A Look Back at What If #4 (1989)

Disclaimer: This is my original work with details sourced from reading the comic book and doing personal research. Anyone who wants to use this article, in part or in whole, needs to secure first my permission and agree to cite me as the source and author. Let it be known that any unauthorized use of this article will constrain the author to pursue the remedies under R.A. No. 8293, the Revised Penal Code, and/or all applicable legal actions under the laws of the Philippines.

Welcome back superhero fans, 20th century arts and culture enthusiasts, Marvel Comics fans and comic book collectors! Today we go back to the year 1989 and explore a part of Marvel Comics’ universe through the reimagined tales emphasized in the What If monthly series (Volume 2).

For the newcomers reading this, I previously reviewed a variety What If comic books which you can find by clicking here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here. The joy of reading a What If comic book was the exploration of alternate outcomes in relation to the stories that have been counted by Marvel Comics as canon or official fictional history within their shared comic book universe. In this retro review, we will explore a key event from Spider-Man’s time with the alien costume (symbiote) which is related with the events of Secret Wars and the eventual establishment of his deadliest nemesis Venom.

With those details laid down, here is a look back What If #4, published in 1989 by Marvel Comics with a story written by Danny Fingeroth and drawn by Mark Bagley.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins with the Watcher examining Spider-Man’s involvement with the Secret Wars that took place on a faraway planet created by the Beyonder. There, his costume got damaged beyond  repair and he acquired a new one made of what he perceived to be an advanced form of material. After successfully returning home, Spider-Man goes through some mysterious developments and he could not understand why he remains fatigued even as he spent more time sleeping.

With the help of Mr. Fantastic at the Fantastic Four headquarters, Spider-Man learns that his new costume is a living entity that has attached itself to him mentally and physically. As Mr. Fantastic uses a sonic blaster, Spider-Man and the alien costume got separated at last. Some time later, the alien costume re-attached itself to Spider-Man who eventually used church bells loud sounds to separate it. The alien costume would go on to the find Eddie Brock to form Venom.

The alternate reality begins with Spider-Man having a joyful reunion with Black Cat shortly after coming back from Secret Wars. Learning from her advise to have himself checked properly, he visits Dr. Connors (the Lizard) for examination and testing…

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The possessed Spider-Man takes on Dr. Strange and the Hulk without hesitation.

To say that Danny Fingeroth’s script is very deep is an understatement. Specifically, this story is a great exploration of alternative events that not only affects the iconic Spider-Man/Peter Parker but also other elements of the Marvel Comics universe of the time. The concept of the alien costume fully bonding with Peter Parker with Mr. Fantastic and even Dr. Strange failing to help is indeed suspenseful and intriguing to read thanks to Fingeroth’s very solid writing. In fact, the story even shows Spider-Man as being possessed by the symbiote (complete with dialogue) and when you witness Peter Parker struggling to control himself consciously (while wrestling with the alien costume), you will really feel his pain. I should also state that there is a lot more about Spider-Man told here that goes beyond the possession which really turned out to be very compelling to read in my experience. This is easily the most engaging alternate portrayal of Spider-Man as we know him and it should be read by as many people as possible.

Along the way, this comic book portrays the alien costume as an insatiable being and the implementation of dialogue for it (structured in a way as using the vocal ability of the powered being it bonded with) gave it a very unique personality of its own. This is something that was not portrayed in the early appearances of Venom in which Eddie Brock does the talking and reacting to unseen messages from the symbiote. That being said, the alien costume here symbolizes possession within the Marvel Comics shared universe and its unknown state really challenges not only the intelligence of the superheroes but also their ability to decide on what final action to take with regards to sentient life.

As staged by the writer, the story’s narrative occasionally shifts away from Spider-Man to follow other characters such as Black Cat (Peter Parker’s love at the time), Mr. Fantastic (in a great portrayal of his proficiency in science and as a responsible superhero), Thor and others which made the reading experience really immersive in relation to emphasizing how this alternate reality affects others. You will get to see the Captain America, the Hulk, Iron Man, the Wasp, Captain Marvel, the Fantastic Four and the Avengers here.

Those who are fond of superhero spectacle will have a lot to enjoy here. Mark Bagley carefully paces the action scenes and he uses visual dynamism during the right moments.  

Conclusion

Through dialogue, the alien costume is portrayed as a sinister force.

I can say it out loud…What If #4 (1989) is one of the best Marvel Comics alternate reality stories I have ever read and the creative team of Fingeroth-Bagley crafted an epic tale that goes beyond the featured question of “What if the alien costumer had possessed Spider-Man?”. The comic book works excellently as both a Spider-Man story as well as a Marvel superheroes struggle. The story touches on relevant topics such as possession, killing and scientific exploitation. This is a must-have comic book!

Overall, What If #4 (1989) is highly recommended!

+++++

Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me with a private message. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me on Twitter at  @HavenorFantasy as well as on Tumblr at https://carlocarrasco.tumblr.com/ and on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/authorcarlocarrasco/

A Look Back at Dazzler #26 (1983)

Disclaimer: This is my original work with details sourced from reading the comic book and doing personal research. Anyone who wants to use this article, in part or in whole, needs to secure first my permission and agree to cite me as the source and author. Let it be known that any unauthorized use of this article will constrain the author to pursue the remedies under R.A. No. 8293, the Revised Penal Code, and/or all applicable legal actions under the laws of the Philippines.

Welcome back superhero enthusiasts, 1980s culture enthusiasts and comic book collectors! Today we go back to the year 1983 to examine the Marvel Comics universe through the exploits of Dazzler!

In my previous retro comic book review, I found Dazzler #25 lacking on superhero entertainment value and the new antagonist introduced was not so interesting. Not even its strong character-driven tale could lift up its fun factor. By the time that comic book was published, Alison Blaire/Dazzler already has a half-sister named Lois. In this new review of the 26th issue of the Dazzler regular series, something about Lois is about to be revealed and we will find out if it could make the issue more entertaining than issue #25.

With those details laid down, here is a look back Dazzler #26, published by Marvel Comics in 1983 with a story written by Danny Fingeroth and drawn by the late Frank Springer.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins with Alison Blaire performing live in front of a large audience as Dazzler during a concert. As she performs, three armed men gang up on the event manager just several feet away and out of the view of the crowd. The three demand the release of the box office receipts.

Dazzler notices the commotion and very carefully analyzes what action to take without negatively affecting the show and the audience. She tells the band to play louder music to ensure she would have enough sound to convert into light. Suddenly she springs into action, lights herself up and hits the three armed men as well as the manager. The commotion ends with Dazzler announcing a short intermission to the audience.

Soon after behind the scenes, after meeting several people, Dazzler is approached by Lois who tells her that she does not feel so well. Lois says she’s so afraid, another one of those faintaing spells might be coming on…

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Lois London realizes she is in trouble.

While Lois only occupied a minor space on this comic book’s cover, the story’s biggest feature is its revelation about Dazzler’s half-sister Lois which is something that you readers should find out. While Lois appeared in prior issues, it is in this particular story where she got a huge amount of the spotlight and Danny Fingeroth efficiently wrote her as the other major character.

As this tale is the major turn of events in the life of Lois, this opened a new opportunity for the creative team of Fingeroth and Springer to send the narrative of the Dazzler series to a new direction complete with a new way to develop Alison Blaire’s personality (and her struggle on keeping her mutant status a secret in the middle of a society that despise mutants). This story also recalled the events in which Alison was despised for her mutant status and later became the vilified suspect of a trial related to the death of Klaw. The moral lessons of those old events seamlessly connected with Alison’s effort on helping her half-sister. As such, Danny Fingeroth’s writing here is very solid and he really did his research not only on past Dazzler stories but also on the X-Men as the tale had its subtle connections to certain characters who are more identified with the X-Men series of the time.  

If there is anything weak about this Dazzler tale, it is the clear lack of superhero spectacle. This is one meaty and dramatic tale about Dazzler and Lois laced with heavy drama, suspense and mystery. The only superhero spectacle you will see here is in the early part of the story.

Conclusion

Dazzler rushes into action!

While it is flawed, Dazzler #26 (1983) is still a slight improvement over issue #25. This is one character-driven tale heavy on drama, suspense and mystery while ending up light on spectacle. The most notable thing about this comic book is the new direction on telling Dazzler’s story while establishing Lois as the other major character for readers to follow. To say the least, the sudden revelation of the secret of Lois is engaging enough to read and it will remind you about certain elements emphasized in X-Men comic books of the time.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Dazzler #26 (1983), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $57 while the near-mint copy of the newsstand edition costs $113.

Overall, Dazzler #26 (1983) is satisfactory.

+++++

Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me with a private message. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me on Twitter at  @HavenorFantasy as well as on Tumblr at https://carlocarrasco.tumblr.com/

A Look Back at Dazzler #24 (1983)

Disclaimer: This is my original work with details sourced from reading the comic book and doing personal research. Anyone who wants to use this article, in part or in whole, needs to secure first my permission and agree to cite me as the source and author. Let it be known that any unauthorized use of this article will constrain the author to pursue the remedies under R.A. No. 8293, the Revised Penal Code, and/or all applicable legal actions under the laws of the Philippines.

Welcome back superhero enthusiasts, 1980s culture enthusiasts and comic book collectors! Today we go back to the year 1983 to examine the Marvel Comics universe through the exploits of Dazzler!

As seen in the cover of the next Dazzler comic book I reviewed, the lady has Power Man and Iron Fist with her. In short, there is a crossover within Marvel Comics’ universe just waiting to be unveiled. Who exactly will Dazzler, Power Man and Iron Fist be facing? What kind of situation are they entering into?

With those details laid down, here is a look back Dazzler #24, published by Marvel Comics in 1983 with a story written by Danny Fingeroth and drawn by the late Frank Springer.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins with Rogue (of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants) breaking through the front door of the apartment of Alison Blaire who remains her target. She realizes that Dazzler is absent which is inconvenient as she believes that the singer is key in her quest to find Angel and the rest of the X-Men. Rogue makes a mess of Alison’s things in the apartment and decides to wait for her to return.

A short time later, Alison is approached by her friend Frank on her way home. He tells her that someone broke into her apartment and made a mess inside. Realizing that the trespasser is none other than Rogue (note: they encountered each other in Dazzler #22) and that she alone does not have much of a chance in fighting her, she calls Power Man and Iron Fist for their professional help…

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Alison Blaire desperately getting away from Rogue.

To begin with, this is one action-packed tale of Dazzler that still manages to emphasize the development of the protagonist and her newly formed bond with her half-sister Lois (who appeared a short time before this comic book was released). As a crossover set within the Marvel Comics universe, Danny Fingeroth’s story makes mention of the X-Men as Rogue continues her quest on getting Dazzler to get to Angel in order to find Charles Xavier’s team which is all part of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutant’s lust for revenge. Along the way, readers will get to see Rogue take on Power Man and Iron Fist (note: these two met with Dazzler in Dazzler #23) which was fun to see.

More on Dazzler herself, the stakes are raised again as she not only has to survive encountering Rogue but also of the fact that the powerful Brotherhood of Evil Mutants member becomes aware of Lois. I should state that there are two encounters between Dazzler and Rogue here, and each one was entertaining to read.

Conclusion

Alison Blaire plus Power Man and Iron Fist.

Dazzler #24 (1983) is a Marvel crossover tale which the creators made to add some action-packed variety while telling the story of Dazzler. That being said, the dramatic character development that this comic book series was notable for was lightened a bit to make way for the superhero spectacle. Not only does this comic book provide readers additional insight into the duo of Power Man and Iron Fist, it also showed some development about the conflict between the X-Men and the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. Ultimately, this is one old and fun comic book to have.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Dazzler #24 (1983), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $57 while the near-mint copy of the newsstand edition costs $113.

Overall, Dazzler #24 (1983) is recommended.

+++++

Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me with a private message. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me on Twitter at  @HavenorFantasy as well as on Tumblr at https://carlocarrasco.tumblr.com/

A Look Back at Dazzler #22 (1982)

Disclaimer: This is my original work with details sourced from reading the comic book and doing personal research. Anyone who wants to use this article, in part or in whole, needs to secure first my permission and agree to cite me as the source and author. Let it be known that any unauthorized use of this article will constrain the author to pursue the remedies under R.A. No. 8293, the Revised Penal Code, and/or all applicable legal actions under the laws of the Philippines.

Welcome back superhero enthusiasts, 1980s culture enthusiasts and comic book collectors! Today we go back to the 1980s to examine the Marvel Comics universe through the exploits of Dazzler!

In my retro review of Dazzler #21 (1982), I observed that the story had no good-versus-evil conflict at all as it was purely character-driven and focused a lot on the personal development of Alison Blaire/Dazzler. More notably, the story shed light on both Alison’s father (a judge) and mother (who left the judge) and how the past affected the protagonist. Very clearly, Dazzler’s development really went deep since her first-ever appearance in an X-Men comic book. Speaking of the X-Men, I must say that one of the team’s notable members had an early (not the first) appearance in the next Dazzler issue I just reviewed. That character is none other than Rogue and she looks nothing like the way Jim Lee modernized her in the 1990s.

With those details laid down, here is a look back Dazzler #22, published by Marvel Comics in 1982 with a story written by Danny Fingeroth and drawn by the late Frank Springer.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins in the air high above the streets of New York City. Warren Worthington III/Angel’s flight gets disrupted as a group of hawks suddenly attack him from all sides. With quick thinking, he uses different methods to gradually lure each hawk and trick them into bumping into something to end their pursuit.

Meanwhile, as Alison Blaire rides the car driven by her field manager Lance going to the studio, she saves a roller-skating lady from colliding with a car using clever methods. At the studio, Alison prepares herself for a recording session under the watch of the perfectionist music producer L.B. Holman…

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The Brotherhood of Evil Mutants led by Mystique.

As expected, the story in this comic book showed natural progression on developing the protagonist as well as her parents while also reviving the superhero trope of good-versus-evil which was clearly done for entertainment value. While the cover art had Rogue hitting Dazzler, the good-versus-evil conflict within is actually bigger than that as the story involves not only Rogue but also notable X-Men villainess Mystique plus Destiny.

As this was in the early 1980s, Rogue was not a member of the X-Men at the time and was still new (her first-ever appearance was in Avengers Annual #10 in 1981). Regarding Mystique, her appearance in this comic book was not merely just an appearance but rather an extension of the exploits of her group called the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants and it has been her desire to get back at the X-Men over what happened in Uncanny X-Men #142 (part 2 of the Days of Future Past storyline). As such, having Dazzler encounter the evil group in the presence of the X-Men’s Angel was a very strategic move by Danny Fingeroth as it emphasized the crossover aspect within the Marvel Comics universe of the time complete with pretty good dialogue and details emphasized.

This also helps remind readers of Dazzler’s previous involvement with the X-Men and cleverly gave them the idea of what would things be like if the protagonist someday really joined the team of mutants.

On character development, dramatizing Alison’s mother and father shows progress from what happened near the end of the previous issue which is a nice touch. Even Alison’s boyfriend Ken got his own share of the spotlight. What is most notable when it comes to characterization in this comic book is the smooth and fine chemistry between Alison and Warren Worthington. The two made convincing friends and how their respective circumstances brought them together here was well executed by the creators.

Conclusion

Discreetly, Alison Blaire uses her power to help someone.

Dazzler #22 (1982) is enjoyable and has that fine balance between characterization, plotting and spectacle. The good-versus-evil conflict here should really catch the attention of readers, especially those who are deeply interested with the X-Men-related characters and groups of the early 1980s. There is also enough superhero action to keep readers entertained and clearly this was done to make up for the lack of action in the very dramatic issue #21.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Dazzler #22 (1982), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $57 while the near-mint copy of the newsstand edition costs $113.

Overall, Dazzler #22 (1982) is recommended.

+++++

Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me with a private message. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me on Twitter at  @HavenorFantasy as well as on Tumblr at https://carlocarrasco.tumblr.com/

A Look Back at Dazzler #21 (1982)

Disclaimer: This is my original work with details sourced from reading the comic book and doing personal research. Anyone who wants to use this article, in part or in whole, needs to secure first my permission and agree to cite me as the source and author. Let it be known that any unauthorized use of this article will constrain the author to pursue the remedies under R.A. No. 8293, the Revised Penal Code, and/or all applicable legal actions under the laws of the Philippines.

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 cover.

Early story

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…

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Alison Blaire and her friend Vanessa try out new clothes.

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.

Conclusion

Alison tries to help her troubled father.

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.

+++++

Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me with a private message. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me on Twitter at  @HavenorFantasy as well as on Tumblr at https://carlocarrasco.tumblr.com/

A Look Back at Dazzler #1 (1981)

Disclaimer: This is my original work with details sourced from reading the comic book and doing personal research. Anyone who wants to use this article, in part or in whole, needs to secure first my permission and agree to cite me as the source and author. Let it be known that any unauthorized use of this article will constrain the author to pursue the remedies under R.A. No. 8293, the Revised Penal Code, and/or all applicable legal actions under the laws of the Philippines.

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 cover.

Early story

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…

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This page alone establishes Dazzler as a person struggling to make ends meet.

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.

As a teenager, Alison Blaire’s power begins to manifest during this particular event in her life.

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.

Conclusion

The scene involving the X-Men is a nice touch as it connects with Dazzler’s previous interaction with them.

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!

+++++

Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

A Look Back at What If #20 (1990)

Disclaimer: This is my original work with details sourced from reading the comic book and doing personal research. Anyone who wants to use this article, in part or in whole, needs to secure first my permission and agree to cite me as the source and author. Let it be known that any unauthorized use of this article will constrain the author to pursue the remedies under R.A. No. 8293, the Revised Penal Code, and/or all applicable legal actions under the laws of the Philippines.

Welcome back superhero enthusiasts, comic book collectors, 1990s culture enthusiasts and fans of Marvel Comics! Before starting this newest retro comic book review, I should state that I really like Marvel’s way of exploring the unexplored scenarios related to the stories they published. Back in the 1980s, Marvel made its decision to have their icon Spider-Man – in his civilian form as Peter Parker – get married with Mary Jane Watson. Unsurprisingly, such an event added a whole lot of new elements into the life of the literary Spider-Man with regards to his struggle on balancing his life between superhero acts, domestic living and being attentive to his wife. If you really want to read about the wedding, I suggest searching for a copy of The Amazing Spider-Man Annual #21 (1987).

Imagine what would have happened had Spider-Man not married Mary Jane? That very scenario was explored in an issue of the What If monthly series (Volume 2) back in the early 1990s. We can find out more together in this look back at What If #20, published by Marvel Comics in 1990 with a story written by Danny Fingeroth and drawn by Jim Valentino.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins with the Watcher narrating key events in the life of Spider-Man. It is recalled how much pain Spider-Man endured when his beloved Gwen Stacy died during his conflict with the Green Goblin. Subsequently Peter Parker resumed his relationship with Mary Jane. When Mary Jane became absent, he got involved with Felicia Hardy/Black Cat who turned out to be too wild and reckless for him. Eventually, Peter married Mary Jane.

By pointing out that there are other realities, the Watcher then begins to explore another scenario in which Spider-Man realizes is far from being all right with him. During the wedding ceremony, Peter turns down Mary Jane which shocks the guests who were present. He tells her privately that even though he loves her, she will be in danger all the time as a wife. She walks away from him, still wearing her wedding dress.

Some hours later, Spider-Man swings around New York and strikes the criminals really hard…

Quality

Spider-Man and Black Cat take on Venom!

To be clear, this comic book shows a Spider-Man who not only rejected marriage, but is also a tortured soul whose inner pain started even before the failed wedding ceremony. Silver Sable, who is often focused on missions, notices Spider-Man being too angry and careless with his performance with them taking on the bad guys. The old and frail Aunt May is deeply worried over Peter and hopes he would not harden his heart to the possibility of loving someone.

The thing about this story is that the writing done by Danny Fingeroth is pretty good as he captured Spider-Man’s essence while successfully steering him pretty close to the edge, almost blurring the boundary the separates the good and evil in him. The story moved with a nice pace and there is a good amount of suspense that will keep you wondering if Spider-Man can climb out of the deep hole of darkness he’s in.

More on the plot, I also enjoyed this comic book’s connection with Kraven’s Last Hunt and the early encounter with Venom. If there is any weak point with this story, it is the fact that it served as build-up of something set to happen in the next issue.

When it comes to the art, Jim Valentino did a good job bringing the script to life and that includes framing the character development scenes and the spectacle scenes in interesting ways. I personally enjoyed his take on Venom and Kraven.

Conclusion

Without Mary Jane as a wife, Spider-Man went on to fight the bad guys more intensely.

What If #20 (1990) is indeed a solid, alternate story about Spider-Man. It was gripping right from the start but it lacked a solid conclusion as its last few pages started to build up anticipation for the following issue. In short, this is not a standalone story and to fully enjoy what it started, you have to read What If #21. Still, I love the way Spider-Man is portrayed here and there are some characters involved that long-time fans will enjoy.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of What If #20 (1990), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $53 while the respective near-mint copies of the newsstand edition and the signed edition both cost $105.

Overall, What If #20 (1990) is recommended.

+++++

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