Dazzler #20

Issue Date: 
October 1982
Story Title: 
Out of the Past!

Danny Fingeroth (writer), Frank Springer (penciler), Vince Colletta (inker), Don Warfield (colorist), Janice Chiang (letterer), Dennis O’Neil (editor), Jim Shooter (editor-in-chief)

Brief Description: 

Bella Blaire hires a psychiatrist to bring her son Carter out of his catatonia, but the doctor informs her he can do nothing. Hoping Carter’s daughter Dazzler might be able to retrieve him from his trance, Warren Worthington III sets out to find her. After getting mugged in Central Park, Dazzler vows to only use her powers to entertain from now on. Later that afternoon, however, she breaks her vow in order to save her friends from Doctor Sax and Johnny Guitar, a pair of vengeful musicians. Dazzler decides she might have to concede to becoming a hero after all. Moments later, Warren arrives and tells Dazzler her father needs her immediately. Meanwhile, Barbara London confesses to Vanessa Tooks that she is Dazzler’s mother.

Full Summary: 

Dazzler, walking with an evil swagger and a sinister gleam in her eye, speaks to her father in a venom-laced voice. “You,” she says. “You must pay for what you’ve done to me! You will pay!”
Her father, Carter Blaire, cowers at the sight of his vindictive daughter. He insists he always did what was best for her. “For me,” Alison asks, “—or for the little girl you always wanted me to stay?!” As she speaks, she seemingly transforms into a younger version of herself. This must be madness, Carter gasps! Not madness, Dazzler says while changing back into her adult form, but vengeance! Vengeance for robbing her of the mother she never knew. Vengeance for robbing her of the right to live a normal childhood. Vengeance for trying to rob her of her only passion in life – singing. She refuses to let him take any more from her, and intends to do whatever is necessary to ensure it.
Carter screams, tells his daughter to stay away, and even calls her a freak. Alison merely sneers at his insults. She knew he always thought of her that way. She knew he never considered her good enough to be his daughter. “Well, that’s all about to end, old man,” Dazzler says. She charges up her mutant power and begins crackling with bright white light. “For you… everything is about to end!”

Carter falls to the floor and screams. While he pleads for his life, in the background, a woman bathed in shadows smiles in approval. Dazzler’s body suddenly flares up as she unleashes the totality of her stored light energy on her helpless father. The burst of energy completely incinerates him, leaving nothing but smoke and ashes. Dazzler stares at the remnants triumphantly. “He’s gone, mother,” she says to the mysterious, silent woman. “Gone. We’ve destroyed him.”


“They’ve destroyed me,” Carter Blaire mutters repeatedly. “The two who hate me the most in the world…destroyed me.” He unconsciously clutches the armrests of his chair. Trapped in his own mind, he cannot even hear the psychiatrist calling his name.
Eventually, the doctor gives up, and confesses to Carter’s mother, Bella, that he has exhausted every known psycho-therapeutic method for drawing someone out of a trance. At this point, the only remaining option is hospitalization.
Bella does not know how to respond. If she could only reach Alison, perhaps she could end this nonsense once and for all. The doctor agrees Alison’s presence might help, but reminds Bella that Alison also seems to be the source of Carter’s withdrawal. Bella just doesn’t understand. Alison and Carter love each other so much; if only they weren’t both so darn stubborn!

While Carter continues mumbling about betrayal and destruction, the other man in the room, Warren Worthington III, comforts Bella Blaire with a hug. He regrets he cannot do anything to help, even with his vast financial resources. Bella sighs and thanks him for providing so much comfort to her. Warren, also known as the superhero Angel, may have entered into this mess only to win over Alison Blaire’s heart, but now that he has seen the tragedy of this family’s personal lives up close, he refuses to abandon them.

Venting, Bella states this situation was inevitable. Carter always hid his true feelings, and stored them alongside his rage and confusion. It was only a matter of time before he reached a breaking point. The word “confusion” lingers in Warren’s ears for a moment. It certainly must have been confusing for Carter to have a daughter with such different goals than his own. Plus, Carter never accepted the fact of her mutant nature. That, coupled with his problems with his wife, most likely saddled him with a deep sense of failure. No wonder it finally caught up with him, Warren thinks to himself.

Despite the severity of her son’s condition, Bella asks the psychiatrist if they can refrain from doing anything too drastic for a while, at least until she can find Alison.

Meanwhile, Alison, deep in thought, strolls through New York City’s Central Park along a shade-covered path running by the river. She doubts she will accomplish much of anything today; she had such a late breakfast with Vanessa Tooks, and now, it is almost time for the luncheon at Hunch’s loft. She realizes taking a bus would be much quicker, but she wants to at least work off the day’s first heavy meal before indulging in another.

She walks under the shadow of a bridge. To her shock, a man emerges from the shadows and grabs her from behind. If she doesn’t give him a hard time, he says, he won’t have to kill her! All he wants in the gold brooch she wears on her chest. The mugger rips it off forcefully. Alison, however, refuses to let her cherished memento go so easily. Switching on her radio, she realizes she should feel grateful to still have her life, but gratitude never came easily to her. She transduces the sound waves from the radio into a blinding light and dazzles her mugger senseless. He falls to the ground, unconscious.

Alison approaches his motionless body to retrieve her brooch. When she sees her attacker up close, however, she discovers he is only a kid, no older than fifteen. Is this what her life has come to, she asks? Using her powers to take down bad little boys? Well, if so, then that’s it! It’s like I’ve always said. I’m not a hero – and I won’t take the moral responsibility for using my powers the same way they do, she vows. Right then, Alison makes a pledge to herself. I don’t care if the whole blamed world’s about to blow up, I’m never gonna use my powers to do anything but entertain!

She leans down to pick her brooch up off the ground, and notices it opened up during the fall. She never noticed its hidden latch. Looking inside, she sees two tiny photographs. One of the pictures is of her father, albeit at a much younger age. The other photo, however, is a man she doesn’t recognize at all! Who is this man, she asks? A revelation hits her hard; this could be another man with whom her mother involved herself. Boy, Alison says, some pleasant stroll through the park this turned out to be.

Elsewhere, Dazzler’s friend and fellow singer Vanessa Tooks has just made a startling discovery after wandering into the wrong room in her voice instructor’s home. This certainly isn’t the kitchen, she thinks as she beholds a room filled entirely with posters, promotional materials, magazines, and scrapbooks all about Alison Blaire, the Dazzler. How bizarre, Vanessa thinks as she rummages through the memorabilia. Barbara London happens to walk by and catches Vanessa in the act. How dare she snoop around in her house like this, Barbara shouts! Vanessa tries to explain what happened, but Barbara kicks her out of her home before she has the chance.

Meanwhile, at a spacious loft rented by Dazzler’s bassist Hunch in downtown Manhattan, Beefer, Marx, and Hunch’s girlfriend Dora hang out eating the remnants of the afternoon’s luncheon. Beefer, flipping through a copy of Franz Kafka’s The Castle, compliments the hosts on their nifty apartment. Hunch admits they could never afford such a nice place if they weren’t sub-letting. He sits on the floor playing with his infant son. Marx asks Hunch to turn the child around so he can get some good footage of him playing with his father on his new camcorder. Dora reminds Marx to please not twist her son’s head off.

The buzzer suddenly rings, indicating the arrival of Dazzler. Dora greets her at the door, says they saved her plenty of food, and asks what kept her so long. Alison tells her she suddenly had a lot of things to ponder. She walks over to Hunch and admires his beautiful baby. He looks more like his father every day, she says. Too bad, Hunch answers; he was hoping the baby would be good-looking! Dora then leads Dazzler into the kitchen, but she stops for a moment and asks if she can make a quick phone call to her manager, Harry S. Osgood. No problem, Dora says.

Alison’s timing is fortunate. While she makes her phone call from the bedroom, everyone else in the loft begins to hear an unsettling, earsplitting noise emanating from outside the loft. Suddenly, the locks on the door begin vibrating uncontrollably and then completely falling off. To everyone’s amazement, the entire door explodes inward. Two men, both bearing musical instruments, enter the loft, and Beefer recognizes them both immediately; it’s none other than Doctor Sax, and Johnny Guitar! Sneering, Johnny Guitar expresses how delighted he is to hear they didn’t forget about them. He and Doctor Sax didn’t forget about Marx, Hunch or Beefer, either. The members of Dazzler’s both parties suddenly remember the fateful night, years earlier, when they crossed paths.


Beefer, Hunch, and Marx – just starting out their careers as rock musicians – play a sold-out show in the Midwest with two other musicians, guitarist Johnny Logan and saxophonist Jack Dulouz. After the show, Beefer, Hunch, and Marx stroll through the basement of the venue in search of the manager’s office, hoping to ask for better microphones for their next performance.

They enter the manager’s office, but to their surprise, find him bound and gagged in the corner of the room. His captors appear to be their fellow band members, Jack and Johnny. Johnny tells them to shut up and remain quiet; Jack needs absolute silence in order to hear the tumblers fall into place while he cracks the manager’s safe. They intend to take this theater for everything it has, Johnny declares, and no one, including a bunch of meddling musicians, can stop them!
The imposing Jack stands up and points his acetylene torch at the three intruders. Johnny, meanwhile, lunges at them and cracks Marx over the head with a crowbar. Beefer takes a swing at Jack, but misses and falls to the floor
. Jack kneels over him and, with a malicious smile on his face, slowly draws the acetylene torch closer to Beefer’s head. Seeing his friend in mortal danger, Hunch kicks the torch away from Beefer and directly into Jack’s eyes. He screams as the torch seers him blind.
Beefer takes advantage of this rescue and, intending to repay the favor in-kind, runs over to help Marx. Thankfully, Marx flips Johnny over his back and throws him toward the door. Johnny gets up, unsuccessfully hurls the crowbar at the three men, and takes off running down the hallway. Beefer and Marx give chase. Johnny begs them to leave him alone, even offering a cut of the loot, but the heroic musicians refuse, and tackle their former associate. Security arrives shortly thereafter and arrests the two crooks.

end flashback

He and Jack did some hard time after that incident, Johnny Guitar now tells the captive band members. They spent a lot of time in prison contemplating exactly how they planned on repaying the men who foiled their plans, especially for what they did to Jack’s eyes. After they were released, they met up with a man named the Techmaster who equipped them with some exciting new technology, which they have since used to pull off a few more heists. The time has now come, however, to finally get their revenge.

Fortunately, neither Johnny Guitar nor the sharp-dressed Doctor Sax has any idea someone else is in the loft. Dazzler overhears the threats these two men make to her friends, but she also remembers her pledge from earlier in the day. She swore she would only use her powers to entertain! She never dreamed fate would test her so soon.

Meanwhile, Johnny Guitar begins his act of vengeance. He strums a chord on his stringed instrument. The sound shatters a nearby vase of flowers. He strums another chord; Marx’s camcorder falls apart. He strums yet another chord, and an amplifier in the corner explodes. Now, he turns to his hostages, and tells them the Techmaster warned him to never use his amplified instrument on a human being, as it could turn them into a pile of human jelly.
Instead of using it on them just yet, however, he turns the floor over to his associate Doctor Sax and gives him a turn to shine. Doctor Sax, wearing a visor over his eyes, lifts his saxophone to his lips and begins playing an eerie note. Techmaster rigged the horn to affect the moods of its listeners however Doctor Sax wants, Johnny informs them. He can make them feel happy and serene, or, just as easily, desperate and crazy. At this point, Doctor Sax chooses the latter, and plays a note that sends everyone in the room reeling. Everyone in the room, including the toddler Justin and the nearby Alison Blaire, suddenly plunges into feelings of despair and terror. These feelings only cease when Doctor Sax decides to stop playing.

Ugh, the nightmare is finally over, Hunch says once the dissonant melody ends. Wrong, Johnny Guitar tells him; his nightmare is just beginning. The diminutive guitarist walks over to Dora, strokes her chin, and asks how she thinks they should take care of the rest of these rats. Dora, frozen in fear, stutters for a few moments before Johnny pulls her in and plants a kiss on her lips. She tries to pull away, but his grip holds her close. Hey, Hunch shouts! He lunges toward the guitarist and tells him to leave the lady alone. Unflinching, Johnny Guitar orders Doctor Sax to take care of the angry Hunch. My pleasure, Doctor Sax says, as he grabs Hunch by the neck and hurls him into the wall.

Hunch recovers from the impact and asks a pressing question: how did Doctor Sax manage to find him without having the ability to see? Isn’t he blind? “As the proverbial bat, Hunch,” Doctor Sax says. However, Techmaster created a special pair of glasses just for him that allows him, via radar, to get a general sense of his surroundings. Johnny Guitar thanks his associate for the science lesson and then orders his hostages to form a circle… or else.

Alison, meanwhile, looks on with a feeling of conflicted horror. If she uses her powers to save her friends, she will betray her oath. If she does nothing, however, her friends will die!

Meanwhile, at the London residence, Barbara apologizes to Vanessa for snapping at her. She values her privacy very much and swore Vanessa was snooping. Vanessa tells her everything is okay; it’s just that Alison Blaire is a good friend of hers, and when she found a room devoted entirely to her career, she could not help but take a peek. Barbara explains the memorabilia all belongs to her daughter who recently left for college. Clearly, Barbara says, her daughter idolizes the singer. She finds a picture of her and shows it to Vanessa. She’s pretty, Vanessa says while looking at the photograph of the cheery young woman. She asks about the man standing beside her in the photo. That, Barbara says, is her daughter’s father, and her own ex-husband.

Downtown, meanwhile, Harry S. Osgood waves goodbye to Angel as he flies out his office window. He searched for Dazzler all over town; her home, her office, and now, he can think of only one place she might be, and he would prefer to not go there. Reluctantly, he flies to Ken Barnett’s office and raps on the window. Boy, has he got some nerve, Ken thinks to himself at the sight of the potential cuckold. Reluctantly, he opens his window and speaks to the winged superhero. What is it, he asks?

“Look, Ken. I know you don’t think much of how I’ve been chasing Alison while she’s been dating you,” Warren begins, “…but that’s unimportant now. Her dad’s in a bad way, and he needs her. Any idea where she is?” Ken tells Warren that Alison did, in fact, mention a party at Hunch’s loft… but he doesn’t know where to find it. Harry Osgood might know the address, though. Angel leaves, thanking Ken for the lead.

Meanwhile, Johnny Guitar positions his hostages in a tight ring on the floor. He carefully situates them so that once he plays the appropriate chord on his guitar, the entire ceiling will cave in! Before he proceeds with the execution, he asks Doctor Sax if he would like to have a little fun first. Of course, Doctor Sax says. Johnny scoops up the toddler Justin, despite the pleas of his parents, and holds him still while the cruel saxophonist begins to play. He creates a melody even more horrifying than before and directs it right at the innocent child. Justin screams and cries.

Dazzler, still eavesdropping, cannot remain ambivalent any longer. She steps out from around the corner and stares at the two villains, commanding them to stop. With her roller skates on and her radio blaring, she leaps forward, snatches the frightened baby from Johnny Guitar’s arms, and heads for the door. The two wicked musicians, noticing how brightly she glows, realize she must be the famous singer the Dazzler! Doctor Sax refuses to let her seeming stage tricks fool him, however. They chase after her as she flees the loft.

Unfortunately, her attempted escape route leads her into the kitchen, which offers no other exits. Johnny Guitar and Doctor Sax enter behind her, and thinking they have her trapped, begin to attack. Johnny plays a note on his guitar that shatters both Alison’s portable radio and her magnetic roller skates. She stumbles to the floor and slides across its slick surface. She refuses to admit defeat, however, especially when the life of the child in her arms depends entirely on her actions.

Johnny Guitar begins playing his next note, which he declares will make Dazzler and the child look like refugees from Scanners. Alison feels as if the music might rip her apart. However, she is the wrong person to attack with sound. Turning toward the guitarist, she transduces the sound energy into light and deflects it back into Johnny’s face. Blinded, he screams and falls to the floor.
With him out of the way, Doctor Sax steps up and tells Dazzler her parlor tricks will not work on him! He begins crooning a note with his saxophone. With dread, Alison realizes her dazzle attack will not work on a blind man, even one with radar vision. Doctor Sax plays a series of notes more horrible than ever; she and the child, he says, will die slowly and maddeningly. The dreadful song overpowers Alison, and she soon wonders if it might not be better to just die.

The thought of all the people who need her help – Hunch, Marx, Beefer, Dora, and poor, innocent Justin most of all – gives her the strength she needs to fight. Urging herself to stay strong, Dazzler whips around and destroys the twisted musical instrument with a small-scale laser blast. Surprised, Alison asks? Hasn’t he ever met a sound-transducer before?

Enraged, Doctor Sax declares that even without his saxophone, he can best Alison in physical combat. He is bigger and stronger, after all. Alison, realizing she may be sunk, asks the imposing criminal if they can’t talk out their conflict. He reminds her he and his accomplice didn’t come there to talk. Desperate, Alison spots a food-processor on the counter and hits its “on” switch. It whirrs to life, creating an obnoxious amount of noise. As she prepares to transfer the sound energy into light, however, Dazzler realizes that attacking in her current, frazzled state of mind might be disastrous. She might not have control over the intensity, or the trajectory, of such an attack; she might kill Doctor Sax. She cannot risk it; she must find another way.

Taking advantage of her hesitation, Doctor Sax springs forward and grabs Dazzler by the forearm. Let go, she shouts! He’ll let her go, he says, only after he wrings the life out of her body! Desperate, Alison reaches for the closest thing she can find – a pot of cold coffee. “Here’s mud in your eye, doc!” she says as she splashes him in the face. Lucky for her, the water in the coffee causes Doctor Sax’s visor to short-circuit.
She rejoices in her victory a moment too soon; Doctor Sax might now be blind, but he can still be deadly. He thrashes about the room, hoping to connect at least one blow with Alison in the process. Good luck, she tells him; after all, she is a dancer, and can therefore dodge his blows with ease! Using the kitchen counter as a springboard, she lifts her self off the ground and swings her legs into his chin. He stumbles; she kicks him again. He finally falls to the floor, defeated. “Understand, Doc?” Dazzler asks while catching her breath. “I couldn’t let you do it… I couldn’t let you destroy these people, their dreams, their hopes, their lives…”

Oh, what am I raving about, she asks herself. He’s out cold.

A short tine later, the authorities arrive and, once again, arrest Johnny Logan and Jack Dulouz. In the aftermath, Dazzler’s grateful friends and associates thank her endlessly for saving their lives – but admit they had no idea she was a mutant. They honestly believed her light-shows were nothing more than fancy stage effects! They even call her a super-hero. Alison adamantly rejects such a title. She begins to insist she is only a performer, just like them. However, she trails off and gives up on the assertion mid-sentence. “I don’t know what I am any more,” she says, shutting her eyes. “Maybe there is some kind of responsibility that comes with this power, like my friends have been trying to tell me. Maybe I found that out today.” Her friends tell her they do not care what title she adopts. They will love and cherish her no matter what! Sincerely grateful, Alison thanks them for their support, adding they have no idea how much their kind words mean to her.

Just then, Angel arrives, elated to have finally found Alison. What does he want, she asks? Is this another one of his pranks? If only, Warren tells her. Unfortunately, the situation is quite grave. Her father has withdrawn into his own psyche, and her grandmother thinks she might hold the key to releasing him. He picks Alison up in his arms and carries her out the window, en route to the Carter Blaire residence. Alison just sighs. When is this going to end?

Meanwhile, at the London residence, Vanessa Tooks continues her voice lesson. As she finishes singing “Somewhere over the Rainbow”, she notices tears streaming down the face of Barbara, her instructor. What is it, Vanessa asks? Is her singing that awful? Of course not, Barbara tells her, sobbing. She just cannot keep her secret to herself any longer. She admits to Vanessa the collection of Dazzler memorabilia is not her daughter’s but her own. Of course, that should not come as a surprise, because after all, she is Dazzler’s mother!

Vanessa gasps. Can it be true? Barbara collapses in her arms, and through her sobs, confirms it is the truth. She kept it a secret for years, but now, after meeting one of her daughter’s friends, with whom Alison sings, and laughs, and works, the gravity of her secret hit home. It’s alright, Vanessa says to the bawling woman. She wonders, then, if the girl in the photo is not Barbara’s daughter. She is, Barbara confirms, and so is Alison. Vanessa assumes the man in the photo must therefore be Carter Blaire. Barbara corrects her. “That man is many things,” she says, “…but he is most definitely not Carter Blaire.”

Characters Involved: 

Dazzler/Alison Blaire
Angel/Warren Worthington III

Beefer, Hunch, Marx (Dazzler’s band)

Dora, Justin (Hunch’s family)

Johnny Guitar/Johnny Logan

Doctor Sax/Jack Dulouz

Bella Blaire

Carter Blaire


Vanessa Tooks

Barbara London

Teenage mugger

in flashback only:

Mr. Holman (concert venue owner)

in photograph only:

Lois London (Barbara’s daughter)

Nick Brown (Barbara’s former lover)

Story Notes: 

One of the magazines in Barbara London’s secret room clearly pays homage to the cover of Dazzler #4.

The super-villain names of both Johnny Guitar and Doctor Sax are pop-culture references from the 50’s. Johnny Guitar is the name of a 1954 western film. Doctor Sax, meanwhile, is the name of a novel by Beat poet Jack Kerouac in 1959. That novel’s main character’s name also happens to be Emil Duluoz, clearly the inspiration for Doctor Sax’s surname.

This is not the only Jack Kerouac allusion in this issue of Dazzler, or even in this series. The members of Dazzler’s band seemed to be named after characters from Kerouac’s novels. Marx, for instance, seems to be named after Carlo Marx, a character from Kerouac’s On the Road. Special thanks to Omar Karindu and marvunapp.com for making this connection.

Although Techmaster has not been seen since Dazzler #12, and is never seen again in this series, his reign of terror, stemming from his electronics shop, continues in this issue.

Doctor Sax threatens to turn Dazzler and baby Justin into “refugees from Scanners.” Of course, he is referring to the 1981 sci-fi/horror film directed by David Cronenberg, which is best known for its opening scene in which a telekinetic character, played by actor Michael Ironside, mentally forces another character’s head to explode. Makeup artist Dick Smith deserves credit for creating such a memorable image.

Neither Nick Brown nor Lois London is named in this issue.

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