over to the United Nations, where the Doom Jewel Expo is about to begin. Latveria’s mustachioed ambassador to the U.N., Dr. Arturo Frazen is present. He finds this entire to-do to be a sham. He also considers Zorba to be a weak and ineffectual leader. He mentions something about the crown jewels winding up on the international market… though, I’m not totally clear here on whether that’s his goal… or his worry.

Over to Boss Hogg’s, where Dazz is given her next gig. Much to her annoyance, it’s a charity show for UNICEF. Now, she has no beef with the fine folks at UNICEF, it’s just that — she needs that chedda… she’s about to be booted from her pad. She’s also introduced to her new meathead manager, Lance Steele… who looks just as porny-creepy as his name might suggest. Lancelot tells Ali that they’ll get on swimmingly… so long as she obeys his orders. I guess when you rely on a dozen of your super-powered pals to bully a man into offering you a talent contract… maybe don’t expect to be given the cherriest of gigs?

With nowhere left to turn to, Alison decides to head home to visit (and attempt to make peace) with her father, Judge Carter Blaire. She is warmly met by Nana… and, initially, embraced by dad. That is, until she reveals that she’s not exactly here to beg for his forgiveness. She hasn’t changed her mind about going to law school, following in his footsteps, yadda, yadda, yadda. I’m not sure exactly what she’s here for… probably help with the rent, and some cold cuts to keep her half-eaten box of baking soda company in the fridge. He gives her the boot… again.

Well, at this point we’re eleven pages in… howsabout we get that dude from the cover into the story? We head over to a castle in the Bavarian Alps, where Doctor Doom is met by some red-cloaked messenger… who reveals that Zorba sent the crown jewels over to the United Nations… Doom’s not worried nor impressed. That is, until he finds out that the Merlin Stone was among them! Doom decides he must act.

We rejoin Arturo Frazen, who’s still gazing at the jewels at the U.N. As luck would have it, security is a bit lax right now, because… get this… that UNICEF concert is taking place right there! As the massive crowd begins to form, Frazen hires some goons in “punk rock attire” to help him swipe the loot. As the concert’s getting set up, Lancelot Steele is giving the orders backstage. Looks like nobody really cares for him… nor takes him seriously — and well, they probably shouldn’t.

After busting in on Dazz’s dressing room, where she hasn’t even had the chance to (literally) let her hair down yet, Lance spots the “Punk Rockers”… and decides he’s gonna serve up some knuckle sandwiches… no questions asked. Only, by the time he approaches them, he comes to find he’s far more outnumbered than he originally thought. He gets his ass kicked. Lucky for him, Dazzler overhears this beating… and she just so happens to have a new analog iPod with which to pump out some transmuted funk.

She skates over to the meathead’s rescue, PWAPing the baddies but good. Meanwhile, on stage — the show has already begun. We see Boss Hogg off to the side wondering where his “personable and proficient protégé” may have gotten off to. If you were to guess that Ali was in the middle of like a 75 page fight scene, you’d be getting warm.

Okay, okay… it’s more like a four page fight scene… but still, a tad bit too long in this idiot’s opinion. Anyway, once the “punk rockers” have been soundly thwarted… Ali gets zapped in her shoulder. This, as you might imagine, manages to get her attention. She turns around to see that she’s in the shadow of… DOOM. And, if the art here is to be believed, she’s the only thing standing between him and the nearest toilet… and, lemme tell ya — it’s an emergency!

Meanwhile, lotsa pieces are falling into… and out of place. Lance pulls himself to his feet… but is in too much pain to really do anything. On stage, the act before Dazzler is about to wrap up their set… and, thanks to Janine from Ghostbustas, Boss Hogg knows that neither Dazz nor her Lunkhead manager are around. Right then and there, Osgood announces that Dazzler is off the show… and will, ya know, never work in this town again. Worth noting, (I think that’s supposed to be) Johnny Storm is in the crowd waiting to see his new obsession in action.

Back to Dazz… as Doom, gentleman that he is, helps her to her feet so he can dollop some exposition into her dome. The Merlin Stone, ya see… is a gem (well, a collection of gems actually) imbued with some magical hoo-doo by the wizard Merlin himself to make its owner invincible. Doom had already sent the Fantastic Four back in time to track the jewels down… way back during his first appearance in Fantastic Four #5 (July, 1962). Only, rather than return to the present with them — the FF brought back only worthless chain.

In the interim, Doom was able to procure one of these gems… and also locate the second (in a nearby dimension). He assumes that with two of the Merlin Stones, it’ll be a cinch to track down the rest. As he goes to reclaim the one from the exhibit… Dazzler attempts to stop him! And so, well… you know… it’s time for a(nother) fight scene! Dazzler does manage to get a few good shots in… serving a whopper of a dropkick to go along with her light show. Ultimately, Doom wins… because, well, he’s Doom.

We wrap up with Doc loading Dazz onto his… frankly adorable little rocket sled/scooter… and flying into the night. He believes he might have use for her yet… and, perhaps we’ll find out exactly what that is… next time!

From the crem de la crem of Marvel’s heroic pantheon to… one of, if not the premiere villain in the universe. Dazzler just can’t help but to fail upwards, eh?

Still having a really good time with this. I feel like, maybe we’re overdoing it a tad with the action… perhaps even overcompensating with it. I wonder if there was a conscious decision to try and keep this book from being “too girly” or “too soapy”? I dunno about y’all, but… I mean, this is a character outta the X-Men… and, it didn’t get much soapier than that… I think I’d be okay with Dazzler following in that tone. We are getting bits and pieces of “soap”, in Ali’s relationship with her father… and her day-to-day financial woes, so that’s cool. It’s also still very early in the run, so — maybe the Bullpen is trying to establish the book in such a way where it’s not dismissed as “slice of life” fluff?

I dunno… I’m probably thinking too hard.

The story we did get here… to use a phrase I tend to overuse… was a bit Dagwood Sandwichy. Lotta moving parts… many of which felt kinda unnecessary. Arturo Frazen’s scenes were a bit confusing… his motivation wasn’t made clear (at least not to a dullard like me) until the end… and, I mean… the entire robbery attempt wound up being a non-issue page-waster anyway. I dunno, maybe next issue will see some more hot ‘n steamy Arturo and the Punk Rockers action?

The art was… uneven. Not bad… just not as good as it was in the first two issues. Romita’s pencils were not helped in any way by Bulandi’s inks… and the shift from John Jr. to Alan Kupperberg, while not jarring, was somewhat noticeable. It Marvel’s banking on Dazzler being their premiere Direct Market exclusive (for now), it’d probably be best to keep the artwork consistent, at least for the first half-dozen to a year’s worth of issues. At least in my opinion. Having multiple pencilers and inkers involved in a regular-sized issue reeks of running up against Dreaded Deadline Doom… and, makes the series feel like it’s an afterthought.

Perhaps I’m being a bit harsh, as… like I said, the art isn’t bad. But, for it only being the third issue… consistency needs to be key. Again, at least in my opinion.

Overall – another fun outing with Disco Dazz. I’m looking forward to seeing where this goes… and I hope you are as well!

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3 thoughts on “Dazzler #3 (1981)

  • May 9, 2022 at 9:48 am
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    I agree the moving art target is kinda hard to pin down a like or dislike necessarily. Dr Doom, already? (shakes head).

    Reply
  • May 9, 2022 at 5:03 pm
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    I guess the FF had to get their second guest appearance here since they missed out on issue 1.
    Marvel is really heavy loading this series with big time heroes and villains. First Dazzler battled the number one female villain Marvel had and now she takes on the biggest big bad that Marvel has. They really wanted this series to be a success.
    I can’t help but feel that Dazzler is seriously out of her league with the villains she has been put up against. The poor girl just wants to be a disco singer and she has the bad luck to run into two of Marvels biggest villains.
    But all things being equal each issue has had me wanting to come back for the next one, and that is the true mark of success. Get the reader to come back month after month and next thing you know your Spider-Man.
    I’m really enjoying this look back at Dazzler.

    Reply
  • May 13, 2022 at 9:27 am
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    It might be entirely in my head but try comparing that first picture of Lance Steel to the infamous Hunk of the Month picture of JRJR. I’m pretty sure that’s a self portrait.

    Continuing to enjoy this series of columns.

    Reply

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