MIGHTY MARVEL MAY #21: DAZZLER

Poor Alison Blaire. All she ever wanted to do was be a rock star. Poor Dazzler. She was secretly a mutant who could transform sound into light. Poor Marvel. Too late to cash in on the roller disco craze.

1980 was an amazing year, neither 70s or 80s. It was entirely transitional. Disco was over, but MTV was just an idea. Image was becoming synonymous with sound where popular music was concerned. The movie XANADU is 1980 in cinematic form. The hero Dazzler is 1980 in superhero form.

Introduced in UNCANNY X-MEN #130 by Chris Claremont and John Byrne, Dazzler was actually created by writer Tom Defalco and artist John Romita, with input by Marvel Editor-in-Chief Jim Shooter as a promotional tie-in between Casablanca Records and Marvel Comics. Some of the earliest development drawings depict her has a tall black woman with close-cropped hair, once again recalling singer Grace Jones. The Casablanca deal was complicated and at one point there were negotiations for a film starring Bo Derek, hot from the movie “10.” But Bo Derek came as a package deal with husband John Derek and the film died in development.

Never one to throw a viable idea away, the character was introduced in an X-Men story before being launched into her own book. In it, Dazzler was a performer first and only very reluctantly a hero second. The title was never great, but Dazzler, the character, charmed me. Ridiculous as her premise was, no matter how unlikely the occasional appearance of Spider-Man or the X-Men,  Dazzler herself was strangely earnest and compelling. She just wanted to perform for the people. Who could hate that?
Tomorrow another powerful potentate of the printed page in the next installment of MIGHTY MARVEL MAY!

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MIGHTY MARVEL MAY #17: ROGUE

When Rogue first appeared in AVENGERS ANNUAL #10 in1981, long before that internet, artists were often at the mercy of their local libraries and bookstores for reference. If a story called for them to draw the Taj Mahal or a Gemini spacecraft, they couldn’t use Google image search, so they had to do research on their own time at their own expense. Writer Chris Claremont’s script described a new villain called Rogue as looking like Grace Jones, artist Michael Golden didn’t know who Jones was. So he made Rogue up out of his imagination.

Seemingly a remorseless villain, Rogue’s mutant power to absorb other superhuman powers (as well as short-term memories) from other superhumans meant she was almost a match for the Avengers. A heroine named Ms. Marvel fell victim to Rogue’s ability and, for the first and only time, the transfer of powers and memories was permanent. Since that time, Rogue has had the basic set of superpowers in addition to her own: flight, invulnerability and super-strength… And the memories of Ms. Marvel clamoring in her head.

Rogue fought the X-Men next, but soon Ms. Marvel (Carol Danvers)’s memories were impossible to drown out, and Rogue turned to her enemies at the Xavier’s School for help.

She was not greeted warmly. (Art by Walt Simonson)

Having fought her before, the X-Men were not happy to have her on the team. But gradually she became one of the longest-lasting, best loved members of the team.

With her superhuman strength, invulnerability and Mississippi sass, Rogue appears  confident and brash. But to me, her inability to come into physical contact with anyone makes her a tragic heroine, and highly vulnerable. Her capricious, criminal youth means her career as a hero is a redemptive one. She can never give back what she’s taken, but she never stops fighting to correct the mistakes of her past.

Don’t be filled with dread- MIGHTY MARVEL MAY continues tomorrow!