Dazzler #13

Issue Date: 
March 1982
Story Title: 
Trial… and Terror!

Danny Fingeroth (writer), Frank Springer (penciler), Vince Colletta (inker), Don Warfield (colorist), Janice Chiang (letterer), Jim Shooter (editor)

Brief Description: 

Paul breaks up with Dazzler, claiming he needs something more normal in his life. Sad and angry, Dazzler returns to her apartment, only to encounter some federal agents there, intent on arresting her for the murder of Klaw. Alison flees custody but eventually decides to turn herself in. A man named Kenneth Barnett becomes her court-appointed attorney, however Alison is to spend a night at the infamous Ryker’s Island prison before her trial commences. That night, Alison is dragged out of her cell by the Grapplers, a team of female wrestlers who effectively run the Ryker’s women wing after dusk falls. The Grapplers take turns beating and humiliating her in front of the other inmates, until Alison absorbs the superhuman howl released from Screaming Mimi and converts it to light energy, knocking all four Grapplers out. The following morning, the trial finally takes place and Alison is acquitted of all charges.

Full Summary: 

Alison Blaire sifts through a trunk of memorabilia in the attic of her father’s home in Gardendale, Long Island. Alison didn’t even know this old stuff of her mother existed. She never knew her mom and her dad never talks about her. If Dazzler’s grandmother, Bella, hadn’t shown her this trunk, it would still all be a secret to her. Sifting further inside the trunk, Ali finds a brooch – a heart with wings. She wonders if it had any special meaning to her mother and decides to take it with her.

Her grandmother’s voice is heard, warning Ali that her father’s home! Dazzler realizes she’s got to split before her father sees her and puts everything back in the trunk. Ali thinks it’s absurd she’s running from her own father. He’ll never forgive her for becoming a singer instead of a lawyer, like he wanted her to be. Ali loves him but she’ll never let him dictate how she should run her life. Getting downstairs, Ali apologizes to Bella for getting lost in thought up there. Bella understands but reminds her that her father sees red when she’s around… especially since the time she was missing for so long. If Ali hurries, she can run out of the back door before he gets to the kitchen. Alison hugs her, telling her she’s so wonderful; if only her dad was…

Suddenly, Judge Carter Blaire walks into the kitchen. Alison lunges for the door, then stops, frozen by her father’s gaze. She would love to embrace him and laugh with him. For a moment, their differences seem to disappear… and then Carter glimpses the brooch his daughter wears. His face grows grim and his choice is made: he shuts the back door, effectively throwing Ali out of the house. Turning to his mother, Carter informs her he’ll be in his study. Bella thinks it’s so difficult for her to be caught in the battle between her son and her daughter. If Alison knew her mother’s full story, she’d understand her father better. However, Bella would be betraying her promise to Carter if she ever told Ali. She thinks that perhaps Ali is better off not knowing.

A little later, in the midtown Manhattan offices of Harry S. Osgood

Standing on a ladder, Dazzler’s field manager, Lancelot Steele, tries to arrange a plant on the ceiling. Judging from his moves, Harry’s secretary, Cassandra, ironically wonders where Lance learned to take care of plants… in a butcher shop?! Lance insists he’s got the magic touch with women and plans; she’d find out if she ever gave him the chance! Cassandra advises him to keep his magic touch to himself and just make sure he doesn’t drop any leaves on the carpet.

Dazzler walks in and Lance greets her, telling her he heard she wowed the crowds with her performance at the Burger Clown opening. Ali jokes it was a really high class affair: in exchange for singing up a storm, she got all the grease-burgers she could wolf down! Cassandra remarks that it shows in her complexion… not that it was that good before!

Puzzled by why Cassandra needles her so, Dazzler congratulates her on her witty remarks and asks her if she thinks them up on Saturday nights while she’s waiting for the phone to ring! Cassandra retorts that she knows Alison is unemployed but she’s got work to do and then suggests Ali goes inside and sees Harry. As Ali is about to enter Harry’s office, she advises Lance to be careful as that ladder doesn’t seem very sturdy; nobody wants a broken field manager!

As Ali enters Harry’s office, a crash is heard from outside and Cassandra calls Lance “a clumsy oaf!” Harry welcomes Ali and thanks her for saving him from the terrible fate Techmaster had devised for him. Ali admits it’s an experience she’d rather not go through again but is glad Harry will no longer have to live in fear of that creep. She asks him if he’s got any work for her. Harry admits there’s a prospect in the offing but it is a bit premature for him to speak of it. In the meantime, Ali can go see Sid Sterling again. Sid might be able to find her something less spectacular. Ali admits that she’d happy if Sid finds her something that isn’t downright illegal! Harry retorts that Sid is somewhat lacking in class, but he’s also his friend and advises her to trust him.

Ali soon goes to Sid Sterling’s office, where he hands her a card with an address on it and tells her to ask Mr. Hyfler. A little bit later, at a midtown demolition site, Ali is singing “happy birthday” to one of the workmen, a man named Vinnie, on behalf of all the guys in Local 1142 and the Sensational Singing Telegrams! Much to his colleagues’ entertainment, a moved Vinnie starts crying!

Later that evening, Dazzler arrives at a restaurant. She hopes Paul’s not angry that she’s later for their dinner date. It took him forever to land a reservation at this place. Ali apologizes to Paul for being late and explains she got this really weird job at the last minute. As they sit on a table, Ali thinks that something’s wrong: Paul didn’t even kiss her hello. She asks him if he’s okay to which he responds he’s fine. He just thinks they need to talk about…

The waiter appears, cutting Paul in mid-phrase. Paul orders a double Scotch and Dazzler orders a brandy Alexander. After the waiter leaves, Ali confesses she’s amazed he ordered a double Scotch: he hardly drinks at all. She asks him what it is he wants them to talk about. Paul explains he wants to talk about their relationship. He admits they do like each other a lot – “I love you, Paul” Alison corrects him – and yet, something always seems to get in the way. She’s always running off here or there, dropping off without a word. Paul admits he needs something – someone – more normal and stable. What he’s trying to say is – it’s over between them.

Shocked, Alison mumbles that, if he’d only told her, given her a chance, maybe they could’ve… Suddenly getting angry, Ali realizes he knew they’d be in a crowed restaurant! He figured he could spare himself an embarrassing scene by speaking in a public place. Alison tells him he’s wrong, because she’s making a scene here and now! Alison leaves the restaurant, raising heads with her screaming that “the whole world’s gonna know what a cowardly rat Doctor Paul Janson is!” Paul can barely respond.

Later, outside her building, Frank, Alison’s neighbor, who’s about to go for a run, tells her not to worry: guys like Paul are a dime a dozen! Approaching her apartment, Alison feels like such a fool. She was so lovestruck she didn’t see that coming. She thinks Paul’s probably right; she’s not what he needs. Maybe this’ll give that nurse of his a shot at him.

Suddenly, Alison sees two men standing her apartment. “Ms. Blaire?” one of them asks her. “Y-yes. Who are you?” Alison asks them. The men inform her they’re federal marshals and ask her to come with them: she’s under arrest… for murder. “Murder?! Whose murder??!” Alison exclaims in shock. The men clarify it is for the murder of a man named Klaw at Project Pegasus. Ali protests that wasn’t murder: it was self-defense. He was going to kill her! The men insist they’ve got their orders as well as deputies equipped to neutralize her “dazzle” powers.

Ali indeed sees two men in the corridor, dressed in strange, space-like suits and carrying guns. Alison’s hand slowly inches its way into her handbag and clicks her radio on to a hard rock station. Ali exclaims she’s taken enough abuse for one day and she’s not going to take any more – and then instantly converts the sound into dazzling bursts of light, knocking the two marshals out. As she starts running away, in order to avoid what the men in the suits, she ducks into the stairwell. The men approach only for the stairwell door to suddenly swing open, causing them to lose their balance. Ali, now having her skates on – the reason behind her using those few seconds in the stairwell – rushes to the service elevator and quickly flees the building.

A little later, Ali thinks she’s lost them – though she doesn’t feel much safer in the creepy alleyway she’s right now. Seeing a homeless man dosing next to her, Ali decides to take his hat. She read in a detective novel that, if someone’s on the lam and keeps his eyes hidden, he gets a better chance of not being nabbed. She quickly takes the metro and enters a 42nd-street all-night movie theater. She thinks that she may be safe here for a while but wonders what she’s going to do next. Several hours later, at 8 a.m., a man wakes her up, telling her she’s got to do; the theater’s closing. Again wandering in the streets, Ali tries to think where she can go. She thinks that maybe the X-Men could help. Storm always seems so concerned about her. However, Ali also recalls that she rejected their offer of membership. She can’t go running to them now she’s in trouble. She’s got to turn herself in and face whatever fate has in store for her.

Without further delay, Alison walks into the 23rd Precinct Police Station and informs a sergeant that her name is Alison Blaire and she’s here to turn herself in. “Into what… a butterfly?” the man jokes. Ali insists she’s not kidding. She’s wanted for murder! The sergeant thinks she’s wasting his time and suggests her to go home. However, at that exact moment, Kronsky, one of the federal agents pursuing her all night, walks in and informs the sergeant that it’s true: she’s wanted and he’s taking her into custody.

Soon, Alison finds herself in the Lower Manhattan chambers of U.S. Circuit Court of Judge Evander Clinton. Clinton tells Dazzler that he’s known her father for years and is shocked a child of his could stand accused of murder. Clinton introduces her to Mr. Kenneth Barnett. Since Alison has no counsel of her own, Barnett will be her court-appointed judge. Clinton explains that, ordinarily, they’d have considered letting her out on bail. However, she resisted arrest rather violently – thus, until her trial commences, she’ll be remanded to the only facility equipped to hold special inmates like her: Ryker’s Island. Hearing this, Alison exclaims that she’s heard that place is a jungle! Barnett whispers to her that pressure is on from above to get her trial underway. The trial will begin tomorrow so Alison will be spending one night there.

Later that night, a very tense Alison tries to sleep in her specially soundproofed cell in Ryker’s Island. Her sleep is violently interrupted by three women breaking into her cell. The women order her to rise and shine; nap time’s over; she’s coming with them! Frightened, Alison asks them who they are and what they want. One of her tells her to can the questions. “When the Grapplers tell you to move, you move!” she adds. All three Grapplers – Letha, Poundcakes and Screaming Mimi – grab her from arms and legs and drag her out of the cell. Poundcakes orders her to keep her trap shut, otherwise they’ll snap her like a wishbone. Letha advises Ali to keep her strength for her initiation! “My what?” Ali exclaims. Screaming Mimi also orders Ali to shut up and then leads the way for the other Grapplers to follow.

The Grapplers enter a large dark room and announce she’s there, tossing Ali to the floor. Titania – the fourth Grappler – turns the lights on, curious to have a look at the chick that offed Klaw! The lights flood on and Alison finds herself amidst a prison mess hall, surrounded by dozens of female inmates. Titania is sitting on her impromptu “throne” – a chair placed on top of a table – and remarks that Dazzler doesn’t look so tough to her. She asks her fellow Grapplers if they’re sure she’s the right one. Poundcakes’ response is affirmative. Just like Titania, the other inmates are puzzled by how weak Dazzler seems to be. Still, one of them finds her cute!

Titania introduces herself and welcomes Ali to Ryker’s women wing. She informs Ali that she and the other Grapplers run this place at night. The Grapplers are wrestlers and mercenaries and since they got busted a while back and got stuck here, they decided they might as well make the best of it. A few well-greased – or well-threatened – guards and they’re able to do what they please! Still, Titania assures Dazzler she shouldn’t be scared of them – not if she killed Klaw, like the grapevine says she did. She asks Ali how and why she did it. Ali replies she didn’t kill him – she didn’t mean to… Losing her patience, Poundcakes decides to grab Ali’s hair to see if she can help her collect her thoughts!

With Letha holding her arms, Pouncakes punches Ali to her face and stomach. In vain, Ali begs them to stop. In response, Screaming Mimi opens her mouth wide and unleashes a high-pitched howl from her electronically modified chords that drags Ali to the brink of madness. With Dazzler collapsed on the floor, a disappointed Titania admits she’s not fun at all; she fell right over. She wonders how a piece of fluff like this could ever have killed anyone, much less Klaw. She thinks they ought to bust a couple of her ribs; see if they can get any answers!

“You want answers, Titania? How about this?” Dazzler suddenly exclaims and quickly kicks Titania, catching everyone by surprise! Titania holds her leg, unable to believe that wimp hurt her! Alison reminds Titania she’s a performer, too. She can sing, dance, skate… and dancers learn to kick, she adds, again demonstrating that on Titania! Letha grabs Ali from behind, with Poundcakes telling her she shouldn’t do that; they’ll make her cry for daddy now! Dazzler assures her she stopped crying for her daddy long time ago and then kicks her away.

Poundcakes rises, arguing that Dazzler may have caught her by surprise with some fancy tricks she learned in ballet school but now she’s ready for her! As Poundcakes approaches her again, Dazzler rears back and then fists Pouncakes with everything she’s got – causing her hand much pain! Poundcakes punches her back, causing Ali to collapse to the floor. With all Grapplers circling on her, Ali thinks she can’t take much more… she’s got to do something.

Screaming Mimi orders her fellow Grapplers to hold it: they’ve been having all the fun! She wishes to finish Dazzler herself. Finally coming up with an idea, Alison encourages Mimi to come on and finish her. Mimi screams and Dazzler’s world starts coming slowly apart. However, as devastating as Mimi’s assault may be, it is still sound. Alison struggles to clear her mind and ignore the effect of Mimi’s scream. Clenching her teeth, she absorbs the regular, rhythmic sound and converts it into a dazzling light blast which knocks all four Grapplers out!

Standing above the unconscious Grapplers, Dazzler – who doesn’t want the other inmates to know how weak she is – turns to them and orders them not to move for another five minutes after she leaves… unless they want the same the Grapplers got. The prisoners assure her they won’t give her a hassle. Groping her way through the blackness of the corridors, Alison decides to trip the alarm before she goes back to her cell to ensure there’s no encore performance. While a team of guards fans out over the entire prison, a battle-weary Alison returns to her bed.

The following morning, Alison meets her lawyer, who informs her they’ve got lots to prepare and very little time: her trial is in a few hours. Alison retorts that if he’s so smart, he tells her how she’s going to handle this. Barnett replies that, if she’s going to be so hostile, she can go get herself another counsel. Ali explains that if she had money, she would. However, she doesn’t and she can’t go begging to her family and friends – they can’t find out about this… Barnett remarks that she’s stuck with him then. Ali thinks that she shouldn’t be so belligerent but she sees in Barnett how she could have been – an eager young lawyer – and partly envies him.

Barnett presents her with the prosecution’s major piece of evidence: the videotape of her battle with Klaw and her subsequent absorbing of his entire… being. Barnett informs her that the state will argue she could have saved herself without killing Klaw or that she could have released his energy under controlled conditions and restored him to his living form. Barnett advises her to plead not guilty and asks her if she agrees. Alison’s response is affirmative.

Several hours later, in a courtroom closed to the public…

Alison apologizes to Barnett about earlier. She confesses she’s upset about all this. Barnett tells her not to worry about it. He’s had a few clients who were even ruder than her! He shows her the prosecution: district attorney O’Mara and his assistant, a young woman. Ali thinks that this woman could be her. Instead, she’s on trial!

Judge Clinton announces that the court will now come to order. The judge informs the court that Alison Blaire is charged with murder and that the alleged crime took place on the grounds of the top secret U.S. government energy research center called Project Pegasus. Due to the secrecy of that project, the trial has been closed to the public. Judge Clinton also instructs everyone present to not reveal anything about it.

The trial begins. The jury is shown the videotape of Klaw’s demise. Both Barnett and Alison know that the tape is a damaging piece of evidence. A little later, O’Mara is questioning his first witness, Dr. Bronner of Project Pegasus. Dr. Bronner believes that the defendant could have returned Klaw to his original form. They advised her to release the energy under controlled conditions but she instead used it to flee the Project. Barnett then cross-examines Bronner, asking him if he’s ever found himself infused with enough power to level a mountain! Bronner’s response is negative. Barnett asks him how he thinks he’d react if he were. Bronner doesn’t really know.

Later on, O’Mara questions Mr. Bannion, guard duty the night Dazzler attempted to forcibly leave the Project, after being legally bound to stay there. Bannion explains that Dazzler used her “freaky light powers” to brutally knock him and his partners out. O’Mara asks him if he believes she’s capable of murder, to which Bannion replies affirmatively. O’Mara then proceeds to the examination of Wendell Vaughn aka Quasar, security chief of Project Pegasus. O’Mara reminds him that he came in direct physical conflict with Dazzler and asks him if – given the chance – she would have killed him. “Definitely not!” Quasar retorts. He stresses that Alison showed excellent judgment and restraint, even in combat.

A short recess is called, during which Ali thanks Barnett on doing an excellent job. Barnett urges her to call him Ken. Alison, in return, urges him to call her Ali. Barnett confesses he can’t believe how hostile the Pegasus witnesses are – except her fiend, Wendell Vaughn. Alison explains they’re a tight little group and she wasn’t their most cooperative guest. Apparently, this is their way of getting back at her.

The trial resumes and Barnett enquires Mr. Meeker. Meeker admits that he shadowed the defendant for weeks and then coerced her into accompanying him to Project Pegasus. Meeker insists that national security demanded it. O’Mara then cross-examines Meeker and asks him why he requested Dazzler to visit the Project. Meeker replies that they believed both Alison and the country would benefit from study of her mutant abilities.

Eventually, the prosecution calls Alison herself to the stand. O’Mara asks them how long she’s had these powers of hers, to which Alison replies that she discovered them in her early teens. She admits she’s been practicing and honing their use for ten years now and uses them in public as special effects when she sings. O’Mara finds it odd that, after demonstrating so much control, she claims she were unable to prevent Klaw’s total absorption. Barnett cross-examines Ali, making her reveal that, when she confronted Klaw, security chief Vaughn was unconscious, about to be killed by Klaw, with the rest of the Project’s staff in retreat from the villain. Ali also reveals that, if she was willing to let Klaw kill Quasar, the villain would have let her alone, but she didn’t give in. O’Mara returns, asking Ali if she thinks her special abilities out her above the law. Ali admits she’s got to observe the law more than anyone else.

Less than sixty minutes later, the jury finds Alison not guilty of the charges. Barnett congratulates her and an exhilarated Ali thanks him; after all, it was he proved her case for her. Quasar also hugs her and Dazzler thanks him for taking her side. Even O’Mara apologizes to her, clarifying he was just doing his job and his personal view is that Klaw got what he deserved. Barnett believes they should go celebrate in Chinatown. As he leads the way, Alison thinks that, however justified her actions were, a man died by her hand. That’s a fact she’ll have to face forever.

Characters Involved: 


Letha, Poundcakes, Screaming Mimi, Titania (all Grapplers)

Unnamed Ryker’s Island inmates

Mr. Bannion, Dr. Bronner, Mr. Meeker, Quasar (all Project Pegasus staff)

Kenneth Barnett (Dazzler’s attorney)

District attorney O’Mara and his unnamed assistant

Judge Evander Clinton


Courtroom audience

Dr. Paul Janson

Judge Carter Blaire

Bella Blaire

Harry S. Osgood

Lancelot Steele

Cassandra Ferlenghetti

Sid Sterling

Frank (Dazzler’s neighbor)

Federal Agent Kronsky and other unnamed agents

Vinnie and various unnamed workmen

Unnamed people in restaurant, in movie theater and in the streets

On videotape:



On movie screen:

Cavemen & dragon

Story Notes: 

Dazzler went missing for over a week, during which she was kept at the Project Pegasus base, where she accidentally absorbed Klaw’s physical totality, effectively unmaking him [Dazzler #9] and subsequently had adventures in outer space. [Dazzler #10-11] She performed at the Burger Clown opening and saved Harry from Techmaster in Dazzler #12.

Dazzler turned down X-Men’s offer of membership in X-Men (1st series) #131.

The Grapplers were apparently imprisoned at Ryker’s Island, following their defeat by Giant Man II at Project Pegasus. [Marvel Two-In-One #56]

The villainess Titania that appears here is not to be confused with her namesake that debuted in the Marvel Super-Heroes Secret Wars mini-series a few years later.

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