Dazzler #21

Issue Date: 
November 1982
Story Title: 
Alison Blaire, This Is Your Life!

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: 

Dazzler returns to her father Carter’s house and brings him out of his stupor, but reignites the feelings of betrayal he feels toward her. He finally tells Dazzler the story of her mother, a lounge-singer who got swept up in the booze, drugs, and extramarital sex that accompany showbiz’s seedy underbelly. Carter has never forgiven her for her part in ruining their marriage. Meanwhile, Alison’s friend Vanessa Tooks gets the other side of the story from Alison’s estranged mother, now going by Barbara London. Barbara explains how after she left Carter, she had a child with another man, but when the marriage turned abusive, she took their daughter and left. She has been teaching music ever since. Vanessa, hoping to reunite Barbara with her daughter, makes her promise to attend one of Alison’s concerts. The opportunity arrives when Dazzler’s sleazy new promoter lands her top billing at a star-studded charity concert. All of Dazzler’s friends and superhero allies attend, as do both of her parents. Stressed out about the recent revelations about her mother, Alison worries she might botch the big performance. To make matters worse, people keep offering her drugs. Fortunately, her father finds her backstage before the show, and the two reconcile. Alison decides to quit her singing career before it ruins her life, but as she prepares to leave with her father, Vanessa arrives backstage and tells her she must perform because her mother is in the audience! Torn, Dazzler decides to do the show, and gives one of the best performances of her life. Afterward, while her friends go out partying, she waits backstage hoping her mother will find her. Barbara does eventually arrive, and the two women share a tearful reunion embrace. Carter arrives and sees his wife for the first time in years, and on good terms, no less. After the brief reunion, Alison returns home to a find a surprise party in her apartment, and ends her tough, transformative day surrounded by her best friends.

Full Summary: 

High above the streets of Manhattan, Warren Worthington III, the winged mutant hero called the Angel, soars eastward toward Long Island. In his arms, he carries Alison Blaire, the singer known as Dazzler, who possesses the mutant ability to transform sound into light. As they glide through the maze of New York City high-rise towers on their way to a rendezvous with tragedy, the two recall the events that led to this moment.

Warren remembers the day he found the letter from private investigator Jessica Drew in Alison’s apartment. From this, he learned Alison sought her estranged mother, and seeking a way to win over Alison’s heart, vowed to find her. Meanwhile, Alison’s father Carter finally succumbed to the accumulated betrayal he felt both from estranged wife Katherine and his defiant daughter Alison. He retreated into a state of catatonia. Bella, Carter’s mother, called Warren for help. She could not reach Alison, as Alison found herself occupied battling the pesky villains Doctor Sax and Johnny Guitar. Warren finally caught up with Alison afterward and informed her she needed to return to her father’s house, which brings them to where they are now. Hopefully, Alison’s presence will draw Carter’s psyche back from the void. Realistically, the outcome is uncertain.

So lost are the two heroes in their own thoughts, they fail to see their friend Spider-Man adhering to the side of a nearby skyscraper. Spider-Man even swings out into the open air to greet them, but they don’t even notice when he swings right across their line of sight. Those two have must something heavy on their minds, he thinks.

At last, Angel and Dazzler arrive back at Carter Blaire’s house on Long Island, signifying the beginning of the latest of Alison Blaire’s ordeals. She walks inside and gives her grandmother a big hug. Bella tells her she is so glad she came; Carter’s condition continues to worsen, and she hopes Alison can reach him. The on-call psychiatrist interrupts, reiterating his distrust of this plan. As far as he can tell, most of Carter Blaire’s psychiatric decay seems centered on his daughter. Her intervention might worsen his stupor and drive him further into his dream-world! He advises they immediately get Carter professional help in a professional setting. He may be right, Alison says, but he may just as easily be wrong. She has to try something. A battle rages on in her father’s head, a battle between love and hate, bitterness and hope, and Alison must try to tip the odds back in favor of the good side! She holds her head up high and walks into her father’s study.

“Dad? It’s me, Alison,” she says. Carter, sitting in his armchair, remains motionless. Alison anxiously waits for a response, but she can barely hear over the sound of her own fluttering heart. She notices Carter’s face redden, and his grips tighten. Unbeknownst to his daughter, a tidal wave rages within Carter’s soul that engulfs his very being and drives him closer to his breaking point. Will her presence bring him out of his stupor, or send him even further into the depths of insanity?

Alison asks once more if her father can hear her. Miraculously, Carter speaks. “I… hear you, Alison,” he says. Although initially relieved to hear her father speak, what Carter says next makes her feel worse than ever. He says he can hear her, but has yet to hear the words he wants to hear, the words for which he has waited for years! Where are they, he asks? Has Alison returned to beg his forgiveness, or simply to taunt him again, as she always has? Alison tries to cut it and stop him, but he speaks over her while rising out of his chair. If Alison is not ready to ask for his forgiveness, then the living hell he experienced will all have been for nothing!

Alison, turning her head to hide her wounded expression, realizes that although her father has returned, he is the same as ever. He still wants to control his daughter’s life and overwhelm her with guilt! She turns toward him and asks him to listen to himself. Why does he insist on acting like Alison did something to awful to him, when all she ever tried to do was be a loving daughter? Maybe he should apologize for trying to remake his daughter in his own image. Maybe he should apologize for concealing the truth about her mother! Can he fathom how life feels without knowing one’s own mother, Alison asks? Fine, Carter says. If she wants to know about her mother, he will tell her, although it means exposing her to the harsh truth from which he has spend years protecting her. “In the beginning,” he tells Alison, “…your mother and I were very much in love.”

Our courtship and the early years of our marriage were the happiest days I’d ever known, Carter narrates. A jazz singer, Katherine performed all over New York City, from Greenwich Village to Harlem. After she and Carter married, she continued her singing career, while he attended law school. He intended to become the world’s best lawyer, and thanks to the financial support of his talented wife, he managed to graduate magna cum laude from Empire State University’s law school. His wife and mother were both proud. A year later, Katherine gave birth to little Alison Blaire. Carter hoped, with the birth of their child, as well as his stable income, that Katherine would finally put her music career to a rest. He never fully approved of her singing; he merely viewed as a means to his own ends. Katherine, however, refused to drop her passion. Carter tried to convince her seedy bars were no place for a wife and a mother. He asked her to pursue an honest career instead. Katherine insisted she was a singer at heart. Not a teacher, not a nurse, but a singer.

The newly married couple fought often, and bitterly, and neither party ever truly emerged victorious. As her domestic life turned into a nightmare, Katherine began spending more and more time at bars and clubs with her showbiz friends. Amidst all the heavy drinking, she fell in love with a man named Nick Brown, who epitomized everything Carter hated about that lifestyle. Nick had neither musical talent nor a job – in fact, no one knew what he did for a living – but he always had an ample supply of cash, booze, drugs, and charm. He swept Katherine off her feet. Whether she truly loved him, or simply wished to hurt her husband, Carter doesn’t know to this day. He regrets not stepping in and doing something about it; had he been less passive, maybe she would still be his wife.

Nevertheless, because Katherine betrayed him, Carter refuses to forgive her. He recalls that she always kept a brooch with two pictures in it: one of her husband, and one of Nick Brown. To Carter, that brooch always symbolized the failure of their marriage. To now see his very own daughter wearing it, Carter feels as if Alison is rubbing his nose in that failure!

He continues his story. As time wore on, he saw his life less and less, until one afternoon, while Carter took Alison to the playground, Katherine deserted her family. In her goodbye note, Katherine said she left more for Alison’s sake than anything, as she refused to allow her daughter to grow up in an environment like the one she and Carter had created. So she showed her love for you, Carter now says to Alison, …by walking out.

Although Katherine occasionally returned his calls, she refused to meet in person. Carter did the best he could to raise his daughter the right way. With the help of his mother Bella, they made sure Alison studied so she could enter into the honest and honorable profession of law. “Instead, you, too were seduced by the fool’s gold glitter of show business,” he says, “and asked for my blessing for your chosen path! Asked me to condone your wasting your mind… your life… the way your mother did!”
Enraged, Alison gets out of her chair and walks away, all the while yelling for her father to stop. He has twisted the story into a sick version of itself, Alison says, as tears stream down her face. It could not have happened that way! She turns, runs out of the house, and throws herself against a nearby tree for support. Warren chases after her. Sobbing, Alison says her father told her such vile things about her mother. The things he said cannot be true, she cries! They simply cannot!


“It’s true, Vanessa. It’s true. I… am the Dazzler’s mother,” Barbara London says, also crying. “I am Katherine Blaire.” The only noise that breaks the thick silence in Barbara London’s Upper West Side apartment is the sound of her own sobbing. She looks at the framed photo resting on her piano, of her daughter, and her former lover, Nick. The picture almost seems to taunt her. Barbara buries her face in her arms and sobs. Vanessa comforts her. Barbara, still sobbing, admits she could no longer hold back her tears. Once she learned Vanessa was a friend of Alison’s, she had to admit she was Alison’s mother. But Barbara, this is such exciting news, Vanessa says! She suggests they call Alison right away and tell her. Barbara vehemently refuses. Alison must never know this secret. Vanessa apologizes; she should have realized. However, she asks if it might not help if Barbara told the story, just to get if off her chest. “Maybe it’s time I told somebody,” Barbara says in agreement.

She explains that while she lived with Carter, she was not the best wife. Not to say Carter was the best husband, either; they fought constantly, eventually forcing Katherine to leave. She shacked up with Nick Brown, a fellow showbiz parasite, who introduced her to every seedy element of the business. However, they loved each other. Once she finalized her divorce with Carter, she immediately married Nick. Before long, however, she realized he loved other women just as much. She arrived at a party once, unexpectedly, and spotted Nick making out with another lady. Katherine left before Nick saw her. However, she refused to give up on another marriage. She loved him, after all. They soon had a child. Katherine thought a child might improve things between her and Nick, but it only exacerbated things.

As his drinking worsened, Nick turned violent, and resorted to hitting his wife. Barbara recalls one such occasion, when he struck her in front of their daughter, Lois. The confused Lois, trying to comfort her mother, asked why daddy always hits her. Katherine told her daughter not to worry; she would be fine once she found her “happy powder”. Realizing her life had reached a new low, the drug-addled Katherine decided to do something before she delved beyond a point of no return. She left Nick, just as she had left Carter, only this time, she knew another man would not solve her problems. Additionally, this time, she took her child with her.

“I started my life over from scratch, got myself cleaned up, straightened out,” Barbara London tells Vanessa. “I changed my name and pursued a music career, but only as a teacher. I never wanted to face an audience again.” She explains she built herself a secure, isolated world, one that held together for a long time… until Vanessa came along. However, she cannot add a meeting with her daughter to the mix. She has caused her enough pain already. At the very least, if Alison never meets her mother, she can always cling to the belief that she was a decent, honorable woman, and a good mother. Vanessa can only imagine how Barbara must feel, but adds Barbara might carry her burden of guilt farther than she needs to. “That’s for me to decide,” Barbara says.

Vanessa asks if Barbara has ever seen Alison perform. No, Barbara says; she always worried she would do something foolish, like run to Alison after the show. If that’s the case, Vanessa says, then she will just have to blackmail her! If Barbara comes with her to see one of Dazzler’s concerts, then Vanessa promises to keep her secret. She owes it to herself to see her daughter perform at least once. Although Barbara doesn’t believe the blackmail threat at all, she agrees to think about the proposition. Good, Vanessa says, before asking if they can finally resume her singing lesson.

The next day, Dazzler, sitting in her apartment clothed only in a bathrobe, ponders the previous day’s revelations. Can what her father said be true, she asks? Did he leave anything out, or make anything up? How will she ever learn the truth? Where, she asks, is her mother these days? She doubts even her father knows.

Suddenly, the phone rings, graciously interrupting Alison’s tormented train of thought. It’s Harry S. Osgood, her manager, calling with a gig. After accepting the job, Alison gets dressed and heads to his office downtown. Osgood’s catty assistant Cassandra makes her usual negative remark as Alison enters the office, but Alison, feeling surprisingly confident, ignores the insult and walks directly into her manager’s office.

Inside his office, Alison finds Osgood chatting with a sleazy concert promoter named Les Mitchell. Les, dressed in a garish pin-striped suit, an unbuttoned undershirt, and oversized sunglasses, introduces himself to Alison while chomping on a stinky cigarillo. Osgood begins relaying the promoter’s idea for a career-making concert for Alison, but the greasy Les interrupts and gives the pitch himself. It’s like this, he says. Everyone knows the Dazzler pals around with a lot of superheroes, so all they need to do is headline a charity concert for something like a hospital and invite all of Alison’s superhero friends to attend. The heroes show up to see the Dazzler, the public shows up to see the heroes, the show sells out, Dazzler does some good for the needy, and suddenly, she’s a household name! Of course, Les intends to take a small percentage of the revenue before it gets to the hospital, but he needs to get paid for his brilliant ideas.

Alison rolls her eyes in disgust. She doesn’t like this guy; he’s too slick and talks too fast. She would hate to exploit her friends like this; what does her manager think of the idea? Osgood loves it; he doesn’t care about exploiting superheroes at all. If, for some Earth-threatening reason, they cannot attend the night of the show, they can send a congratulatory telegram to ensure publicity. “Harry’s right, doll-face,” Les says to Alison. He then informs her where they plan to have this concert. “A famous coloratura cancelled a prestigious gig a week from tonight. That left an opening in the schedule at… Carnegie Hall!” Alison gasps; performing at Carnegie Hall is any singer’s dream. “Yeah,” Les says. “So I know you’re gonna wanna do the gig now, right?” He sidles closer to Alison and slips his hand onto her butt. Alison gasps and asks what he is doing. Unperturbed, Les tells Alison and her manager they can discuss the details later, and leaves. Osgood waves goodbye.

After counting to three, Alison turns to her manager and explodes! That slime, she shouts! He pinched her! He put his filthy paw on her and pinched her! Who gave him that right, she asks?! Harry asks her to calm down; that’s just how Les is. Surely he meant no harm. Enraged, Alison asks why that matters. Les would not have done that to her if she were a man! Osgood calls her oversensitive, but Alison calls him under-sensitive! How can he stick up for that sleaze-ball over a client who has twice now saved his life? Of course he has not forgotten his debts, Osgood says. However, he reminds her they both chose to pursue careers in showbiz, a career that encompasses both glory and sleaze. He understands her misgivings, but asks her to trust him; this concert will work wonders for her career. Alison begrudgingly agrees to do the job, but only for Osgood’s sake.

The next day, Dazzler begins her intensive rehearsal in preparation for her upcoming Carnegie Hall extravaganza. While Beefer, Hunch, and Marx blare away on their instruments, Alison puts all she’s got into the rehearsal – but today, all she’s got is the wrong stuff. While running through the intro of “Blue Suede Shoes”, Alison trips over her own microphone cord and goes falling to the ground on her magnetic roller-skates. This is no time to get lead feet, her band’s assistant manager Lance says. And can she also sing on-key next time? Alison takes a deep breath and tells him to stuff it; she’s trying her best. Admittedly, her “best” is not all that great at the moment, because she cannot stop thinking about the things her father said. She gives it another try, this time forgetting the lyrics before the song’s intro even ends. Alison berates herself. On top of things, as if she were not distracted enough, she has to deal with that creep Les Mitchell observing the rehearsal. Alison wishes he would just crawl back into his hole. She tries once more to nail the rehearsal, this time taking a suggestion of Lance’s and providing her usual, accompanying light show. Even this, she botches.

The band takes a break. Her band mates ask Alison if something is wrong. Personal problems, she tells them. They begin to ask if they can help her with anything, but Les sidles up on Alison unexpectedly and tries to reassure her. This kind of thing happens to all the greats, he says, rattling off the names of Bruce Springsteen, Elton John, and Diana Ross as examples. Alison thanks him. He leans in and whispers in her ear. If there’s anything else he can help her with – cash, companionship, happy pills, etc. – she only need ask. Dazzler recoils in disgust; she doesn’t want to hear that kind of thing! If Les has something he wants to say to her, he can go through her manager! Understand, she firmly asks? Les backs off, insisting he only meant to help. When she needs his help, Alison says, she’ll yell. The break ends, and another disastrous rehearsal begins.

The next day, Alison and Vanessa go discount-shopping at the factory outlet stores in Astoria, Queens. The outlet mall may lack class, Vanessa says… but she never cared much for class anyway. While trying on a string of cute outfits, Alison asks Vanessa how things have been with her; any interesting news? Vanessa hesitantly says no. Alison then asks how her voice lessons with her new teacher are going. Real good, Vanessa says unconvincingly. Alison mentions her most recent, dismal rehearsal, and states maybe she could use a voice lesson or two of her own. Is Vanessa’s new teacher available? Vanessa tells her that her teacher is booked solid for a while. Alison, finally sensing the awkwardness in her friend’s voice, asks if anything is wrong. No, nothing is wrong, Vanessa says, obviously lying. She promised to keep the revelation of Alison’s mother a secret, but the secrecy is killing her! Coincidentally, Alison now tells Vanessa what her father told her yesterday about her estranged mother. She finds the whole situation confusing, and vows to somehow find her mother and hear her side of the story. “Uh, Ali,” Vanessa says, “I’m getting bored here. Let’s pay and go.”

Later that night, while on a date in Chinatown, Alison relays the details of her ordeal to her boyfriend, Ken Barnett. After the revelation, she tells Ken, she left the house screaming, and Warren had to chase after her and settle her nerves. “Warren?” Ken asks. “Oh. The Angel. What’s the story with that clown, anyway?” Somewhat defensively, Alison tells Ken that Warren turned out to be quite a good friend, both to her and her grandmother. “How about us, lady?” Ken asks. “Are we good friends?” He pulls Alison in tight, and they kiss.

Ken drops Alison off at home later that night. Angel, meanwhile, waits until Ken leave, and then raps on Alison’s window. Alison excitedly opens the window and asks to what she owes the pleasure of seeing Mr. Worthington. He merely wanted to wish her luck with her upcoming concert, he says… and maybe talk. He confesses that he feels like a jerk; it’s one thing to try seducing Alison into liking him, but another entirely to pry around in her family life. Don’t worry, Alison says; Warren did not cause any of the drama, and besides, he has been quite comforting to Bella… and admittedly, to herself as well. Maybe when things level out, she and Warren could get to know each other better, she says. She leans closer. Warren tells her that would be nice. They share a kiss over Alison’s windowsill. After Warren pulls away, he tells her to take care and that he will see her at the concert with his date: Bella! “Well, don’t you get fresh with her, young man,” Alison jokes as Warren flies away.

The evening of the big concert soon arrives. To Carter Blaire, however, the night is not a cause for merriment. Although he resumed his connection with the world, the world has in turn slapped him in the face. He peruses the pamphlet advertising his daughter’s star-studded benefit concert. Finally, after reaching a decision, he grabs his things, gets in his car, and heads into the beckoning darkness of the night.

Downtown, the night is much less dark. Outside of Carnegie Hall, the lights shine brighter than anywhere else in the city, as the superhero celebrities begin arriving for the show. The Fantastic Four arrive first, dressed in their finest black-tie outfits. Soon after them, the Avengers Hawkeye, Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Wasp, and She-Hulk all arrive, dressed in their superhero uniforms. Hawkeye, basking in the adulation of the crowd, thanks his luck for deciding to return to the Avengers when he did. She-Hulk pumps her fist in support of her friend the Dazzler. Meanwhile, up above and out of sight, Daredevil swings over to Carnegie Hall’s roof using his billy-club. As much as he wants to support the concert’s cause, he feels uncomfortable exploiting his superhero identity for any reason. He changes into his civilian clothes on the rooftop before heading down to the ground; there is no reason he cannot attend the concert as blind lawyer Matt Murdock. It’s just too bad he will never get to see one of Dazzler’s infamous light shows.

Power Man and Iron Fist arrive next with their dates, Misty Knight and Harmony Lane. Quasar arrives shortly thereafter, followed by Wonder Man and Beast, the latter of whom cannot seem to contain his bountiful exuberance. Warren Worthington III arrives with his escort for the evening, Bella Blaire. All of the celebrity arrivals are photographed by none other than Peter Parker, who, after finishing his work, sneaks away and changes into his amazing Spider-Man costume before arriving.

The excited crowd outside the concert hall scoffs at the arrival of relative nobody Ken Barnett. Ken hears their dismissive remarks, and promises to remember them should any of them ever need a lawyer. Across the street, meanwhile, Barbara London asks her student Vanessa if she truly thinks attending the concert is such a good idea; Barbara no longer thinks it is. Vanessa tells her to keep her promise. Okay, Barbara says, before reminding Vanessa she intends to leave as soon as it ends. She doesn’t want to leave any chance of accidentally bumping into her daughter! Again, Vanessa tells her not to worry; she knows how she feels. “Do you?” Barbara asks. “Then that makes one of us.” As they approach the entrance, Barbara feigns a headache, but the persistent Vanessa refuses to let her get away that easily.

Backstage, Dazzler’s agitated assistant manager Lance barks orders at his stagehands. If their laziness ruins Dazzler’s career, he will put and end to theirs, he says! In her nearby dressing room, Alison hears Lance yelling at the stagehands and ponders the absurdity of show business. “It’s as ludicrous as Lance’s shirt,” she tells herself. She suddenly realizes her manager Harry has been speaking to her the entire time, yet she has not heard a word he said. After she tunes in, he reminds her to pull herself together for tonight’s show. She may be having some personal problems, but she cannot let it interfere with her job. Of course, Ali says, brushing her hair. Osgood continues, reminding her of her many error-strewn rehearsals in recent days. He trusts she has exhausted her goof quota. “Harry,” Dazzler says, “…go sit on it.” Harry, gasping, asks who Alison thinks she is – the Queen of Sheba? He leaves the dressing room and slams the door. Alison may love that man, but right now, she just cannot deal with him.

Mere moments after Harry leaves, another enters Alison’s dressing room uninvited. He introduces himself as Lucky Louie, from the warm-up band, the Tyco Brahes. Ostensibly there to provide friendship, he immediately offers Dazzler a “pick-me-up”, from which he has plenty of options to choose. Revolted, Alison stands up and tells him she is doing just fine by herself! Lucky Louie fails to get the message and asks if she might want to party after the show. Alison, grabbing a bottle of perfume from her vanity, shouts for her unwelcome visitor to get out. She throws the bottle at the door as he leaves. It shatters. What nerve, Alison thinks! Who did that guy think he was, barging in her room like that! Suddenly, Alison has a horrible thought: what if Osgood asked the man to offer Alison mood-altering drugs? No; he couldn’t have, she tells herself. Harry is like a father to her… but that isn’t saying much. She grabs Osgood’s framed photo off her desk and hurls it to the floor. Like the perfume, it shatters. Go to blazes, Harry, she says, and take the whole blamed ‘entertainment industry’ with you! She sits at her desk and sobs.

Alison hears yet another series of knocks at her door. Go away, she shouts at her visitor! He enters anyway. Does she really want him to leave, the man asks? Alison feels an upwelling of positive emotion at the sound of her father’s voice. She turns around, gets out of her chair, and runs over to him. He grabs her in his arms and hugs her tight. He begins justifying his weird actions as of late, but Alison tells him he need not. No, he insists; he must.

Carter Blaire sits down with Alison, and slowly, begins to open up. He always wanted the best for his daughter, he explains. He tried to protect her, and prevent her from making the same mistakes as her mother. “But your words – and my own recent bout with madness – made me see what was before my eyes all along: That I can advise you all I want, but you’re no longer a little girl.” Of course, she is still his daughter, but she is also a grown woman. If he continues to boss her around, he may lose her forever, the same way he lost Katherine. He could not bear going through that again. Maybe Katherine’s leaving was indeed his fault, but nevertheless, she betrayed him, and that betrayal has controlled his behavior ever since. Alison consoles her father as he begins to cry. Continuing, he tells Alison he must accept her on her own terms, even if they are not the terms for which he hoped.

Alison thanks her father for his kind words. She likes having the man back who made her childhood so joyful. However, she has not completely blocked out his sage advice over the years; lately, his warnings seem more pertinent now than ever. She has seen a new side of show business that makes her ashamed of the entire community. Not that she doesn’t still love singing and performing, but she wants to do it her way from now on, instead of shoehorning herself into someone else’s version of her career. Carter notices Alison putting on her jacket; is she chilly, he asks? No, Alison says; she’s just getting ready to leave. What does she mean, Carter asks? Alison tells him she will not be performing tonight. She would much rather go home with her father and talk. She has a whole lifetime to think about her career. Her father and her have a lot of catching up to do, however. Carter’s pride in his daughter overwhelms him. She has made him so happy already, and now, seeing her courage firsthand, he cannot help but admire her willingness to make tough decisions and change.

“Alison!” someone shouts in the hallway. Alison turns and finds herself caught in the embrace of her friend, Vanessa Tooks. Vanessa knows she is busy, but just had to come backstage and wish her the best of luck! She notices Alison wearing her overcoat; is she leaving or something, she asks? Yes, Alison says; she will not be performing tonight. Shocked, Vanessa tells her she must perform! “I promised her I wouldn’t tell you…but I have no choice,” Vanessa stutters. “I’ve found your mother, Alison – and she’s in the audience tonight!” This news catches both Alison and Carter totally off-guard. Alison can barely speak. Her mother, she asks? Is Vanessa joking? Vanessa tells her she barely managed to convince Ali’s mother to attend; if she suspects Vanessa told Alison, she will leave the venue immediately. Alison needs time to decide what to do. Unfortunately, a voice on the intercom announces she has one minute until showtime.

Alison’s choice will not be easy. A moment ago, she saw everything so clearly. She finally reconciled with her father, and wants nothing more than to return home with him. Out there in the concert hall, however, are her friends, her audience, and most importantly, her mother. This could be her only chance for a reunion.

Carter grabs Alison by the hand. The technical crew tells Dazzler to hurry; her band just began playing the intro to her first number. She hears her name announced to the excited audience. She hears the audience cheering and applauding. In the audience, her mother wonders where Vanessa went, and considers leaving before things get out of hand. Vanessa, meanwhile, wonders if she has let down both of her friends. Backstage, Harry S. Osgood wonders why Alison hasn’t taken the stage yet; she’s making him look bad! Alison, meanwhile, stands frozen, caught between the opposing forces in her life. She grimaces; a decision must be made. Suddenly it feels as if a weight has been lifted from her shoulders. “I love you, dad,” Dazzler says as she removes her coat. “And I’m sorry.”

For a moment, the Dazzler had died. But now, as she skates onto the stage with the mic in hand, she lives again! For this show, Dazzler forgoes her usual witty banter, and her interaction with the audience. Instead, she does what she does best, and sings, putting her heart and soul into the show. Tonight, the world will learn what Alison’s friends and family already know – that she is truly a dazzler.

Her performance continues for two entire hours without a break. Dazzler has never sung so well. Finally, she takes a break. Realizing she has not yet thanked her audience for showing up, for being such a terrific crowd, and for supporting both her and the Riverside Hospital, she thanks them, over and over again. She explains why she feels so energetic tonight. It seems there is someone in the audience whom she loves dearly, but has never met. So, with that in mind, she dedicates her next song to her mother. She wrote the song herself. It’s called “A Little Girl’s Dream”. She hopes her mother likes it.

Dazzler pours herself into the beautiful melody that follows. The song – a touching memoir about a young girl who grows up slowly comes to face the reality of her parents’ imperfect marriage – she performs without any frills. Once she finishes moving her audience with the lyrics, however, she lets her band take over with the instrumental crescendo. They combine their talents into a bittersweet symphony of sounds, which Dazzler transduces into a glowing, expressive, transcendent show of light. It finally ends with a flourish of cascading colors. She bows, and the audience applauds thunderously. Alison certainly appreciates their enthusiasm, but she will not truly feel satisfied until she hears the approval of the most valued audience member of all – her mother.

After the show, Alison greets an endless stream of friends and fans in her backstage dressing room. They all want her to come out to the Spearmint Lounge, but she has to decline, claiming to have important things to do. Hank McCoy says he can see that; she even has Ken Barnett on-hand to keep her company! Ken wishes that were the case, but unfortunately, Alison wants him out too. Apparently, she wants time alone with her thoughts, and as long as her “thoughts” don’t have wings, Ken is more than willing to accommodate her. Alison thanks Johnny Storm for coming, after which her manager apologizes for acting so callously before the show. He may have been under pressure, but that is never an excuse to take his anxiety out on his clients. Alison accepts his apology. She’s also been on a short fuse.

Once everyone clears out, Dazzler washes her blue performance makeup off of her face. She would have loved to go with everyone, she says, but needs to stick around to see if her mother shows up. If she left and missed her one chance at meeting her mother, she could never forgive herself.

Time passes. Alison begins to think her mother won’t be coming at all. Suddenly, she hears a set of footsteps in the otherwise silent hallway. She opens to door, but sees no one. It must have come from the stage, she realizes, and takes off running through the darkened hallways. She races through the wings of Carnegie Hall and finally arrives at the stage, where just earlier she held her most triumphant concert ever. Standing in the shadows is a well-dressed woman, seemingly waiting for something. Mom, Alison mutters? Alison, the woman replies? Alison asks if it is really her. “Yes, Alison,” Barbara London says, removing her hat and revealing her face, “…it’s me.”

The two grown women stare at one another through tear-fogged eyes, both noticing their uncanny physical resemblance. Alison breaks the moment of tension by running to her mother and gripping her in a long-overdue embrace. Barbara finally pulls away and tells Alison that while she realizes how she must feel, they must proceed slowly; surely the process will prove difficult for them both. “But I’ve got so many questions,” Alison sobs, “…so many things I need you to tell me!” They will have to wait, Barbara says. She still doesn’t know if this is the right thing to do; Alison deserves a life free from the shadow of her mother’s mistakes. “Mom, I don’t care what you’ve done. You’re my mother. I love you. That’s all that matters.”

Carter Blaire suddenly arrives and tells Katherine their daughter is right; she should listen to her. Alison and Katherine are both surprised to see him. He approaches, non-confrontationally, and takes Katherine hands. Hello, he softly says to his ex-wife. Their daughter performed very well tonight, didn’t she? Katherine agrees; Carter has made her into a remarkable woman. Suddenly, she feels compelled to leave. She needs time to think. After saying goodbye to Alison, and promising to stay in touch, she walks offstage, secretly crying tears of joy. Now alone with his daughter, Carter tells Alison he understands why she made the decision she did tonight. Whatever she decides to do with her life, he promises to support her. Alison tells him she experienced enough changes in one night to last a lifetime! In some ways, she feels more confused than ever. However, she doesn’t think she is ready to give up showbiz quite yet. With her father’s support, she knows her life will be much better no matter what she does. They hug once more, and a long night finally comes to an end.

Dazzler finally returns home to her apartment at three in the morning. Time for a good night’s sleep, she thinks as she fits her key into the lock. When she switches on the lights, however, she discovers quite the surprise. Her friends have thrown her a surprise party; since she couldn’t come out to the party, they brought the party to her! She looks around the room and sees the Thing, Iron Man, Johnny Storm, Warren, her grandmother Bella, Luke Cage and Misty Knight, Harmony Lane and Iron Fist, Spider-Man, Thor, Quasar, Beast, Wonder Man, Hawkeye, Matt Murdock, the members of her band, and her boyfriend, Ken Barnett. “Boy, you people have some nerve,” Alison says as she removes her coat, “…throwing a party without onion dip!” Iron Man tells her not to worry; he put it in the fridge so it would not spoil. While Hank puts on a record, Ken takes Alison’s hand and asks for the first dance of the evening. Certainly, she says. It’s been a tough day, but she thinks it will end quite nicely.

Characters Involved: 


Carter Blaire (Alison’s father)

Bella Blaire (Alison’s grandmother)

Barbara London/Katherine Blaire (Alison’s estranged mother)

Vanessa Tooks (Alison’s friend)

Ken Barnett (Alison’s current boyfriend)


Beefer, Hunch, Marx (Dazzler’s band)

Lance Steele (Dazzler’s assistant manager)

Harry S. Osgood (Dazzler’s manager)

Les Mitchell (concert promoter)

Lucky Louie (drug-peddler and opening-band member)

Human Torch, Invisible Girl, Mister Fantastic, the Thing (Fantastic Four)



Beast, Captain America, Iron Man, Hawkeye, She-Hulk, Thor, Wasp, Wonder-Man (all Avengers)

Iron Fist, Power Man

Misty Knight, Harmony Young
Quasar/Wendell Vaughn

Various stagehands

Various audience members

in flashback:

Nick Brown

Lois London

Story Notes: 

As revealed later on in the letters column in Dazzler #27, the woman portraying Dazzler on this issue’s cover is a Canadian named June MacDonald. The photo was taken by Eliot R. Brown and touched-up by Bob Larkin.

Angel found the letter revealing Dazzler’s search for her mother in Dazzler #17. Dazzler’s father, Carter Blaire, mentally locked up in Dazzler #18 and has been catatonic ever since. Dazzler was preoccupied by a fight with Doctor Sax and Johnny Guitar last issue, in Dazzler #20.

Dazzler saved the life of her manager, Harry S. Osgood, twice: once in Dazzler #8 and once more in Dazzler #12. Both times, she saved him from the Techmaster.

Beefer, Hunch, and Marx learned the truth about Dazzler’s light shows last issue; Lance, however, still doesn’t realize the light she emits stems from a mutant ability.

Dazzler has accrued many superhero friends since her debut. She first met Spider-Man in Amazing Spider-Man #203, Beast in Dazzler #1, the Fantastic Four in Dazzler #2, Quasar – while at Project Pegasus – in Dazzler #9, and She-Hulk in Dazzler #14. She met most of the remaining Avengers in Avengers #211.

Although the X-Men were invited to Dazzler’s concert, they could not attend, as they were busy in space fighting for their lives against the Brood at the time, as shown in Uncanny X-Men #162-166.

Hawkeye was forced out of the Avengers by the government bureaucrat Henry Peter Gyrich in Avengers #181, but returned to the team in Avengers #221.

Lettering error on page 10: a word bubble spoken by Vanessa Tooks is instead shown coming from Barbara London.

Alison is once again shown singing the Carl Perkins rock and roll classic “Blue Suede Shoes”.

Dazzler’s band must have an appreciation for the musical styling of Bruce Springsteen. In addition to warming up with his hit song “Hungry Heart”, the band also performs “Because the Night” during their rehearsal – a song first performed by rocker Patti Smith, but co-written by Smith and Springsteen.

Dazzler also sings the Bob Dylan song “Like a Rolling Stone” during practice, the same song Rolling Stone magazine in 2004 named the greatest song of all time. Speaking of rolling stones, the song Beast puts on at the end of issue, “Beast of Burden”, is performed by none other than… the Rolling Stones.

Issue Information: 

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