COMIC BOOK REVIEW: Dazzler X-Song #1 (One-Shot)

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Dazzler X-Song #1
Writer: Magdalene Visaggio
Artist: Laura Braga
Color Artists: Rachelle Rosenberg
Letterer: VC’s Joe Sabino
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Artists: Elizabeth Torque & Ian Herring
Variant covers by Bill Sienkiewicz and Mike McKone

Review Written by Michael Anderson

What You Need to Know:

Alison Blaire is a mutant who transduces sound to light. As her stage name Dazzler suggests, she can truly dazzle not only an audience while performing, but her enemies in battle. Throughout the years, Dazzler has had a love-hate relationship with the responsibility of using her powers to help others. While she cherishes and desires to entertain those around her, she is also a selfless hero. Over the years she has been a long-standing member of the X-Men and New Excalibur; led her own multiverse hopping team of X-Treme X-Men, became an agent of SHIELD, and most recently a member of A-Force. Since leaving A-Force, Dazzler is again focusing on rebuilding her career. Although faced with personal tragedy time and time again, Dazzler always remembers to face her fears to “Go For It!”

What You’ll Find Out:

Dazzler is currently performing in a band called “Lightbringr and the Snikts”, appearing at the Hologram in Brooklyn. While she sets up and conducts a sound check with her bandmate Farley, her Inhuman fans, Nora and Zee, get ready for the show. When Nora and Zee arrive, they are met with hostility from mutants attending the show. Nora notes that the night is about “empowerment, mutant, inhuman or whatever…” When Dazzler takes the stage, she cheers “This is Mutant pride! Inhuman Solidarity!”  As the performance erupts, Nora dances and unleashes her light burst powers.

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After the show, Dazzler is at her band van and discussing her recent life choices regarding her career with Colossus, who asks her if she will come back to the X-Men as they are rebuilding. Dazzler jokes with him repeatedly, offering Colossus a CD (which he already has), and a band tee shirt. Piotr noticed Dazzler is in possession of a “Mjolnir”, in particular, the hammer of Dazzler-Thor. Alison advises him that she is no longer going by the stage name “Dazzler”, and declines his offer to return to the X-Men by stating “The X-Men were a rebound from a failed pop music debut.” Piotr and Alison embrace.

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Also outside after the show, Nora and Zee are confronted by 4 mutants, telling the women that Inhumans are not welcome at Dazzler’s mutant concerts. Dazzler appears and takes out all three of the mutants with her light powers; advising that there will be no anti-Inhuman nonsense. The 4 mutants retreat, and Nora and Zee tell Dazzler that the group of mutants are “militant about keeping Inhumans out of mutants spaces and that they’ll be at every one of your shows”, to her chagrin.

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Dazzler continues to perform. When she meets and signs an autograph for a young boy, a male mutant confronts Dazzler for treating Inhumans like mutants. Dazzler responds with a short retort and leaves. While driving with Farley, Dazzler talks about not wanting to be a hero anymore; she wants to make music, to which Farley responds that nobody quits being a superhero for good and she will be “wearing spandex again eventually.”

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The next day/evening, Nora and Zee are walking past a long line to get into another concert, when Nora is attacked by the same male mutant who led the group confronting them previously. When Nora is attacked, she attempts to use her light powers; however, cannot because of a power dampener. Dazzler again jumps in; using what appears to be solid photon assisted punches to take out the male mutant. When he responds that he is doing what he is doing to keep mutants safe, Dazzler asks the women to sing to fuel her powers. She is rewarded with sufficient sound to transduce to light and take out the 4 mutants again. Her final message to the men being “If you so much as look at anybody funny, I will unleash every ounce of mutant power I possess onto your bigoted little butts.” Dazzler again blasts the men and is backed up by a large group on Inhumans. Dazzler performs again and sends a uniting message to the audience.

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Dazzler is visited by Colossus again after the concert, asking her to reconsider joining the X-Men. Dazzler tells him of her week, and that in the past week she has been fighting for the world and it felt good. Colossus gives Dazzler what appears to be a secret X-Men communication device, and embraces her. As he walks away, Alison thinks about her, past, her present, and resents being told that because she powers she is supposed to be a hero. Her final thought is that they all have to be each other’s heroes, and “We have to stand together because we will always stand apart. And that. Is. That.”

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What Just Happened?

First thing is first: we have not seen Alison Blaire in about a year (other than small cameo appearances), so it is always refreshing to give her the spotlight, pun intended. While some would have preferred her to have a mini-series or an ongoing title instead of another one shot (the previous being a Necrosha tie-in from 2010), it was not in the cards this time around.

Visaggio handled this issue well, weaving strong themes and strong inter-character moments throughout. This issue tackled themes that are both timely and ongoing in Dazzler’s life: bigotry and the struggle between her music career and being a hero. Alison has almost constantly faced these issues since she discovered she was a mutant; since WAY back in solo series (42 issues; holding the record for longest running solo female mutant comic title!). She has also been the target of discrimination and hatred after being publically outed in “Dazzler” The Movie”.  These themes were woven into this story effortlessly; the hatred of the mutants from the Inhumans and Dazzler being forced to handle the violent situations as a hero were addressed throughout and in a simple nonheavy-handed way.

While this story seemed fairly small in scale, it hit the right notes and emphasized moving Dazzler forward and back with the X-Men (as we will see in “Astonishing X-Men” beginning with issue 14). The moments between Dazzler and Colossus were touching and effective; each time they embraced should remind readers of the embrace they had in “Uncanny X-Men #251” before they went through the Siege Perilous to escape the Reavers. The issue was also peppered with winks and nudges to dazzler fans, such as seeing Dazzler-Thor’s Lightbringr hammer, Dazzler herself being called “Lightbringr” in her band, and the name of the venue being named ‘Hologram”.

The dialogue was mostly spot on; Dazzler continues to make jokes and at times at her own expense, and puts forth serious grit and fortitude when the situation calls for it. My only concern was when Dazzler tells Colossus “The X-Men were a rebound from a failed pop music debut.” This small statement seems to throw away all of the years and relationship building she had with the X-Men in the 80’s, then the Utopia days and beyond. She contributed lot more than just being there as a second choice option to her music career. While yes, her music career crashed and burned and she was forced to join the X-Men after the Marauder Malice attacked her, she chose to stay with the team and chose to return years later, where she led her own “X-Treme X-Men” team across the multiverse. Or was this Dazzler simply justifying why she is not going back to the hero biz or playing down the importance of her heroism as she often does?

The art by Braga was clean and sharp, and the style worked incredibly well for this small-scale human-focused story. Dazzler’s new look, after having a partially shaved head in “A-Force”, is a nice compromise between her disco, Outback, and more punk looks.  The only drawback to the art was the color at times; when Dazzler put on a show or used her light powers, the colors appeared muted. The artistic depiction of her power set could have benefitted from bolder coloring. Did anyone else get a “Jem and the Holograms” from IDW vibe here? That is meant as a compliment.

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Rating: 8/10
Final Thoughts: 
“Dazzler X-Song #1 is an insightful and well-made self-contained character story with strong relevant themes, propelling this often underused X-Woman forward.  The decision of our lightengale to be a hero for everyone is a strong theme expected to follow her into “Astonishing X-Men” this summer.

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