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Welcome back, X-Men fans, superhero enthusiasts, 1980s culture enthusiasts and comic book collectors! Today, we look back at the year 1980 specifically the time when the Uncanny X-Men monthly series was spearheaded by legendary creators Chris Claremont and John Byrne. In fact, we will examine here the comic book debut of Dazzler, a mutant with the ability to convert the vibrations of sound into light and energy beams. Dazzler is quite unique among all superheroes as she has been portrayed as a singer, an actress, a model and got associated with other Marvel superheroes. Marvel Comics went on to actually publish a regular comic book series about Dazzler which lasted over forty issues.
To say the least, the creation of Dazzler is quite intriguing as it involved a commission by an American record label for a special project with a disco queen character as the core concept and that Marvel Comics itself would develop the superhero (in the form of a singer) and that an actual singer will be produced by the said record label. Then Marvel editor-in-chief Jim Shooter wrote a treatment for the project which turned from an animated special into a live-action film. As creative process for Dazzler went on at Marvel, Tom DeFalco (who later succeeded Shooter as editor-in-chief) wrote her creation while John Romita, Jr. did the character design. The name Dazzler was the result of a suggestion by Roger Stern. There also was some Bo Derek influence on the creation of Dazzler.
While the special project did not happen due to the financial problems of the record label, Marvel went on to formally introduce Dazzler in the pages of an Uncanny X-Men comic book handled by Claremont-Byrne team.
With those details laid down, here is a look back at Uncanny X-Men #130, published by Marvel Comics in 1980 with a story co-written by Chris Claremont and John Byrne. Byrne drew the art.
The story begins on Delano Street in Lower Manhattan. Scott Summers/Cyclops, Jean Grey and Nightcrawler had just arrived on a mission to locate a mutant (detected by Cerebro) not knowing that they themselves are bring monitored by a hidden sinister force. With Nightcrawler left in-charge of guarding their Rolls Royce, Scott and Jean enter a deteriorating building only to find a club on an upper level full of lights, loud music, dancing and a lot of people. They begin to start searching for the detected mutant.
Outside, a truck parks on the other side of the same street where the X-Men’s Rolls Royce was parked at. Inside the truck one of the operators communicates to a certain Mr. Shaw who states that the Hellfire Club is proud. Over at the Hellfire Club’s headquarters, Sebastian Shaw and Jason Wyngarde talk about the X-Men members searching the disco. Wyngarde moves on with his plan to subvert Jean Grey and gather her into their fold…
The storytelling is great which is not surprising as this was done by Claremont and Byrne. It is clear that there was a good amount of preparation done which explains this comic book’s excellent ways on emphasizing the following story points: the build-up of the Hellfire Club as a potent force of evil that await the X-Men, Kitty Pryde/Shadowcat’s growing involvement, the vulnerability of Jean Grey, the build-up of the Phoenix, and the debut of Dazzler. Along the way, the creative team also ensure that the dialogue was rich (the same thing also with the thought balloons Claremont came up with), the emphasis of super powers made sense, the action scenes were satisfying and there was a good amount of suspense here.
I love the way Dazzler’s first-ever appearance was handled as it happened just after an intriguing scene about Jean Grey’s vulnerability took place. Her debut also occurred at a point when Jean and Scott seemed to be failing to find her. Of course, the 1970s disco vibe was very strong with Dazzler.
Without a doubt, Uncanny X-Men #130 (1980) is a classic X-Men tale by the Claremont-Byrne team who succeeded in not only introducing Dazzler into Marvel’s comic book universe but also with strongly emphasizing the Hellfire Club as a powerful opposition which went on to have a key part in the legendary Dark Phoenix storyline that followed. Dazzler meanwhile became a very popular superhero of Marvel’s going into the 1980s. For the modern-day comic book reader, this comic book can be quite challenging to read as it is very wordy (typical of Claremont).
If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Uncanny X-Men #130 (1980), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the very fine copy of the regular edition costs $1,407 while the fine copy of the newsstand edition costs $1,013.
Overall, Uncanny X-Men #130 (1980) is highly recommended!
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