While attending one of her sister Dazzler’s concerts, Lois London begins feeling ill, and steps outside for some fresh air. A derelict man assaults her outside of an alley. In her terror, Lois fights back and kills the man with some new, mysterious power. The frightened Lois returns to Dazzler’s apartment for advice. Dreading the outcome of the inevitable trial, Dazzler and Lois decide to flee the city instead of going to the authorities. They head to Pittsburgh, where Lois has yet another incident with her newfound powers, this time involving a cat. Again, the terrified sisters flee and board a westward bus. Meanwhile, Henry Peter Gyrich, the head of Project Wideawake, suspects a mutant at hand in the derelict man’s murder and sends his Mutant Hunters to investigate.
There’s no business like show business. Dazzler and her band know it, her enthusiastic audience knows it, and the three armed robbers backstage know it. The trio of gun-toting men holds the theater owner by the hair and demand he give them the box office revenue from the sold-out concert. The owner, Mr. Leland, claims he can’t do it, but the thuggish Bonzo insists there is no such thing as “can’t”.
Fortunately for Mr. Leland, Dazzler catches a glimpse of the hold-up occurring backstage, but does not quite know what action to take. She could halt the concert mid-song and have someone call the police, but that might cause the crowd—or worse, the robbers—to panic. She realizes someone must act quickly and decisively, and once again, that someone is her.
Dazzler instructs her band to play even louder. They comply, but ask if all the extra light she creates might harm the audience. She ignores their misgivings; she needs all the sound energy she can get in order to create an effective arsenal of light. Dazzler suddenly charges backstage on her roller-skates. While her confused band watches, she skates into the cluster of armed robbers and shouts for everyone to freeze. The crooks don’t even see it coming. Dazzler incapacitates all of them—including the innocent Mr. Leland—and skates back to the stage, admittedly proud of her good deed. She tells the audience there was a slight technical difficulty, but the band will return after a brief intermission and give the audience the best show of their lives.
Later, as the police escort the foiled criminals away, Alison takes the opportunity to apologize to the dazzled theater owner, Mr. Leland. She hopes he understands she couldn’t risk taking any chances. While Mr. Leland certainly understands why she acted that way, he doesn’t understand exactly how she did it. Nervously, Alison claims she simply turned up the light-emitting equipment she uses in her act and skated as hard as she could. She hesitates to tell Mr. Leland the truth: that the light is a product of her mutant abilities. Amidst the current anti-mutant hysteria, she prefers as few people as possible know she is, in fact, a mutant. Fortunately, Mr. Leland believes her explanation, and admits the feat was most impressive. Dazzler is quite a woman, he says.
“She is, Mr. Leland—she most assuredly is!” Dazzler turns around and sees the beaming face of her cigar-chomping manager, Harry S. Osgood, as well as her field manager, Lance Steele. Alison’s band members Hunch and Marx join in the round of congratulations. After all, Alison not only saved Mr. Leland’s life, but the evening’s take, from which they get paid! Her singing friend Vanessa Tooks even appears and gives Alison a congratulatory rub on the shoulders. Alison is surprised to see her, but Vanessa reminds her she can be both a friend and a fan. Most surprising of all, however, is the compliment Alison receives from Osgood’s secretary—and her personal nemesis—Cassandra. She tells Alison that in addition to putting on a passable show, the stunt she pulled might even land her a decent write-up in a paper like the National Star. Dazzler smiles and thanks her. Coming from Cassandra, a comment like that qualifies as an unbridled compliment.
Regrettably, one member of Dazzler’s close circle of friends and loved ones cannot share in the excitement. Lois London, Alison’s sister, approaches and informs Alison she needs to get home; she fears the onset of another fainting spell. Taking her ill sister by the hands, Alison tells her she needs someone to take over her while she recovers, and although she wishes she could do it, she must return to the stage in a moment and finish her show. For now, she affectionately kisses Lois on the forehead and suggests she get some fresh air. Unfortunately, her sister’s sympathy does nothing to settle Lois’s anxiety.
Shortly thereafter, Mr. Leland goes onstage, thanks the audience for its patience, and introduces the woman who singlehandedly saved his life earlier that night. Offstage, Dazzler blushes—she wishes Leland had not laid it on so thick. Not only does she find it slightly embarrassing, but it could possibly lead some mutant-haters to discover her secret! That’s not important at the moment, though. Alison Blaire only cares about entertaining the audience and enhancing their rapport for the next few hours. She intends to give them the best show she can muster. The Dazzler is true to her vow. Her sparkling light display runs the visible spectrum from end to end and back again, varying in brightness and hue to best highlight the music she and her band produce. Tonight, Dazzler is positively on fire.
Meanwhile, Lois London walks solemnly through New York’s theater district, pondering the troubles in her otherwise insulated life. Just recently, she learned she had a half-sister in the celebrity Dazzler. More unsettling, however, is the sudden onset of a mysterious malady that occasionally gives her headaches and makes her faint. Lois fears she might have the same genetic trait that makes her sister Alison so different. On the other hand, maybe she simply has a case of mononucleosis—but that possibility does little to reassure her.
Lost in thought, Lois London carelessly wanders into an extremely unsavory neighborhood. As she passes by an alleyway, a grubby vagrant reaches out and asks for a minute of her town. Lois gasps. The homeless man, Ol’ Slimey, asks her to calm down; he insists he won’t hurt her unless he has to. Backing away, Lois pleads with him to leave her alone. If he just wants money, he can have it! “Ol’ Slimey doesn’t want money, gorgeous,” the dirty derelict says. “All he wants is a little kiss!” He grabs Lois by the wrist and pulls her toward his puckered, slobbery lips. Lois recoils in horror. The man stinks like a sewer, and she finds his touch nauseating. She begs him to let her go, but Ol’ Slimey refuses. “You gonna give me a kiss, or do I have to take it?” he asks.
As she begins to scream, Lois notices something unusual happening to her hand. It throbs, the air around it turns black, and it crackles. Before she can consciously stop herself, Lois reaches out and touches her radiant hand to the homeless man’s face. He screams in agony. As he staggers around breathlessly, he clutches his head and calls Lois a witch. Finally, his heart ceases to function. Lois watches in horror as the homeless man collapses in the trash-strewn alleyway and dies. Dead! And somehow I—I did it Lois thinks. She notices her hand returning to normal, but it doesn’t undo her deed. After realizing she is now a murderer, Lois flees to find safety, only she has no idea where she can go.
Hours later, at her apartment, Dazzler wraps up a phone call with the police department. She begs the police to keep searching for her missing sister. Lois never returned to the concert hall, and she clearly never returned to Dazzler’s apartment either. Alison wouldn’t worry so much if the police had not discovered a horribly murdered derelict near the theater. What if the same tragedy befell Lois? Alison casts this horrible thought aside and calls Lois’s dormitory. While talking to one of Lois’s worried neighbors, however, Alison’s door unlocks and swings open. To her surprise, Lois, tear-streaked and clearly upset, enters and closes the door behind her.
Alison asks Lois if she is all right. “No, Ali,” Lois says. “I’m not all right…I’ll never be all right!” Alison takes her troubled sister in her arms and gives her a reassuring hug. Things can’t be that bad, she says. Lois informs her otherwise. After Alison hangs up the phone—and Lois makes sure she hangs it up completely—Lois tearfully admits what happened after she left the concert. Tonight, she killed a man! Alison doesn’t believe it at first, but Lois elaborates. She explains how a derelict pounced on her from the alley, and when she tried to fight him off, her hand began to act strangely, as if it possessed some dark energy. Her hand then somehow killed the man. Lois ran away as fast as she could, and after finally getting ahold of herself, decided to come to Alison’s place.
Trying her best to assuage her sister’s fears, Alison asks Lois if she might not be exaggerating a bit. Maybe she didn’t actually kill the man! Furious, Lois leaps out of her chair, insists she is not exaggerating, and tells Alison to spare her the platitudes. “Don’t you realize what this means, Alison?” she asks through clenched teeth. “I’m not normal anymore…I’m special…different…like you—a mutant!”
After the distraught Lois regains her composure, she asks Alison if she intends to turn her in for murder. If she were like anyone else, she might have an easy time in court. Self-defense against an assault. But she’s a mutant—or something like it, Alison thinks. She recalls the time she used her own mutant powers to thwart a mugging in a subway station. The unappreciative crowd chased after her and hurled anti-mutant slurs her way. Alison also recalls the time she had to go on trial for the murder of the supervillain Klaw. The prosecutors made her feel as if being a mutant was a crime in of itself! Although the judge acquitted her, she just as easily could have received a conviction, simply because of her status as a mutant. With these experiences, Alison could never in good conscience turn her sister over to the authorities. However, she decides to phone a trustworthy friend for advice—the same man who defended her when she went on trial for murder.
Ken Barnett, Alison’s current boyfriend, gets out of bed and answers her four a.m. phone call. After he asks what is wrong, Alison explains that a mutant friend of hers killed someone in self-defense and wants to know if she should hide, or turn herself over to the authorities. The best advice Ken can give is telling Ali that, with current anti-mutant hysteria, he doubts he could convince a jury of any mutant’s innocence. As an agent of the court, he has to legally advise Alison to turn in her friend. As a friend, however, he tells Alison she and her friend must decide for themselves. “Whatever you do, don’t hesitate to come to me for help,” Ken says in conclusion. “And Ali…I love you.”
“I love you, Ken,” Dazzler replies. “Talk to you…soon.” She hangs up the phone and turns to Lois, who currently indulges in a peanut-butter and jelly sandwich. Lois looks so young and innocent, with a promising life ahead of her. As much as Alison would love to take time in deciding what Lois should do, time is the one thing they don’t currently have, especially if the cops come knocking at her door. She decides to take action. “Hurry up and finish your meal, kid,” Alison says as she pulls a red briefcase down from the shelf. “We’re going on a trip!”
Washington D.C., 8 A.M.…
“Mutants! That bum’s murder has all the earmarks of mutant work,” a red-haired government agent shouts out his office window, “—and Peter Gyrich will not let them get away with it!” As the head of Project Wideawake, it is Henry Peter Gyrich’s duty to protect the nation from the so-called mutant menace. Today, he intends to begin that campaign by unleashing their government-sanctioned mutant-hunters. Gyrich’s assistant, eyeing the newspaper article about the mysterious derelict death in New York City, asks if they shouldn’t first consult with Senator Kelly’s committee on mutant affairs. They don’t have time for such diplomatic niceties, Gyrich insists. He orders his aide to draft a carefully worded memo outlining their actions. “I will do what must be done,” Gyrich says.
A Greyhound Bus roars through the rain, carrying as its passengers Alison Blaire and Lois London, among others. Alison asks her otherwise-silent sister if she wants to talk about her situation. After thanking Alison for funding her getaway trip, Lois says she is not yet ready to talk about her problem. She may never be ready. Alison implores her to think realistically about it, but Lois scoffs at the idea. How can she think realistically when her current situation feels like something out of a bad science-fiction nightmare?
Alison snaps. “You’re in no position to start feeling sorry for yourself!” she says. Lois may not actually be a mutant, but if she is, she will have a lot of problems and responsibilities to face. In the meantime, they need to confirm this supposed power of hers actually exists—and if she can control it. After that, they can formulate the best way to approach the authorities. Lois hesitates about doing that; she would rather stay in hiding forever. “I don’t think your conscience would let you do that,” Alison says.
“Oh Ali, you’ve been hanging around with those superheroes too much,” Lois replies. “You’re too idealistic.” Alison begins taking issue with this absurd comment, but decides to drop it. She folds her arms and stares straight ahead. Clearly, Lois is too upset to discuss things rationally, and admittedly, Alison is too. The discussion will have to wait.
After an extended, silent journey to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the sisters disembark from the Greyhound Bus and walk to a hotel so seedy Lois conjectures not even cockroaches would stay there. It’s not that bad, Alison assures her as they walk to the front desk. She asks for a room for two. When the clerk asks her name, Alison cautiously introduces herself as Sandy Blossom, and Lois as her sister Rose. “Whatever you say, lady,” the clerk says. He takes them to a dingy room and charges them in advance for the night’s stay.
A short while later, Alison grows annoyed at their mutual moping and insists they need to get out and do something. She suggests catching a movie. Lois reluctantly accepts. They head to a movie theater downtown showing two topical films by Nicholas Ray— On Dangerous Ground and In a Lonely Place. While standing in line, Alison enthusiastically fills in her sister on the merits of director Nicholas Ray, but a group of rude fans who identify her as the Dazzler interrupt her mid-sentence. The word quickly spreads that Dazzler is in line, and a crowd of fans forms, all seeking autographs. Before long, Dazzler grows paranoid, grabs Lois by the hand, and runs away from the mob. They need to remain incognito as much as possible. Fortunately, Alison manages to hail a cab, and the two women head back to their hotel right away.
After they settle down, Alison tells Lois to sit tight in the room while she goes out for a bit. She heads to a nearby department store to find a suitable disguise. Some new make-up, a wig, and a refreshed wardrobe do the job nicely, and she heads to the bathroom in a coffee shop to complete her transformation.
Meanwhile, just a few blocks away, Lois London continues stewing in her grimy hotel room. She gazes out the window at the night sky and wonders why she didn’t simply turn herself in when she had the chance. However, she remembers what Alison said about the anti-mutant hysteria, and can’t help but wonder if the court would go harder on her than normal. She tries to convince herself the incident with the homeless man never happened—that it was all a dream—but accepts her fate. This is her life, and it will never be the same again. How can does one live with this kind of burden?
Lois suddenly hears a scratching noise at the door. After donning her bathrobe, she proceeds to the door and opens it a crack, revealing a friendly cat in the hallway. “Hello, little pussycat,” Lois says. She bends down and rubs the affectionate critter on its back. “You’re the manager’s cat, aren’t you? Well, come on in. I could use some company. And I’m sure Mr. Kroehling wouldn’t mind.” After plopping herself down on the floor, Lois plays with the adorable kitty, taking comfort in its carefree attitude. It has no worries in the world. All it has to do is sit and eat and lick its fur, or find someone with whom to play if it’s bored. Lois’s life used to be much like that. Only recently, she was a wide-eyed college freshman who only recently discovered she had a celebrity as a sister in Alison Blaire. That idyllic world of studies, boys, music and cloths collapsed like a proverbial house of cards the moment she encountered that homeless man in New York.
Lois sits upright and lifts her right hand high over the cat’s head. “Up, kitty, up!” she says while twiddling her fingers. The cat playfully leaps at her fingers—but accidentally scratches her hand. “Owww!” Lois cries, eyeing her bleeding hand. “You drew blood! You hurt me!” Her hand suddenly begins to glow, but Lois, caught up in her anger, doesn’t think about what this entails. Instead, she grabs onto the cat’s neck. “You hurt me!” she shouts. Somehow, she unleashes a surge of energy into the howling cat, illuminating the room for a moment. The terrified feline stiffens in Lois’s shimmering hand, and with a last convulsive shriek, ceases to breathe. The horrified Lois stares at the dead creature in fright. She has killed again.
Downstairs, Alison walks into the hotel lobby dressed in her new disguise. She asks the clerk for directions to Ms. Blossom’s hotel room. The drowsy Mr. Kroehling looks at the woman with the curly black hair and directs her to room 917. As she heads to the elevator, Mr. Kroehling makes a point of mentioning that Ms. Blossom’s friends are every bit as pretty as she is! Alison thanks him for the compliment, but takes more joy in the fact that her disguise worked on a veteran girl-watcher like Mr. Kroehling.
She arrives back in her hotel room only to find Lois completely distraught. Lois, teary-eyed and emotional, directs Alison’s attention to the deceased, horribly contorted kitty cat lying on the floor. Alison begins asking who did it, but Lois cuts her off mid-sentence. “You know I did it! My hand was glowing! I’m a killer! A murderer!” Lois shouts. Alison grabs her sister by the collar and orders her to get ahold of herself!
After Lois calms down, Dazzler begins packing their things. They need to move to another town; Pittsburgh just got a whole lot less comfortable. As she packs her bag, Alison decides to keep her pocket radio near the top of her things. She has a feeling she might require its use quite soon. However, it scares her to consider against whom she might need to use it.
With their bags packed, Alison Blaire and Lois London sneak out the hotel’s back door, fully intending to mail Mr. Kroehling a teller’s check once they get on the road. Lois London’s only response is silence. She wishes she were somewhere else. She wishes she were dead. If possible, Alison feels even more terrified. I’m traveling with a time-bomb—who also happens to be my sister, she thinks. They need to figure out a definitive plan, but every choice Alison makes seems to be the wrong one. She has no idea where to turn.
The next morning, two armed men in uniforms break into room 917 at the Antlers Hotel in Pittsburgh. The find it empty. However, Marc spots what he considers a mutant calling card resting in the corner—the dead cat. They investigate its lifeless body, and notice that it is frozen stiff, but not cold. It must have undergone some kind of molecular transformation, they deduce. Marc and Richard decide to move quickly, while the trail is still fresh. They begin to set up their residual metabolic pattern scanners around the room and on the cat’s body. Their targets are truly fools if they think they can outrun the Mutant Hunters!
Interstate 80, westbound. An hour later…
Gazing out the window at the beautiful countryside, Alison tells her sister she might as well make the best of things and enjoy the scenery. When Lois doesn’t respond, Alison turns to her and sees she has fallen asleep on her shoulder. Alison lets her sleep. She has a feeling things will not remain this calm for very long.