Loud music does not emanate from the Baxter Building on an ordinary day. Of course, any day Dazzler chooses to visit the Fantastic Four at home is no ordinary day. While Johnny Storm rocks out on guitar while Ben Grimm backs him up on saxophone, Alison Blaire, sporting her magnetic roller-skates, sings and glides effortlessly across the floor, all the while converting the blaring music into dazzling displays of light. Dazzler enjoys hanging out with the Fantastic Four; there are few people in the world who view her mutant ability as cool rather than freakish, after all. She only wishes Reed Richards would join in the fun instead of tinkering with yet another invention.
Suddenly, Reed twirls around in his chair and, with his elongated arms, puts an end to everyone’s fun. Party time is over, he tells them. “How would you know, Reed? It never started for you!” Johnny says. Thing, meanwhile, informs him he doesn’t appreciate the interruption, especially because he was beginning to play “Tiger Rag”. Johnny is similarly perturbed, although he admits he thought they were playing “Purple Haze”. Nevertheless, Mr. Fantastic informs them why he had to stop their jam session: he invented a new weapon for Dazzler to use and wanted to show her immediately.
He presents her with modified cassette player. Dazzler is stunned, but not in the way Reed expects. “Weapon? I come over for a friendly visit,” she says, “… and suddenly you’re designing weapons for me?” Reed explains that using the data from Dazzler’s internment at the Pegasus Project – of which she does not want to be reminded – as well as his own research, he was able to modify an ordinary cassette player to emit extraordinarily high sound-levels. Its power, he says, can equal that of five-thousand police sirens! She will be able to defeat any foe.
Johnny interjects, but Alison, sensing his intentions, tells him she can speak for herself. Defiantly placing her hands on her hips, she tells Mr. Fantastic that if she actually got off on fighting super-villains like the Fantastic Four do, she might appreciate such a handy-dandy device. However, she doesn’t, and wants nothing to do with that lifestyle. She’s not a fighter, like they apparently think she should be, and not a lawyer, like her father wants her to be. She’s a singer; she uses her powers to entertain. That’s all.
Invisible Girl chooses this moment to make her presence known. She reappears right next to Alison and asks her to calm down; Reed only meant well. After all, Dazzler has faced some fairly daunting opponents in the past few months, whether she wanted to or not. Despite her own assertions to the contrary, Dazzler cannot help but recall the foes she’s faced since emerging on the music scene: Lightmaster, who turned her against Spider-Man; Doctor Doom, who forced her into the nightmare dimension; Galactus, who coerced her into retrieving his errant herald Terrax; and the Techmaster, who fought desperately, and violently, to reveal the secret of her powers. Maybe she will accept the weapon after all, she says, suddenly sweating bullets. However, she insists she intends to use it only to spiff up her act. Certainly, Reed says; if she needs to defend herself, she will have it, just like a can of mace. He begins to show her how to use the weapon, but Alison, not being in quite the mood, puts it away and tells him she will give him a call if she has questions. Thing, meanwhile, lifts his sax back to his rocky lips and asks Johnny if he knows the opening to “Mood Indigo”.
Elsewhere, Warren Worthington III, the winged mutant known as Angel, soars high above Gardendale, Long Island, in search of Judge Carter Blaire’s abode. He finally spots it and lands. After changing into his civilian clothes, which conveniently conceal his wings, Warren rings the doorbell. Alison’s grandmother answers. Warren introduces himself, adding he is a friend of Alison’s, and cuts to the chase: he understands Alison’s mother Katherine disappeared many years earlier, and he intends to find out what fate befell her. It’s important to him – and Alison. Stunned, Grandma Blaire lets him inside at once.
Meanwhile, not too far away, a befuddled Judge Carter Blaire stares vacantly into the courtroom over which he presides. He begins to murmur about his estranged wife, Katherine, inadvertently interrupting one of the court’s attorneys. The bailiff notices his absent-mindedness and urges him to call a recess. As the judge is escorted out of the room, the attorneys cannot help but comment on his decaying mental state. He used to be such a good role model, a lawyer says, but lately, he seems quite spooked.
Later, in the Bowery, where the desperate and the downtrodden often seek refuge, the villainous Crusher Creel checks into a seedy hotel. After sharing some curt words with the hotel matron, Crusher heads upstairs with a Rolling Stone magazine tucked under his arm, ignoring the clerk’s brash reminder to not booze it up in his room. As he stomps down the hallway, the hotel’s rattled patrons open their doors and look for the noise-maker, intent on giving him an earful. However, upon glimpsing the burly, bald-headed behemoth in person, most of them duck back inside and mind their own business. The Absorbing Man can do whatever he wants, as far as they care.
Crusher sulks as he enters his disgusting room. Ironically, he has enough gold with him to stay in the finest hotels in Manhattan. However, he needs to lay low for a while until he comes up with a way to get back at the Avengers. Last time they met, it seems, they stole his ball and chain – as well as his pride. He intends to get them both back. His ability to absorb the properties of any material he touches, including the iron bed frame on which he now rests his hand, makes him potentially unstoppable. To demonstrate, he rips off his shirt, revealing his shiny, iron body, and smashes the hotel room’s furniture to smithereens. He may have the power… but he still needs a plan.
He could have benefitted from having a plan last time he encountered the Avengers. They caught him by surprise when he only wanted to lay low! They kept at it, however, and eventually, he was forced to retreat into the ocean, where he absorbed the property of water simply so he could drift away and escape. It proved to be more difficult than he anticipated. He struggled to hold his aqueous form together, and the strain was so great, it drove him mad. When he woke up, he hadn’t the faintest idea about his own identity. He wound up on Easter Island, at which point he regained his memory, just in time to fight the Hulk. In order to stand a chance, he absorbed the properties of the island itself, and grew to immense, stony proportions, but still could not withstand one of the Hulk’s sucker-punches. It knocked him not only into the water, but also into a coma, one he remained in for months.
Some nearby natives mistook the floating giant for an island and docked. All was well until they started a campfire, which finally brought the Absorbing Man back to the realm of the conscious. He stood up and towered over the frightened natives, who mistook him for a god. Deeming him the “island spirit”, he lorded over them, and whenever anyone challenged his rule, he turned to stone and crushed them in combat. Eventually, he grew bored of that decadent lifestyle, and using gold stolen from the islanders, he made his way back to the States. He now intends to get his revenge on the Avengers, and to do so, he will use a secret weapon… Dazzler!
Dazzler, meanwhile, is hanging out in her new friend Vanessa Took’s apartment, talking about music. Alison sometimes wonders why she bothers to sing when the she must compete with the incredible voices of singers like Janis Joplin and Billie Holliday. Vanessa reminds her that the legendary singers are supposed to inspire, not depress. Ali knows, although she wonders if she will ever reach that level of fame. First worry about getting good, Vanessa advises. Suddenly she remembers she needs to get to her voice lesson with her new teacher. Ali was about to leave anyway for her date with Ken.
A few hours later, Alison takes in a chilly, early-April Yankees game with Ken Barnett. Admittedly, Ken is neither a fan of baseball nor cold weather, but he endures both for his baseball-enthusiast girlfriend. Rather abruptly, he tells Alison they need to talk. Certainly, Alison says. However, one of her favorite players scores a hit, and she immediately forgets Ken and stands up to cheer. After she settles down, Ken asks why she was so cold toward him the other night. Was that Angel guy on her mind or something?
She tells Ken to get real; Angel is nothing but a conceited rich kid who happens to be a super-hero and who happens to have a school-boy crush on her. He’s a jerk, she says; she could never go for him. As she utters these words, however, Alison suddenly second-guesses herself. Angel did take her on a romantic, aerial tour of the city, and they did, in fact, share a kiss. But he is a jerk, she tells herself. Isn’t he?
The game recaptures Alison’s attention. While she watches, Ken informs her that although she has the right to date whomever she wishes, he earnestly hopes she does not let Angel come between them. “Oh Ken, I wouldn’t hurt you for the world. You know that,” she says. The two then kiss amidst the roar of the crowd.
Meanwhile, in his office, Dazzler’s manager Harry S. Osgood reviews audition tapes with his right-hand man, Lance Steele. Osgood scoffs at yet another talentless singer. Lance mostly agrees, but tries to get the attractive starlet’s number from Osgood before he tosses out the tape. Exhausted, Osgood decides to watch one last audition tape, but before it can play, he and Lance hear a loud crash in the reception area. Someone’s broken into the office, Osgood shouts! Lance announces he will deal with the intruder, but he speaks a moment too soon.
The office door splinters and in walks the shirtless, daunting, Absorbing Man. He demands to know which of the two men is Harry Osgood. Right here, Osgood says, his voice quivering. Crusher approaches him. “Listen, tubby, I saw your ad in that rock and roll rag – the one with Dazzler and the Avengers,” Crusher says, referring to the picture in Rolling Stone. “I need to find that chick – tonight! Where is she?” he demands, grabbing Osgood by the collar. Harry insists he does not know.
Lance grabs an ashtray and hurls it at the Absorbing Man’s head while he isn’t looking. It ricochets harmlessly off his head. Enraged, the Absorbing Man lets go of Osgood and turns toward Lance, grabbing him by the arm in a crushing grip. That was a stupid thing to do, especially to a guy made of iron, he tells the frightened Lance. He informs the two men he could snuff them both without batting an eye, and he will, unless they tell him where he can find Dazzler. He begins to count down from five. Lance gives in after only two seconds, and spills that Dazzler is at the Spearmint Lounge on West Forty-Fifth Street. Crusher binds the two men and leaves. After Lance apologizes for selling out Dazzler, Osgood tells him he understands, but wonders what fate is now in store for Alison.
That night, at the Spearmint Lounge, the week’s hottest night club, Dazzler and her band treat the audience to a glorified synergy of light and sound. Even after performing nonstop for an hour, Dazzler doesn’t tire. She takes a brief moment to thank the audience before informing them they “ain’t seen nothing yet,” and Beefer kicks off yet another rocking song.
Unbeknownst to her, the Absorbing Man watches through a skylight on the club’s roof. Dazzler’s striking beauty almost makes him rethink his mission. Almost. It’s a shame such a cute girl will have to die, he says.
Below, Alison continues to mesmerize her audience with her lightshow, blissfully unaware of the Absorbing Man’s sinister intentions. Deciding to take her act to the next level, she reaches into her purse and turns on the modified radio Mr. Fantastic gave her. It emits a high-pitched noise that initially awes Dazzler. However, it quickly gets out of hand, and unleashes so much power it sends Alison’s light-transmutation ability spiraling out of control. She glows so brightly she temporarily blinds several members of the audience. Panicked, they rush toward the club’s exits. Dazzler realizes a riot might ensue if she doesn’t do something, and immediately after reaching into her pocket to switch off the radio, she addresses the audience and tells them they just witnessed a special-effect malfunction. If they calm down, the show can continue. She even offers a refund to anyone who wants it.
Having witnessed this display, the Absorbing Man is awestruck. He initially intended to merely use Dazzler to bait the Avengers, but has a much better idea inspired by what he just saw.
After the set ends, Dazzler immediately finds the club’s owner and apologizes profusely for the malfunction, for which she takes all the blame. He has no doubt it was her fault, he says, but admits she handled the crowd quite well. If she wants, she can still have her second show, he says. However, any refunds will come out of her paycheck! Dazzler agrees and enters her dressing room, all the while cursing the name of Reed Richards. I’m gonna return this thing to the FF tomorrow, she says, throwing the modified radio in her makeup box, …along with a piece of my mind!
Shortly thereafter, Dazzler’s second set begins, although this time without the added frills of her lightshow. She cannot help but ask the timeless philosophical query: is the Dazzler the Dazzler without her dazzle? Not that it matters; she will just have to perform extra hard for this show, she tells herself.
She doesn’t have to worry about it for much longer. The back wall of the club seemingly explodes, and in walks the Absorbing Man, his body having adopted the strength and durability of a brick wall. “Dazzler! I want YOU!” he says as he charges the stage. Alison immediately recognizes him, and recognizes the fact that she is not possibly interested in whatever he wants from her. She darts toward the backstage area, hoping to lead the Absorbing Man away from the frightened crowd. But what will she do after that, she asks? Suddenly, she remembers the weapon given to her by Mr. Fantastic; maybe she can use it to stop this particular villain. She heads to her dressing room to retrieve it.
In a truly futile move, Alison shuts and locks the dressing room door. The Absorbing Man smashes the entire thing to splinters mere moments later. Nice try, he says, before reminding her that no lousy door can keep him contained. Alison frantically digs through her makeup box in search of the radio. The Absorbing Man smashes the table and sends the contents of the box falling to the floor. “I know what you’re looking for, lady,” he says as she reaches for the radio, “…but I want it too.” He picks up the radio before she can grab it and holds it to her face. “Is that what you used to make that crazy light before? Answer me! Is it?!”
“Y-yes,” Alison answers, confused. Thankfully, Crusher believes her. Now, he intends to make her tell him all about it. After absorbing the properties of the room’s iron radiator, he breaks down the exterior wall and takes Dazzler with him into the alleyway. He intends to use her as a hostage and trade her life for those of the Avengers, and hopes to use the supposed light-emitting device works against the superhero team. If she follows his orders, he says, she’ll come out of this okay. If not, she’ll die for sure.
Alison cannot help but remember Reed and Susan’s warnings. Sure enough, yet another super-villain is threatening her life and using her as if she were a piece of property. It’s not fair; she never asked for this kind of life. Crusher barks at her, bringing her back to reality, and tells her to quit stalling and explain how the device works. How can she explain to him that the machine is useless to anyone who doesn’t possess her mutant power? All Crusher will get out of it is a loud noise.
Nevertheless, she gives it a try. She shows Creel the proper volume settings and begins to explain that both the cassette player and the special cassette were made by one of the world’s top scientific minds. Creel asks her to can it; he has heard enough speeches in his life. With everything in place, he presses the play button, and the device whirrs to life. It emits a sound so powerful, Creel screams and throws up his arms in shock. The noise drives him crazy. Clutching his ears, he accuses Dazzler of trickery, and charges at her. She skates away as fast as she can; the noise only seems to be making him angrier. Unfortunately, he grabs her by the shoulder and throws her to the ground. If she doesn’t tell him how the machine works, he says, he will snap her like a twig!
“You… you want to know how it works?” she asks. “Okay, it’s like this -- first you have to be a mutant sound transducer,” she says, springing to her feet. “Then, you have to have a super sound-source whose sonic energy you can transducer into light,” she adds, this time kicking him in the shin with the heel of her roller-skate. Creel finally notices the bright light he saw in the club emanating from Dazzler’s body. “Then,” she adds, “you have to use all your will-power to forget the fear inside that’s telling you to give up, and then you’ve got to put on all the dazzle and laser energy you can, so that even a guy who fought Thor and the Hulk will maybe get what’s coming to him!” She releases all the light she can muster, sending Creel flying backward against the alley wall.
The flash of light finally subsides. Dazzler, her body still smoking, picks herself up off the ground. Has she made her point yet, she asks? Creel doesn’t answer. Alison turns and asks her question again, but the sight she beholds horrifies her. Instead of defeating the Absorbing Man, she transformed him into a fifteen-foot tall being composed entirely of crackling light energy. This can’t be! she shouts.
It is, the Absorbing Man says. Thanks to Dazzler, he has more power than ever, and he intends to use it to settle his score with the Avengers – after he deals with Alison, that is.