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Welcome back superhero enthusiasts, 1980s culture enthusiasts and comic book collectors! Today we go back to the year 1982 to examine the Marvel Comics universe through the exploits of Dazzler!
While my most recent retro review of Dazzler was the 4th issue of its monthly series, I have decided to jump straight to issue #21 for this new retro review. By the time Dazzler #21 got published, the unusual superhero went through a lot and illustrator Frank Springer became fully established as the monthly series’ definitive artist.
With those details laid down, here is a look back Dazzler #21, published by Marvel Comics in 1982 with a story written by Danny Fingeroth and drawn by the late Frank Springer.
The story begins with Alison Blaire/Dazzler being carried above the buildings of New York City by Angel (Warren Worthington) of the X-Men. At this point in time, Alison’s father judge Carter Blaire snapped under the weight of turmoil related to the death of his wife and his daughter’s rebelliousness. As Dazzler, Alison had gone through intense encounters with the likes of the Incredible Hulk, She-Hulk, a top-secret syndicate that made her a test subject and even Galactus.
Recently, Bella – Alison’s grandmother – could not cope with her son’s breakdown and reached out to Warren Worthington to help her reach Alison. Since after being found, Alison had been traveling with Angel by air.
Along the way, Spider-Man sees them and recognizes Alison as Dazzler. He swings to try to get their attention but was ignored as they were so focused on their objective. A short time later, Angel and Alison arrive at judge Blaire’s home. Her grandmother greets them and tells her she hopes that she can get through to judge Blaire.
The doctor, however, advised against that tactic and states that Alison’s intervention may worsen her father’s condition as much of it was centered on her…
I’ll go straight to the point about what the story of this double-sized comic book is about without spoiling it. It is a pretty dramatic look at the protagonist in her civilian form as Alison Blaire. You will get to see her as Dazzler in this comic book but if you are looking for a lot of superhero moments of her or if you are looking for Dazzler in a conflict with evil elements, you won’t find it here.
More on the plot, this comic book explores deeply the emotional and personal dimensions of Alison and along the way, stories about her own past as well as the respect past events of both her father and mother got dramatized. The story tackles themes like independence, maturity, marriage, personal development, family ties and personal conflicts of interest. The good thing here is that the script by Danny Fingeroth is very well-written and it seems he did his research on constructing a personal story about Alison Blaire that is very grounded in reality. That being said, the superhero elements have been pushed aside most of the time and the ironic thing is the fact that the other Marvel superheroes – Spider-Man, Fantastic Four, The Avengers and more – appeared here as if to remind readers this is still a superhero tale.
Very clearly, this story was written for the very dedicated or even the die-hard Dazzler fans in mind. When it comes to the fun factor, the results could be mixed depending on what readers want to see in this comic book. For me personally, it is a pretty engaging story to read and at the same time it is fun enough as well.
Dazzler #21 (1982) could be barely received or strongly received or even rejected even though it has a very rich and dramatic script. The clear lack of the superhero presentation of Dazzler in favor of heavy drama and in-depth characterization may not win the approval of readers/collectors who love superhero stuff but it will resonate with the readers who really love the character and had immersed themselves into her life. As far as characterization goes, this comic book marks a significant turning point of Dazzler herself and in its story, she really developed a lot since making her first-ever appearance in Uncanny X-Men #130. If you are a Dazzler purist who does not mind the lack of superhero spectacle, this one could engage you.
If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Dazzler #21 (1982), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $28 while the near-mint copy of the newsstand edition costs $60.
Overall, Dazzler #21 (1982) is recommended.
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