Dazzler: The Movie (Marvel Graphic Novel #12)
Issue(s): Dazzler: The Movie (Marvel Graphic Novel #12)
As for his writing, well, i surprisingly enjoyed his first runs on the Avengers. And i've defended his Secret Wars. In fact i quite liked his Secret Wars.
That said, he's not a great writer. Marvel kind of blew an opportunity with its Graphic Novel and Epic lines. They should have been used to attract the truly A-list creators that you don't normally see in super-hero comics. The type of creators that eventually wound up at DC's Vertigo line, for example. Barring that, it should have been a more creative outlet for Marvel's top super-hero talent: Claremont, Byrne, Simonson, Byrne, Miller, Sienkiewicz, Stern, etc. Those types of creators did produce a number of books in these lines, but not as many as you'd think. Instead, it's surprising how many such books are written by the likes of Mantlo, DeMatteis, etc., as well as by people you think of more as editors than writers. But in most cases you can kind of figure out what the appeal was: sure the second graphic novel was written by way-past-his-prime Roy Thomas, but it was drawn by P. Craig Russell. Nobody's favorite Alan Zelenetz wrote graphic novel #15, but it had art by Charles Vess.
Before anyone jumps down my throat too much ("How dare you speak ill of Roy Thomas!"), just understand my point: these books shouldn't have been written by guys that were already known in the super-hero world. I'm saying attract Alan Moore to Marvel by giving him a book where he has complete creative control and owns the rights, and then say, "Oh by the way, while you're here, what do you think about a short stint on Dr. Strange?"
Eh, i'm sure they tried stuff like that. And looking over the details as i write this, it seems they actually did a little better than i'd realized. Oddly, the ones i often saw ads for in the super-hero books were, like Mantlo's Swashbucklers and DeMatteis' Moonshadow. Let's face it; those guys didn't need any special incentives to write Marvel books.
But the most bewildering effort is what we have write here: a Dazzler graphic novel. Drawn by the regular Dazzler art team. And written by the company's Editor in Chief, known better for his ability to make the trains run on time than his storytelling skills. I don't know if this was a vanity project or a case where there was a deadline and someone had to produce something for this issue. The next Graphic Novel issue was an all-reprint issue, which may suggest that they were having scheduling problems, but it was an all-reprint issue of stories from the arty Heavy Metal magazine, so the choice to reprint those may not have been deadline related.
To be fair, this story reaches for significance. The theme is ostensibly about discrimination: mutant rights. And being a non-code book, it can certainly get a lot more direct in showing the seedy side of the Hollywood world where Alison Blaire is attempting to make a career for herself as a singer. Whether that's artistic or exploitative, we'll see.
The little problem with this story is that the scripting is stilted, the art has no business being in a prestige format book, and the characterization is poor.
The big problem with the story is that, despite the writer's intention, the main character comes across looking like she's being exploited by a real slimeball who she nonetheless remains hopelessly in love with.
I guess let's start at the beginning.
Alison Blaire, the Dazzler, is still working as an aerobics instructor.
The above two images are copies of images from Dazzler #31. I can't call them swipes because it's the same creative team.
If i wanted to, i could fill this review with images of people wearing 1980s style exercise clothes. And i don't know if i'd be mocking the 80s or this book.
One of the students in her class, Eric Beale, is a millionaire, and he wants to date Alison, and won't take no for an answer (the image below is also repurposed from Dazzler #31).
He buys the aerobics club she works at for extra leverage, but she just quits.
Now, if you're a follower of the regular Dazzler comic, you know it seems to be a requirement that Alison has to strip down to her underwear every issue. Will that trend continue for this Graphic Novel? Of course.
After the striptease, she gets a call from Storm. Storm is worried about the anti-mutant sentiment that is sweeping the country, and thinks Dazzler would "be safer here in Westchester with us in our secret stronghold". It's kind of out of the blue. I guess it kind of ties in with the introduction of Senator Kelly's Mutant Affairs Control Act proposal in Uncanny X-Men #181. But really, there's nothing that's been going on in X-Men or the Dazzler comic that indicates that mutant hysteria has been getting worse.
Anyway, i love that image of Storm lounging on the couch while the other X-Men, in full uniform, stand at attention behind her waiting for her to get off the phone so they can go fight Magneto or whatever.
Dazzler rejects Storm's request. Meanwhile, we're introduced to the other major character in this book. Roman Nekoboh. He's actually appeared in the Dazzler comic before, recently. He's shown to be a bit of a fraud. By use of a girdle, false teeth, contacts, a toupee, and possibly platform shoes, he transforms himself from a fat old slob into a handsome show biz legend.
And he's a slimeball womanizer too.
There's an odd bit of slapstick comedy in his introduction scene that doesn't really fit in the book. Nekoboh examines his enormous gut in the mirror and decides he's out of shape. So he tells his butler to "do some calisthenics for me willya?". The Butler, in full tuxedo, complies.
It's like our comic has been temporarily taken over by the people who brought you Caddyshack or something. No other scene in this book uses that type of humor.
But let's not get distracted by that. While Nekobah is getting dressed, he's talking about Dazzler.
There's a girl I met recently.... Alison something or other--! The best looking dame ever!...I practically spent the whole day with here, and didn't get any action! She turned me down! Can you imagine that! I don't think that's ever happened before... I have to admit it, Zig. I'm enjoying a little challenge! It could be fun having a bit of chase before the score!
This is right after we see another woman leaving his bed, by the way. Reading that, the only reaction you can have is to say "Man, Dazzler's gonna put him in his place. No way she's sleeping with this slimeball." He's the bad guy of the book. Right?
Well after that, we have about 9 pages of him pursuing Alison. Blatantly.
By the 10th page, she's dating him. He's promised to put her in a movie, and he's buying her clothes and setting her up in a new apartment.
By now even Alison realizes that he has money problems and he's not likely to get a movie going. But she loooooves him so it's ok. Then he gets backing. From the guy who bought Alison's aerobics club. Beale.
The next thing you know, Dazzler is confirming to Nekoboh that she's a mutant. Demonstrating her powers. Her light show during her performances isn't a stage trick; her mutant powers create the lights. And then they sleep together.
There's a little arc where Alison goes through a phase where she's corrupted by the glamor of Hollywood. She gets snobby, stops working out, etc. Then she realizes what's going on and corrects her attitude. It's meant to be a nice moment, the redemption point, but the fact that she doesn't realize she's still being taken advantage of by the sleazy Nekoboh ruins it for me.
Then we find out Nekoboh has leaked the fact that Dazzler is a mutant to the press, trying to get publicity for the movie. He even arranges a press event where she demonstrates her powers. She goes along with it. Reluctantly. Adding to the humiliation, she for some reason has to strip down to her underwear for the demonstration.
Something happens to her powers during the demonstration. She absorbs more sound than ever before and something changes inside her.
Instead of just absorbing sound and immediately generating light, she can now store the energy up like a battery. Since there's always at least some noise, she's constantly charging and can basically shoot her lasers whenever she wants now.
We now get into the anti-mutant part of the book. Angry mobs attack Dazzler and places associated with her. Angry editorials on TV. Protests at her house.
It's not well written, but it's a good development for the Marvel line; something that's been missing in the X-Men book until now.
The anti-mutant sentiment focuses Dazzler further. She wants to use the movie to address mutant issues. And she wants to take more direct control of the production. Nekoboh is distant. My reading is that he's in this because he needs the money, but at this point he "scored" with Alison and is ready to move on. This panel, in particular, disgusts me.
Then it's all over. Eric Beale has been financing things only because he wants payback because Alison rejected him earlier. He's the one who made Nekoboh get evidence that Dazzler is a mutant.
And now he wants Dazzler to sign a contract so he can "own" her. Nekoboh has already signed his stuff away.
After she rejects Beale, Nekoboh shows up claiming he's gonna rip up his contract too. Dazzler tells him it's already done. He looks a little... disappointed?
But she's still swooning over him.
However, she does decide to part ways. My read is that she knows he's been exploiting her but doesn't want to admit it to herself. So, leave, but leave on amicable terms where you don't have to acknowledge that this jackass got exactly what he wanted by misleading her and taking advantage of her naivete.
Anyway, it ends with Alison feeling positive about herself.
As we'll see in the Beauty and the Beast mini-series that follows, her good feelings won't last long. Wasn't the intention, but i see her down-in-the-dumps status at the beginning of that series being due to the fact that she's stopped lying to herself about what happened here.
So Shooter wanted to write a story about a girl who starts off naive but stands up for herself when she learns the truth about Hollywood, but i see a story where the main character becomes a slimy guy's chippie for a while until he gets bored of her.
Quality Rating: D
Chronological Placement Considerations: Takes place after the X-Men return from Japan in Uncanny X-Men #181. Cyclops has a non-speaking role in this book. Cyclops! Last we saw, the Beyonder dropped him back in Tahiti with his wife in Uncanny X-Men #181 after Secret Wars. I was ready to say that this Cyclops is actually a robot that the X-Men intend to carry to the Danger Room for a training sequence. But the MCP dutifully sticks him here after issue #181 (specifically, all the X-Men appear here after UX #183). I guess after getting back from Secret Wars, Cyclops packed up his honeymoon gear and headed to the X-Mansion to make sure everyone else got home ok, and then left for Alaska to get home in time to answer the phone in Uncanny X-Men #185.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (17): show
Roman Nekoboh is "Namor Hoboken" backwards; I guess that's where the Sub-Mariner first invaded New York in 1939. 1984 readers got puzzled by the name as well.
Dazzler appears to be talking to her boobs in that mirror scene.
This graphic novel had been promised to readers for quite a while, and when it finally came out after lengthy delays, the critics savaged it. They declared in was "Marvel taking on sex" and handling it really clumsily.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | October 9, 2011 1:47 AM
This was first announced in early 1983 as the same time as the Beauty & Beast mini-series. It's likely there was no attempt to update the writing to mid-1984 continuity(which would still have kept continuity with the mini, but not with Dr. Doom).
Posted by: Mark Drummond | June 16, 2013 5:21 PM
So it's The Lonely Lady with superpowers.
What makes this issues take place after Uncanny #181? Uncannyxmen.net hypothesizes that this took place somewhere between the end of Uncanny #173 and Uncanny #175. That sounds like a that would be s good place for this since it gives a more plausible explanation for Cyclops.
Posted by: Jon Dubya | September 20, 2014 6:15 PM
The Graphic Novel takes place after Dazzler 32, which takes place after Avengers 238. Avengers 238 ends with the Avengers going to California to save Jessica Drew from Morgan Le Fey. They get back in Avengers 242, throw a party to celebrate Clint and Bobbi's wedding and go directly from there to Secret Wars. IOW, Avengers 238 takes place very shortly before Secret Wars, when Scott and Maddie would have been honeymooning.
Posted by: Michael | September 20, 2014 6:43 PM
My main issue with this graphic novel (quality aside), is it completely negates Dazzler having a comic book.
If the only important development that is going to be done with the character is done as a graphic novel, then what is the point of her having an on-going series?
Posted by: AF | February 7, 2016 12:39 PM
Because Dazzler is a totally commercial character.
I don't really get the point either, but it makes sense for Dazzler, for Marvel at this point in time, and for comics in general that after several years of build-up, she was supposed to be presented in all her glory. And then fade away because this was the result, and she'll never get any further than this.
Look at the music charts from your teens and twenties. How many stars can you see who fell from their Number One Songs or successful tours to actually make a career in the long run? Not many of them. Now imagine that any of them were actually Alison Blaire. She's stuck doing superhero things that she really hates doing (but does anyway because she's awesome) and trying to be famous (but only on her own terms because she's awesome) and losing as often as she wins.
You're right, this graphic novel makes no sense as far as "Dazzler: The Series" exists. If it came along a few years later, it would be understandable. But incorporated into the regular series by the regular creative team, it's just stupid and pointless.
Posted by: ChrisW | February 12, 2016 8:46 AM
I'm not pretending I can draw or letter a comic, but I have finally figured out how to put my Dazzler comic online. Here is the link to Page 1, keep moving the cursor to the left, and I will put the remaining two-thirds online soon. And I'm providing commentary.
Posted by: ChrisW | February 19, 2016 3:54 AM
To be fair, AF, this also has "important developments" for the entire X-Men line as well, as Fnord mentioned above (Again it cracks me up that the rest of the Marvel Universe just shrugged at these developments, even though the Avengers sometimes has mutant members and the F4 has a mutant son. And they might worry that a discriminatory public might eventually then turn on them...which DID end up happening. And of course, as "do-godders" they might cringe at innocent people being threatened and hurt.)
Ironically enough the art looks like the style that would be used in early issues of Harbinger.
Posted by: Jon Dubya | February 8, 2017 8:44 AM
We just joked with a friend, who is currently reading Watchmen (and I was reading this novel, on my phone), that this and Watchmen is two sides of 80s comics.
Watchmen came 2 years after this. Both books featured rape attempts, where the victim eventually came to forgive and even love her attacker. And the sleazy attacker ends up being a good guy.
However, Dazzler the Movie and Watchmen have very different attitude, let's say. :)
In other words - this was so damn bad.
Posted by: Karel | November 6, 2017 5:01 PM
Recently people have been insulting, um, I mean discussing this graphic novel on the Back Issue Magazine group on Facebook. Someone there suggested that the reason why Roman's last name is Hoboken spelled backwards is because Roman is supposed to be a parody of Frank Sinatra, who was born there.
One especially odd thing about this book is that even though it's awful it has an incredibly beautiful painted cover by Bill Sienkiewicz...
Sometimes I suspect the saying "You can't judge a book by its cover" was coined by comic fans who bought books in the early 1980s with amazing Sienkiewicz covers only to discover the interior story & art were terribly disappointing.
Posted by: Ben Herman | January 14, 2018 1:00 PM
One of the blogs I follow has a new piece up which is titled “Is There Anything Left to be Shattered?”: Reading Dazzler in the #MeToo Moment...
For a really awful graphic novel, Dazzer: The Movie really has generated a lot of discussion over the years. I suppose it's sometimes more fun to talk about the train wrecks than it is the masterpieces.
Posted by: Ben Herman | April 10, 2018 1:39 PM
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