Dazzler proves that disco will never die

Originally a superheroine intended as a marketing gimmick in 1980 with Casablanca Records (much like the band Kiss had been a cross-media sensation), Dazzler is an oddity to say the least. Blue face paint that would look more at home on a Kiss groupie than a superhero, a skin tight bell-bottomed one-piece outfit and rhinestoned roller skates… Dazzler makes an impression right off the bat.

The character was so dynamic and popular that she later resurfaced as a possible film project featuring ’10’ star Bo Derek (all true, check out the incredible story here).

Debuting in an issue of the X-Men drawn by John Byrne, Dazzler turned lots of heads and spun right out into her own series with the most impressive covers of the time. In case you missed her, full page ads appeared drawn by Bill Sienkewicz beckoning readers to buy her book.

With the mutant ability to convert sound into all manner of light, singer Alison Blaire turned her talents to a profitable musical career rather than crime fighting. When the X-Men sought her out for recruitment, she turned them down flat and who can blame her. Look at the lives those unlucky mutants lead! Given that she showed no real interest in the superhero bit, the Dazzler series mainly followed her real life affairs, career woes and love life. This may sound boring but it was all written to meet the demands of a readership that was eager for something new. After four years in her own book where she battled the likes of Doctor Doom and the Enchantress and even had a stint as the herald of Galactus, Alison Blaire hung up her skates and disappeared into obscurity. There was the occasional hiccup where Dazzler would appear, for instance in her own graphic novel, but her time has passed.

Much later, Dazzler returned in the pages of X-Men as a tarnished pop icon driven out of the spotlight due to prejudice against her being a mutant. Employed as a roadie to the musician Lila Cheney, Alison attempted to get her life back together before she was possessed by the evil entity Malice. The X-Men assisted Blaire in getting rid of the controlling entity and in gratitude, she became a member of the X-Men family, a status that she holds to this day.

30 years after her first appearance, Marvel Comics has decided to through Alison Blaire a party in their typical mighty manner.

Dazzler by Kalman Andrasofszky

After impressing readers with his stellar writing in the New Avengers: Reunion mini-series that firmly re-established the relationship between Hawkeye and Mockingbird, Jim McCann was offered a one-shot focused on Dazzler. After mulling it over to get just the right story, he teamed up with NYX’s Kalman Andrasofszky for what promises to be a great comic. Don’t believe me? As it turns out, writers were clamoring for a chance at Dazzler. An iconic character to many on the comic book realm, she embodies that turning point where comics began to develop sophisticated and complex personas. There’s also the disco thing.

Interviewed by ComicBookResources.com, McCann had a lot to say about the character: “…she has an incredibly iconic (if dated) look with the disco thing, and that is both a blessing and a curse. But I think the real reason is it’s the fact that she represents someone that is very relatable. She struggles in her career, her self-image, her love life, her place in the world, and the persecution that she’s gone through at other people’s hands just for being who she is. That’s a huge part. She is the mutant metaphor that translates to a lot of different minorities.

“All of that was addressed in her solo series- we got to see her day-to-day life, which was unusual for a lot of spandex characters (especially when that came with roller skates and disco balls). That “slice of life” aspect she brought to comics continued to be a part of the character through the 80s. She was sort of lost in the late 90s and much of the 2000s, but I think we’re starting to see more of that Alison a little more now.

“She’s strong willed, and that was shown from the first appearance. She turned down membership in the X-Men twice. It was that second time that made me fall completely in love with the character, in “Dazzler” #38. She kicks Wolverine and Colossus’ asses in a real-world training session and then basically says, “Ok, thanks guys! I’m ready to take on the world again. On my own. Call ya if I need help.” That’s my girl.”

Despite all of the accolades from myself and the comic book community, you may still think of Dazzler as a goofy hero out of her element (disco), but just look at Iron Fist, a hero who was created to cash in on the Kung Fu fad in the 1970’s. All it took was Ed Brubaker and Matt Fraction to retool Iron Fist into a fully rendered comic for readers to declare it a must read series.

You may be seeing similar reviews when Dazzler’s one-shot hits the stands in May.

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