Dazzler #23

Issue Date: 
January 1983
Story Title: 
Fire in the Night!

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

Brief Description: 

A professional arsonist named Flame sets fire to Dazzler’s apartment building. Thanks to Dazzler’s quick thinking, everyone escapes, but Dazzler, suspecting the Sisterhood’s hand in the fire, remains uneasy. Unbeknownst to her, the Sisterhood has no interest in getting back at her… except for the brooding Rogue. The next day, Flame strikes Dazzler’s recording studio. She now fears for her life and hires Iron Fist and Power Man as bodyguards. While her hired muscle searches for the Sisterhood, Dazzler visits her landlord to find a new place to stay, but finds him in cahoots with the vindictive arsonist. Flame captures her and intends to incinerate her in his next burn, but she escapes and defeats him just as her tardy bodyguards arrive. Meanwhile, Dazzler’s sister, Lois London, experiences the effects of a mysterious malady.

Full Summary: 

Alison Blaire wakes up to find her apartment filled with smoke. Immediately, she suspects foul play on part of the Sisterhood, a conclusion fueled more by her own paranoia than any evidence. She leaps to the window and checks outside, but sees no signs of the fire department; this fire must have just started. Thinking there might be time to quell the blaze, Alison darts across the living room, leaps over her sleeping half-sister Lois London, and checks the hallway. It too is filled with smoke. Alison takes her chances in the inferno and feels her way to the fire alarm box in the hallway. Surprisingly, she finds it broken, in a clear act of sabotage.

Inside Alison’s apartment, Lois finally wakes up and, in a state of confusion, evaluates her unfamiliar surroundings. The last thing she remembers was talking with Alison late into the night. She assumes Alison put her to bed after she fell asleep.
After coming to her senses, she sees the smoke filling the apartment, and her frantic half-sister fiddling with the phone. Lois remains silent while she watches Alison move from the phone, which is broken, to the radio, where she cranks the volume to its highest levels. Lois watches her lean out the open window and begin glowing inexplicably. She has seen this effect during Alison’s shows, but she always assumed it was a special effect. She never imagined Alison produced the lights from her own body! To think, she only came over to meet her newfound half-sister, whom she admired as a singer and performer. She never imagined the reunion would go so well—or that her half-sister possessed superpowers.

In the streets below, a pair of police officers sees the vibrant light emanating from Dazzler’s window and proceeds to investigate. Alison informs them of the fire and of the technical malfunctions. Stay calm, the officers tell her; they summon help immediately! To their surprise, they discover that neither the nearby alarm box nor the emergency police phone works. The officers swear both devices worked earlier that day during their patrol. Regardless, they have a radio in the car.

Dazzler, meanwhile, continues her light signal in hopes of attracting other help. She happens to illuminate a darkened corner of an alley across the street and sees a familiar figure darting for cover. That looks like Rogue, she thinks, assuming the Sisterhood of Evil Mutants must have come for her. She cannot believe their audacity at torching a building full of innocent bystanders simply to get to her!

The building's other tenants finally wake up and begin evacuating. Alison and Lois put some extra preparation into their own escape. Lois douses some thick blankets in the bathtub, while Alison stuffs some belongings into a tote-bag. Finally prepped, the two sisters cover themselves with the wet blankets and proceed into the inferno.

They only make it a few steps before Alison someone in need. Mrs. Shaugnessy, her elderly neighbor, carrying her caged pet-bird in her hand, stands trapped behind a fallen, burning timber. Alison moves to save her, but Lois implores her to reconsider; they cannot do anything on their own! They need to escape so they can send for help. Alison refuses to leave the innocent woman behind. She reaches into her bag, powers up her radio, and transduces the noise into a laser beam, which she uses to cleave the downed beam in two. It falls away from the frightened Mrs. Shaugnessy. Alison approaches her elderly neighbor, wraps her in an extra wet blanket, and escorts both her and her birdie out of the burning building. Lois watches in awe. Not only does her big sister pal around with heroes, she apparently is one herself. Alison, Lois, and Mrs. Shaugnessy get free of the building right as the fire department arrives.

Once things settle down, Lois takes her sister aside and asks her the burning question: is she a mutant? "Yes, Lois, I am," Alison says, her gaze averted to the side. "Now are you going to call me a freak?" Of course not, Lois says. She only wondered because her mother never mentioned anything about it. She calls Alison special. She has power, and the heart to use it. She thinks Alison is wonderful. "Yeah. Wonderful," Dazzler responds. "They can carve that on my tombstone."

Meanwhile, in a nearby alleyway, the mysterious arsonist starts his silent-running motorcycle and high-tails it out of there. He finally stops at a phone booth, well out of the radius of suspicious activity, and makes a phone call to his employer. He reports that some woman created a light beacon and summoned help, botching his arson job. However, he intends to take care of her as soon as he can. He gently hangs up the phone. His calm demeanor completely belies the furious rage burning inside of him. He is Flame, an arsonist for hire. His bright-red, flame-decaled suit insulates him from the scorching heat of his work. Similarly, he insulates his own conscience from the guilt a normal man would feel after committing such atrocities. Now he is angry. He will get revenge.

Back at the burning apartments, after the firefighters finally get the blaze under control, the building owner, Crowley, arrives just in time to scold his tenants. What have they done to his building now, he asks? A feisty tenant tells the owner to blow it out of his ear; they nearly died in his death-trap of a building! Crowley, chomping on a cigar, sighs. Of course they would blame him, he says. He reminds them he offered them the opportunity to purchase co-op shares in the building so they can take part in financing its upkeep. Without their financial support, he can only afford to meet the absolute minimum fire standards, and he intends to do just that! He walks away, once again reminding them to buy shares in his co-op offering as he goes. Alison cannot help but note the callousness in his voice. He would probably like nothing better than to get rid of the entire apartment building, including its tenants! But even he wouldn't stoop so low as to set fire to his own building, would he?

Elsewhere, Mystique addresses her Sisterhood, Destiny and Rogue, about their upcoming plans. She decides to refrain from attacking Angel for now. Instead, the Sisterhood will let him stew in his own fears while they wait for the perfect chance to strike at the X-Men. Mystique also declares they will not worry about exacting revenge on the Dazzler. She is just a foolish bystander who defeated them by luck alone. To retaliate against her would be pointless. Rogue disagrees; there is more to Dazzler than meets the eye. Doesn't Mystique remember the "great tragedy" Destiny saw in Dazzler's future? Mystique asks why that matters. She understands Rogue feels a certain infatuation for the singer she once admired, but the best interests of the Sisterhood lie elsewhere, in more productive ends. Rogue feigns agreement. Destiny, however, sees right through the charade. She knows Rogue will try something, but she also realizes Rogue is young, and must be allowed to make her own mistakes.

The following day, Dazzler and her band undergo a dress rehearsal at one of New York City's many cable TV studios. The recording crew and camera men give Alison tips and ask her to relax a bit. Alison worries more about how her band sounds. Her manager, Harry S. Osgood, tells her she sounds wonderful, and since his opinion is the only one that matters, she need not worry.

Two men suddenly barge onto the set right as the techs begin preparing for Dazzler's light show. Who are these clowns, the technician asks? The two men, Iron Fist and Luke Cage the Power Man, insist they are not clowns, but heroes for hire, responding to Dazzler's request for protection. Sorry everyone, Alison says, but this is important! She steps off the stage for a moment to converse with her potential bodyguards.

In private, she tells the two men her story. Just a few days earlier, she thwarted the scheme of three mutant women, and suspects they now want revenge! She thinks they may have torched her apartment building. Her good friend, Warren Worthington III, suggested she hire protection, and referred her to Luke Cage and Iron Fist. She remembers meeting them at her Carnegie Hall after-party, and feels like she can trust them. She explains she has other hero friends, like the Avengers and the X-Men, but she would feel strange asking either for help. She wants Iron Fist and Power Man to find out if the Sisterhood is after her, and if so, do something about it. These heroes for hire gladly accept Alison's case, and even offer her a discount rate of one-hundred dollars per day. Thanks, Alison says. She can probably get an advance from her manager to get the payments started.

Somewhat abruptly, Power Man asks if the room seems unusually smoky. Iron Fist concurs; it's almost as if the studio is on fire. Sure enough, the three heroes turn around and discover flames quickly spreading through the room. Alison screams; the Sisterhood must be after her again! Somebody do something, she shouts! Unfortunately, there is little the captive musicians and sound technicians can do. Someone emptied the fire extinguishers, destroyed the fire alarm, and cut the phone line. This fire is no accident.

Power Man asks everyone to calm down, but as he speaks, the ceiling rumbles and falls toward the floor. Before it can crush everyone, however, he reaches up and stops it using his super strength. Everyone out of here, Luke commands! While he holds up the ceiling, Iron Fist, Dazzler, and everyone else rush toward the emergency exit. Iron Fist reaches out to open the door. The handle breaks off in his grip; someone has tampered with the exit.

Iron Fist looks back toward the smoky room full of frightened people. He realizes that the people cannot survive much longer in such dense smoke. Likewise, his friend Power Man can only hold up the ceiling for so long. He realizes he is the only one who can save them all. Drawing on his martial arts training, as well as his deep reserves of Chi energy, Daniel Rand powers up his hand, making it as strong and forceful as iron, and punches a hole in the side of the building. Suddenly they have an escape route. Everyone clears out of the room, except Luke Cage, who still bears the weight of the ceiling on his shoulders. Once everyone clears, he heaves the ceiling upward, darts for the exit, and leaps through the hole just as the thick beams come crashing down behind him.

Power Man, Iron Fist, Dazzler and her band all watch solemnly as the building burns to the ground. Thankfully, the building sits on a largely uninhabited city block, making it the only casualty. That doesn't ease Iron Fist and Power Man's certainty that someone is after their target. It also doesn't ease the fear Alison now has for her own life. "Oh Beefer, what am I gonna do?" she asks her rotund drummer. He tells her everything will be okay; she's safe. "Beefer, I'd be safer eating plutonium!" she says.

On a rooftop across the street, Flame admires his latest work. However, the sight of his intended target escaping with her life amplifies his rage. He repels off the rooftop, mounts his motorcycle, and flees the scene of the crime. Revenge will have to wait.

The next day, Barbara London and her daughter Lois partake in some bargain shopping at Gimbels. Lois recounts to her mother how much fun she had with Alison. She always admired the Dazzler as a singer; to learn she is her blood relative is exciting beyond belief! Lois does refrain from revealing the secret of Alison's mutant nature to her mother, though. She does not want to be the one to give Barbara that news. Barbara smiles at her daughter's jubilation. She would have told her earlier, but had to keep it a secret because of her own distance with Alison.

Lois suddenly grows light-headed and collapses. The department store staff revives her a few minutes later using some smelling salts. When Lois comes to, she blames her faint on the smoke she inhaled in the apartment fire, and tells her mom she wishes to continue shopping. She would hate to go back to college out of fashion! Her cheery demeanor hides some deep fears, however. She didn't want to worry her mother, but she has felt this sharp pain in her head — and fainted — several times before. She naively hopes whatever ailment she has goes away with time. It has to, right?

Later that day, an uncharacteristically ragged-looking Warren Worthington III sits at the counter of a greasy diner and broods over a bitter cup of coffee. Dressed in a trench-coat, with his unshaven face obscured by a wide-brimmed fedora hat, Warren contemplates the gravity of his situation. The Sisterhood is gunning for him, surely with the intent to kill. He and Alison barely escaped the other day. He would seek help from Professor X, but due to the apparent loss of his dear X-Men, the professor is far too depressed to do anything. Warren realizes he must fight the Sisterhood on his own. He strolls over to the diner's arcade machine and, while playing a game of "Space Invaders", begins formulating a plan.

The next night, at Ken Barnett's apartment, Alison mopes over the home-cooked meal he prepared. She apologizes; the food is delicious, but she is too anxious to eat another bite. The Sisterhood has her afraid to return home. They even have her afraid to go near any of her loved ones, lest they end up as collateral damage. Ken tells her she doesn't need to worry. Admittedly, he may not have any superpowers, but he promises to protect her, and even offers her a place to stay. Alison thanks him, but tells him neither one of them would be safe in Ken's apartment were she to reside there. Ken tries to convince her otherwise, but with her mind made up, Alison soon leaves. She gives Ken a goodbye hug and sets out on her own. At first, she decides to meet up with her bodyguards, but a brilliant idea sends her in another direction. Maybe Crowley, her landlord, has another place she can rent while she hides. She proceeds to his office immediately.

Meanwhile, over on 42nd Street, Luke Cage and Danny Rand grab some dinner from a pizza cart. Luke enthusiastically offers to treat Daniel to dinner. "Wow! And after you spent seventy-five cents on that pizza for yourself," Iron Fist jokes. Switching topics, Daniel admits the Dazzler case bothers him. After all, why would three heavy-hitting mutant baddies waste their time with two-bit arson jobs if they wanted to assassinate Dazzler? Luke Cage agrees; they would surely employ more direct, reliable methods. It doesn't figure. Iron Fist suggests they drop the hunt for the Sisterhood, and instead investigate possible other perpetrators in Dazzler's case.

Alison, meanwhile, arrives at her landlord's building and heads toward his office. She can hear his blaring voice all the way down the lengthy corridor; it sounds like he is busy chewing someone out. She hesitates a moment before opening the door. This reticence gives her a moment to absorb some of the high-octane conversation. She hears Crowley scolding someone for torching a music studio; that job was not part of the deal! It was sloppy and dangerous for both of them! Intrigued, Alison opens the door a crack to get a look at the other party. She sees Flame, wearing his insulated red suit, barking back at Crowley across his desk. Flame tells Crowley he had to get rid of the Dazzler. She thwarted his first fire; she has to die! "Bull!" Crowley shouts. "You were hired to burn my building — a standard insurance number. When you start pursuing personal vendettas, you jeopardize me — and I don't need that!" Flame tells him if he wanted to hire cheap hoods, he should have hired someone else.

Unfortunately, Alison leans into the door, a move that elicits a loud creaking noise. Flame lunges toward the door and grabs the eavesdropper by the arm. Look who it is, he says; the Dazzler! He quickly ties her up, but Crowley orders his goon to let the woman go. Flame refuses. He is on his own time, and therefore can do whatever he wants. "You're sick, Flame," Crowley says. Flame reminds his employer he didn't think that when he first hired him. He calls Crowley a hypocrite and a coward and leaves with the bound Alison slumped over his shoulder like a roll of carpet.

Flame secures his prisoner on the back of his motorcycle and rides into the night. Along the way, Flame boasts about the amazing technology that allows his bike to operate without producing any noise. He went to the best mechanics on the East Coast and had them produce a muffling system that ran quiet. He wanted a bike as elegant and efficient as he is. Alison's heart sinks when she realizes the bike runs silently; it won't provide any sound for her counterattack.

They finally arrive at an abandoned warehouse by the river. Flame takes his prisoner into an old storage bay and throws her against the wall. Someone paid him to torch this building tonight; he intends to give Alison front-row seats to the fire. She shouldn't have messed with his plans, he says. Unfortunately for her, she won't meddle with anyone else's plans, ever again. He leaves her bound and gagged on the floor while he goes to prepare the blaze.

With Flame away, Alison has plenty of time to contemplate the hopelessness of her situation, as well as any possible means of escape. She thinks of one way out, one shot to escape with her life, and proceeds to set her plan in motion. Slowly, she squirms her way across the floor and over to Flame's motorcycle. She miraculously manages to start its engine. With the easy part out of the way, she begins on the hard part: removing the muffler. Alison wriggles into a position where she can grip the motorcycle's chrome addition, gets her fingers around it, and pulls, slowly working the muffler out of its mounts. With a loud KRAK!, it comes loose, unleashing the loud roar of the bike's engine. Alison transduces the noise into a concentrated laser beams and cuts her bindings.

Flame returns just as Alison slips on her magnetic roller skates. Don't even think about stealing that bike, he threatens as he storms into the garage. He produces a pair of fireballs from his gloves and hurls them at Dazzler. "Like your fellow singer Jerry Lee Lewis might say, 'Goodness, gracious, great balls of fire'! Some joke, huh?" Flame asks. Dazzler skates toward her captor, deftly dodging his fireballs along the way. He continues to taunt her. She tells him that for a guy who claims to like silence, he certainly talks a lot! She unleashes a dazzler-burst and puts Flame down for the count.

Flame goes down, but his threat is not yet extinguished. His wayward fires ignite the fuel he spread around the building. Dazzler prepares to escape, but Flame recovers his senses and challenges her yet again. He calls her a freak because of her mutant powers, which, by the way, pose little threat to him because of his tinted goggles. Dazzler ignores his taunts and charges at him on her skates. Moments before impact, she unexpectedly somersaults, a move that allows her to rip the fire-producing gloves from his hands. That should even things up a bit, she says! Flame tells her the fight is far from over. Not only does he have his sight back, but he also has his flame sword! He draws the fiery saber out of its scabbard and presents it to the frightened Dazzler.

Far from defenseless, and still fueled by the noise from Flame's motorcycle, Dazzler produces a weapon of her own: a laser-sword, stemming from her index finger. She threatens to cut him into pieces for fondue. Flame gasps. Dazzler strikes at him. Although Flame admittedly finds her weapon impressive, he intends to use his superior fencing skills to prevent her from properly using it. He's right! I'm no Luke Skywalker when it comes to dueling, Alison tells herself, but then, he's no Darth Vader!
She scores a hit on his sword hand, causing him to drop his weapon. Still far from powerless, however, Flame lunges at Dazzler and knocks her to the ground. He doesn't need anything other than his bare hands to kill her, he says! The Dazzler refuses to die like this. Flame has tried to kill her three times, and has probably caused the deaths of a lot of innocent people. He's slime, she tells him, and he's also close enough for her to dazzle him senseless! Using all the energy she can muster, she unleashes a dazzle-burst so bright, and so drawn-out, it finally knocks Flame unconscious.

Mere moments after her victory, Iron Fist and Power Man come to the rescue. Dazzler asks how they found her. While scooping up the dazzled Flame in his arms, Power Man explains they interrogated Crowley and learned everything, including the location of Flame's next job. They figured they might find Alison there. Soon, the emergency vehicles arrive to put out the blaze, and the police finally arrest Flame, putting a stop to the arsonist's long string of crimes. Power Man congratulates his partner on a job well done; they did their good deed for the day. Even more importantly, Iron Fist says, is that they ensured the life of Alison Blaire is no longer in danger! Dazzler angrily asks if they can be so sure about that. Her query hangs in the air, heavier and far more unpleasant than the thick clouds of smoke that fill the night sky.

Meanwhile, Rogue examines a picture of the Dazzler she tore out of the newspaper. "Mystique may think you're no threat... but ah'm not convinced," the Sisterhood's most spiteful member says as she crushes the paper in her fist. "So look out, honey — ah'm comin' for ya!"

Characters Involved: 


Iron Fist

Power Man



Destiny, Mystique, Rogue (all Brotherhood of Evil Mutants)

Barbara London

Lois London

Harry S. Osgood

Lance Steele

Beefer, Hunch, Marx

Bitchy assistant

Mrs. Shaugnessy


Various tenants

Story Notes: 

This is the first appearance of Flame. He won’t appear again until Heroes for Hire (3rd series) #3.

Chronologically speaking, this issue takes place sometime between Power Man & Iron Fist #82 and #83. Dazzler first met Power Man and Iron Fist after her Carnegie Hall concert in Dazzler #21.

Daniel Rand-Kai, also known as Iron Fist, is an adept athlete and martial artist. He developed the power of the Iron Fist by plunging his hand into the molten heart of Shou-Lao, the Undying Dragon. As a result, he can re-channel his Chi energy for various purposes, among them powers of healing, and hardening his fist into a state not unlike iron.

Luke Cage, also known as Power Man, underwent an experimental augmentation while in prison, and as a result, possesses steel-hard skin, superhuman strength, and enhanced stamina and recuperative abilities.

The Sisterhood has a grudge against the X-Men and Angel because they foiled Mystique’s Brotherhood’s plan to assassinate Senator Kelly back in Uncanny X-Men #141-142. Rogue has a grudge against Dazzler because she foiled the Sisterhood’s attempt to get revenge on Angel last issue.

After much ado, Barbara London introduced herself to her estranged daughter Dazzler in Dazzler #21.

Professor X is depressed because he believes the X-Men died after being kidnapped by Deathbird and the Brood. In his grief, and partially because of the influence of the Brood embryo gestating within his own body, Professor X recruits a new team of mutants, aptly dubbed the New Mutants, around this same time. He will not see his X-Men again until Uncanny X-Men #167.

Dazzler’s mid-duel Luke Skywalker/Darth Vader analogy is a reference to the Star Wars franchise, specifically the second film, The Empire Strikes Back, in which Skywalker and Vader engage in a heated light-saber battle that ends with the severing of someone’s hand.

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