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Welcome back, superhero enthusiasts, comic collectors, 1990s culture enthusiasts and fans of Marvel Comics! Previously, I reviewed Uncanny X-Men #130 which was the first appearance of Dazzler who went on to become one of the most notable new characters of Marvel Comics in the 1980s. After appearing in Uncanny X-Men #131 and Amazing Spider-Man #203, Dazzler became more prominent among all of Marvel’s superheroes as the publisher launched an all-new monthly series featuring her. There is more to that than meets the eye, however.
In his article titled “Dazzler and Me”, Danny Fingeroth wrote: Marvel decided to tray an experiment with the relatively new “direct market” – comic book shops. It was decided that Dazzler #1 would only be available in comic book shops, not at traditional newsstands.
Dazzler #1 sold over 400,000 copies.
Even the top-selling comics of the era sold perhaps 250,000 copies. So, the first issue, anyway, was a major hit.
Apart from the confirmed commercial success of the comic book, it is a wonder if it is still good to read by today’s standards. To find out, here is a look back at Dazzler #1, published in 1981 by Marvel Comics with a story written by Tom DeFalco and drawn by John Romita, Jr.
The story begins with Dazzler running away from four armed men who had been following her since she left the disco. She finds herself corned at the dead end of an alley as the men approach her. While pretending to be reaching for her make-up in the bag, Dazzler grabs and activates her portable radio which plays music. With the music turned on, she uses her power to convert it all into a dazzling display of light and color which makes the men disoriented.
While swinging nearby, Spider-Man notices the display of light but before he begins his approach, Dazzler makes her move to knock two men out. Another man fires his gun and his bullet ricochets until it hits the portable radio stops the music and Dazzler’s lights altogether leaving her vulnerable once again…
As far as telling a Dazzler story goes, this comic book is the complete package and it’s got very solid writing! Apart from showing what happened to her after her appearances in the Uncanny X-Men and Amazing Spider-Man series, this comic book formally introduces Dazzler in her civilian identity as Alison Blaire and thanks to efficient writing, it also reveals threads of her past and how her mutant powers manifested. Not only that, readers will get to see the title character as a typical person who is struggling to make ends meet even though she does her best with entertainment as a career.
Strangely, the focus on Dazzler is relatively light in content and the result is several pages of Marvel universe-related filler which shows several other characters like Captain America, Iron Man, Storm, Wolverine and others present with little to no connection with the title character. The X-Men scene is a nice touch as it will remind readers about Dazzler’s first interaction with them.
To build-up the first challenge for Dazzler, this comic book has the Enchantress as the villainess and ironically it also had some room of character development for her. Clearly this was done not only to build up anticipation for the next issue but to make readers root for Dazzler some more. In retrospect, the Enchantress would later emerge as an important figure in 1984’s crossover storyline Secret Wars.
While it is indeed a product of the early 1980s carrying influences from the 1970s New York club scene, Dazzler #1 (1981) is still fun and engaging to read. Clearly this comic book is a must-have for anyone who loves Dazzler and it should be entertaining enough for geeks who love the 1980s and the Marvel-related crossovers of the time. Very clearly, this comic book succeeded in introducing and developing Dazzler as a person (as opposed to being a super hero) and the background story established fits in nicely with the character’s first appearance in Uncanny X-Men #130. Very clearly, there is a lot more to Dazzler than her unique super power and her disco look.
If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Dazzler #1 (1981), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the comic book costs $70.
Overall, Dazzler #1 (1981) is highly recommended!
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