Of all the superheroes Marvel has created over the years, were created under stranger circumstances than Dazzler.
As chronicled by folks with a deeper love for this character (and I mean that in the most non-icky kind of way) than I will ever have, Dazzler began as a collaboration between Marvel and Casablanca Records in the 1970s. The idea was that Marvel would create a singing supehero character, Casablanca would find a real singer to fill the role and they’d make and cross-promote records, comics and even try to make a movie.
But having that many cooks meant there were many starts and stops on the project. Marvel’s then editor in chief Jim Shooter reportedly wrote a Dazzler movie treatment over a single weekend to try to make Casablanca happy. But things didn’t work out with Casablanca, and Marvel finally decided to put her out there as a guest star in a couple of top titles, namely The Uncanny X-Men #130-131 and The Amazing Spider-Man #203, before they gave her her own title about a year later. (BTW, the cover to that issue of Spider-Man was drawn by none other than Frank Miller. Also, the original art is currently for sale on eBay, though try not to gag at the asking price.)
Of course, by the time Dazzler #1 hit stands, the disco craze that inspired it was already dead and the character’s roller skates, disco slang and mirror-ball logo were instantly dated. Also, Marvel decided to make Dazzler its first comci book series to be distributed only in comic shops. The reasons for that aren’t clear, considering the character’s intended broad appeal should have been better served by the broader newsstand outlets. Either way, some 400,000 copies were pumped into comics shops — a sales figure that any publisher would absolutely kill for these days and a number that explains how I can buy this comic 29 years later for cover price at the Pasadena flea market.
The story itself isn’t that bad, though writer Tom DeFalco seems to go to great lengths to get wannabe singer Alison Blaire into the kind of trouble that requires superpowers to get out of. There’s also guest appearances from Spidey and the X-Men horned in here, too. The art’s decent but pretty dull, too — pencils were by John Romita Jr. before he’d really developed his own distinct style, with inks by Alfredo Alcala.
The villain of the piece was The Enchantress, who comes to Midgard and tries to take the singing gig Alison’s also trying out for. I don’t have a copy of Dazzler #2, but I really hope it’s a kind of superheroic proto-American Idol trashfest. I not only want to read that issue now, but I think I’d spend as much as 60 cents for a copy.
Who says comics aren’t cheap fun anymore?
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