On a luxury Learjet, high above the California desert, Alison Blaire desperately tries to wake up Harvey “Hack” Hathaway. The injured pilot doesn’t respond. Because she cannot fly a plane, Alison Blaire is suddenly quite scared. She feels empty, queasy, and weak—all the cliché symptoms of fear. Cold sweat dots her brow, her breath comes in shuddering gasps, and tears well up in her eyes. Alison, however, refuses to panic. While repeating a calming mantra to herself, she moves to the cabin of the plane to elicit help from the unconscious Roman Nekoboh.
Dazzler kneels behind Roman’s shoulders and rests his head in her lap. “Where are we? What happened? Fix me a drink,” Roman says as he regains consciousness. Alison informs him they are in their plane, and Roman hit his head and passed out after an enemy plane attacked them. “Oh,” Roman says, “…in that case, make my drink a double!” With sweat dripping down her forehead, the straight-faced Alison asks Roman if he can pilot the airplane. Regrettably, he informs her he cannot. “And now, my succulent beauty,” he says to her, “uh… which one are you?” Dazzler is beyond insult at this point. She tells him her name: Alison Blaire. Roman pretends to remember. He asks Alison to give in to her passion and melt into his powerful arms. She begs him to not start that again—not now, at least. “Okay, later. Then it’s a date!” he says. Astoundingly, Alison has to inform him there might not be any later, as they are about to crash.
At this point, the barely comprehensible Roman Nekoboh informs Alison they can use some of the parachutes on board. She gasps; there are parachutes on board?!? “Two of them!” Roman answers. “Used to be six, but I wanted to expand the liquor cabinet!” Alison sighs as she unpacks the doomed airplane’s only two parachutes. Sometimes, she just doesn’t know about Roman Nekoboh. Moving on, she straps one of the parachutes to the drunken Nekoboh’s back, opens the airplane’s door, and stands Roman up at the exit. As she nudges him toward the drop, she asks him to promise to please pull the ripcord as he falls. He tells her not to worry; he has done this type of thing before; didn’t Alison every see his movie Blazing Skies? Even so, he hesitates before jumping, wishing he had a stand-in. Alison pushes him out the door and into the night sky.
With just one parachute left, she heads to the cockpit, grabs the unconscious Hack by the shoulders, and drags him back to the exit. She straps the parachute onto his back and hopes she can hold on to him as they fall. Although he’s unconscious, she asks him a question: has he ever been beyond fear? Has he ever been so scared that he somehow came back around to calm? That’s how Alison feels right now, she says. More than anything, though, she just feels tired. She wants nothing more than for this ordeal to be over soon, no matter how. With her arms wrapped around Hack, she throws their bodies out the door into the rushing air and hangs on for dear life as they plummet toward the ground. Alison pulls the chute.
Miraculously, she maintains her grip. They slowly drift toward the desert floor. Alison now notes that Hack lost a lot of blood; perhaps he’s in shock, or even dying. If they land safely, a doctor will need to treat Hack immediately. To attract attention, Dazzler unleashes a bright burst of sustained light, essentially acting as a human flare as she floats to the ground. Thankfully, a pair of highway patrolmen spots the bright light. Even though they assume it’s a flying saucer, they decide to investigate anyway.
Soon, Alison and the two police officers arrive at Admiral Hospital, just minutes behind the ambulance that carried Hack. One of the officers tells her Hack might already be in surgery. Additionally, if anyone happened to find Mr. Nekoboh, he would be here too. Sure enough, when Alison enters the hospital’s double doors, the first thing she sees is Roman Nekoboh sitting in a recliner with his shoes off and an iced tea in his hand. The adoring hospital staff surrounds him and tends to his every whim. “Wow! A real superstar right here—and he’s so sexy!” one of the nurses says. Another nurse holds a phone to Roman’s ear while he speaks with his royalty friends in London. He tells his friend Bianca that he practically landed on top of a hospital, that he’s perfectly fine, and that she should tell Princess Di and Prince Charles not to worry. Once he sees Dazzler walk in the door, he asks Bianca to hold on for a moment. He tells her the doctors said Hack should survive, and that although he will be tied up at the hospital for a while signing autographs and talking to the media, Alison is free to go home if she wants. Perhaps the police officers can take her home! The officers agree—but first, they want Mr. Nekoboh’s autograph.
Later, as the highway troopers arrive with Alison at Nick Brown’s mansion, they ask if it is her home. She explains the home belongs to her stepsister’s father, Nick Brown—a big Hollywood agent who manages stars such as Roman Nekoboh. She is only staying with him for a while. The officers can’t blame her!
As soon as Alison walks in the door, Nick not only tells her he heard what happened, but berates her for not sticking around at the hospital longer to talk with reporters! If she had used her head and played her cards right, she could have milked a ton of publicity out if it. As it stands, she has probably blown the opportunity. Alison hangs her head. “I—I have?” she asks.
Pouring himself a drink, Nick suggests she think about the possible headline: “Heroic Singer Clings to Life!” Alison reminds him that she is perfectly fine. Nick scowls at her. She is not fine, he says; she’s a nobody. For a performer, that’s anything but fine! Besides, it is not every day that someone shoots at her; she cannot let these opportunities slip away. “No doubt they were gunning for Roman—they probably hated his last album—but you should have hinted that you’ve got secret enemies, too!” Nick says. “That’s a real hot publicity angle ever since Lennon was killed!” Alison gasps; she cannot believe what she’s hearing. Nick seems to think it’s wonderful that someone tried to kill her! To further her horror, Nick adds that he would have even paid someone to perform this stunt—had he thought of it first!
Dazzler jerks at him with her thumb outstretched. “I don’t think like you, Nick!” she shouts. Of course not, Nick responds; that’s why she needs him to do the thinking for her. Alison reminds him she has an agent already: Harry S. Osgood! Nick laughs, calls Osgood a fat buffoon, and informs Alison that Osgood is a joke in this business. Alison doesn’t care; Osgood is both her agent and her friend!
After taking a deep breath, Nick asks Alison to face the facts. She has the looks and the talent, but she needs a good manager. His current star, Roman, is getting old. Nick wants to make Dazzler his next big winner, bigger than Roman Nekoboh ever was—for his usual percentage, of course. Alison, with her hands on her hips in a gesture of defiance, tells Nick Brown he can get another meal-ticket. Nick asks what it will take to win her over: a big car? Drugs? A good-looking stud-muffin? Whatever she wants, he can provide! “Just like you ‘provided’ me for Roman?” Alison asks. Mr. Brown doesn’t deny it.
Just then, Lois London enters the room, having heard Alison and Nick arguing. She really hoped they would get along! Alison tells her that could never happen after what Nick just said to her. If only Lois had heard, she adds. Surprisingly, Lois admits she did hear the argument. She has had a few talks with her father since arriving at his place, and although he’s no saint… she pauses to laugh at that pairing of words: “Saint Nick”.
Annoyed, Alison asks how she can even defend her father if she heard the horrible things he said. Didn’t his words bother her? Although Lois admits they do, she reminds Alison that both she and Nick are in a rough business. Sometimes show business requires people to do dirty, nasty, sleazy things. Nick only does what he has to do. Lois begs Alison to let her father help her, but Ali cannot believe what she is hearing. After all she and Lois have experienced together, she thought her sister would defend her. Lois, giving her father a teary-eyed hug, admits she is not as strong as Alison. She clung to Alison for protection all along, and now, she can get that same assurance from her father. “Oh! I see!” Alison sneers. “Rich-and-powerful Nick is better ‘protection’ for little Lois, who’s afraid of everything including herself! So I’m not needed anymore! Is that it?” Lois claims that isn’t the case—she does not want to lose Alison—but her emotions betray her. Alison gives her sister a hug and tells her not to worry; she will never lose Alison completely. However, Ali now knows she cannot stay at Nick’s place any longer. As she turns to walk out the door, she ignores both Lois’s pleas for her to stay, and Nick’s smug insistence that she’ll eventually return.
Dazzler steps out into the night air with her small bag of possessions, walks off Nick’s estate, and continues walking toward the city. It begins to rain as she marches along the highway. After a while, a man in a green car pulls over and asks if she wants a ride. Although he looks innocent enough, Alison turns him down. He assures her it would be no trouble, and that while he knows everyone insists accepting rides from strangers is a bad idea—as bad an idea as offering rides to strangers—he refuses to let her walk in the rain. Besides, she doesn’t look like a mugger, the man says. Since he doesn’t look like one either, Alison accepts and hops into the passenger seat.
He asks where she wants to go. She tells him any place far away from Los Angeles will suffice. The man smiles; it sounds like she had a rough time in L.A. Fortunately for her, he is heading to San Diego for a comic convention. Alison breathes a sigh of relief. As they depart, the man introduces himself as Ralph and says he edits comic books. In turn, Ali tells him her name and that she sings for a living.
Two and a half hours later, they arrive at the city limits of San Diego, California. Ralph asks where Alison would like to part ways. Anywhere is fine, she says. As she prepares to step out of the car, Ralph, knowing she left Los Angeles in a hurry, asks if she needs any money. He even offers her a twenty dollar bill. Although Alison tries to refuse his gift, Ralph insists, practically stuffing it into her hand. If she wants, she can repay it later, he says.
Meanwhile, in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, a rescue team returns with the pilot of a certain unmarked fighter plane to a hidden, underground base. It was weird, the pilot says as they walk him to the meeting room. He explains how one minute, he was closing in for the kill, and the next, there was a flash of bright light and his plane was suddenly shredded metal! One of the rescue workers supposes that means Alison Blaire is definitely a mutant. The downed pilot supposes—but wonders how one person could emit so much power.
They enter a meeting room filled with high-ranking military officials. Captain Smith, the downed pilot, salutes and addresses his superiors, who then scorn him for failing his top-secret mission. He had the Blaire girl, potentially the most dangerous mutant in existence, in his sights, yet he squandered it—and lost an aircraft! They remind him their high-ranking government friends went out of their way to provide them a base for their covert anti-mutant operations, but they hate when they lose aircrafts. Excusing himself, the commander says he wants a full report of the incident when he gets back from his week of meetings at the Pentagon. He puts his subordinate Crespi in charge while he’s gone, and asks him not to do anything stupid.
As soon as the commander leaves, however, Crespi unveils his secret, experimental plan to his men. They initially object; the commander did specifically state not to do anything stupid! Besides, they want to go into town to pick up girls. Crespi insists he has a plan that involves a new experimental gadget. His plan will not only get Captain Smith off the hook, but will end the mutant menace forever—starting with Alison Blaire!
Meanwhile, in New York City, at the Park Avenue offices of a major publishing house, a young man stares at his silent phone. He keeps muttering to himself that he can’t believe it. His coworkers look at him with worry. “Hey, what’s with Bob?” asks a tall, bald man named Eliot. His dark-haired female coworker informs him that it’s 9:30 AM and Ralph has yet to call. This is highly unusual, since Ralph has called at 9:30 every morning since he left for his trip to the comic convention in San Diego—and every five minutes thereafter. Ann, the dark-haired woman, walks over to Bob and tells him he looks worried. Bob admits he is worried; Ralph has not called in yet! “Relax, Bob!” Eliot says. “It probably just means that ol’ Ralphie got run over by a truck!” A short-haired man in glasses laughs and supposes it could also mean all the editors were swallowed by an earthquake. Why, if that were to happen, the assistant editors would take over for good; they might even inherit the universe! Ann and Louise tell Bob not to worry; they are certain Ralph and the other editors are just fine. Bob hopes so.
Another artist pokes his head out of his office and asks why Bob is so worried. Having the editors away en masse is a lot of fun, he says! As Louise walks away, she smiles and calls Bob a wimp. Another coworker with wild hair peeks in Bob’s door and asks Bob about a rumor he heard; is it true he won’t make a move until Ralph gives him the okay? “Ralph always tells me exactly what he wants done! He’s so worried that something will go wrong with one of his titles while he’s away,” Bob says. The wild-haired man laughs. It is true after all! This gang of laughing guys then walks away and heads out to lunch, even though they have already been once today. Ann, meanwhile, stays behind and gives Bob a tongue-lashing. Since Ralph is gone, Bob needs to get it together, as he is in charge. She reminds him that he needs to do what he wants. Smiling, Bob tells Ann she is right, and thanks her for her words. Of course she is right, Ann says. She excuses herself so she can go to lunch—again. As she leaves, a maniacal look overtakes Bob’s face and he begins rubbing his hands together deviously. With Ralph gone, he can finally do what he wants…
At that moment, in the San Diego YWCA, Alison Blaire awakens to her small, cramped, dingy rented room. She complains that even the mice must feel hunched, but it’s safe and warm, and at only fifteen dollars a night, well worth it. She heads to the cafeteria for breakfast, where she endures the cook’s inane conversation while she eats. She worries she might not have enough money left for a long-distance phone call. Fortunately she does, and uses it to call her manager in New York, Harry S. Osgood. Harry is delighted to hear from her; he had heard rumors she was abandoning his agency! He agrees to wire her a cash advance; after all, she has a hit record on the charts. Overhearing this conversation, Lance Steele smiles at Cassie and says that once Harry Osgood signs an act, they stay signed! “Yes,” Cassie says while nonchalantly applying her lipstick. “Too bad!” Lance asks what she means; Cassie loves Alison! Cassandra tells Lance to be a dear and go soak his head.
Meanwhile, in San Diego, Ralph, having overslept, frantically hails a taxi outside his hotel. He arrives at the San Diego Convention Center a few moments later and is immediately greeted by a crowd of fans. “Hey! It’s one of the Marvel Comics editors!” they shout. “It’s Ralph Macchio! I want his autograph on my copy of US 1!” As Ralph worms his way inside, various fans approach him with requests for autographs and portfolio reviews. Although he complies, Ralph suddenly grows worried as he remembers he has not yet phoned Bob at the office in New York. He just hopes nothing goes wrong with any of the titles!
At that very moment, however, Bob Harras marches around the office in a craze. With Ralph gone, he is now in charge, and his first order of business is to make the upcoming changes clear to his freelance artists and writers! Frank Springer speaks up and says they all like things the way they are. “Too bad, Frank! Incidentally, those pin-up girl shots you like drawing?” Bob says. “Forget ‘em! There’ll be no more of that!”
Back in San Diego, a car full of military officers spies on Alison Blaire as she exits the Western Union office. They continue to follow her. Luckily for them, she walks into the crowded San Diego Comic-Con.
As Alison enters the convention center, she finds herself overwhelmed by the packed crowd. You’d think Paul McCartney was playing here today or something, she thinks.
Just outside the door, Crespi ferociously orders his men to hurry and unpack their vehicle. They comply, but secretly wish their actual commander had never left them.
Inside, Alison searches for Ralph, but has no luck finding him. She supposes he might be in the middle of a nearby mob.
The military guys begin assembling their strange machine. Because of all the people dressed up in science-fiction costumes, no one pays their operation any attention at all. While they discuss the various costumes they have seen, such as Spider-Man and Darth Vader, Crespi barks at them to hurry.
Ralph, meanwhile, finds himself overwhelmed by fans. They berate him questions: is Jim Starlin still drawing Dreadstar? Are they planning more painted covers? Is the editor-in-chief really a monster? Louise Jones isn’t really called ‘Weezie’, is she? Ralph does his best to provide responses—answering yes, yes, no and yes, respectively—but wishes he could get to a phone.
Nearby, the military guys finally finish assembling their secret weapon. Crespi hits the activation switch. Instantly, Dazzler feels something strange happening. Although Crespi cannot see her directly, he smiles at the knowledge that his machine is surely causing her serious problems. The best part, he says, is that the device only effects mutant; humans feel nothing! Sure enough, Dazzler’s forehead begins dripping sweat. She feels as if every cell in her body is overflowing with power. She tries her hardest to keep it from spilling out in the form of uncontrollable laser blasts—which would surely injure the innocent people nearby—but fears she can’t hold it in!
Crespi, grinning while he amps up the weapon, informs his men that although Alison Blaire is likely the only mutant in the crowd, if there are others, this machine will find them and intensify their powers until they spin out of control! His soldier Zalme begins feeling funny, but Crespi and the other men do not notice. Instead, Crespi continues ranting about his master plan to drive mutants to the point where they cause senseless destruction. They won’t have to worry about sanctioning mutants at that point because regular citizens will form their own lynch mobs!
Meanwhile, Dazzler struggles to contain her power long enough to get outside. The impenetrable crowd makes it difficult for her to reach the exit.
Finally, Zalme’s peers notice him acting strange, but by then it is too late. Zalme falls to his knees, clutches his head, and begins to scream. His flesh turns a scaly purple and his body expands, ripping out of his fatigues. Suddenly, Zalme transforms into a giant, roaring, purple dinosaur. His friends cannot believe their eyes: Zalme is a mutant!
Dino-Zalme begins thrashing around, sending his fellow officers flying around the convention. The terrified civilians run for their lives. In the mad panic to escape, Ralph Macchio falls to the ground and becomes the victim of the stampede. The military officers, meanwhile, fight to neutralize Zalme before anyone gets hurt. They hope turning off the machine will calm his uncontrollable rage. Crespi commands his men to shoot the monster and kill it, even though it’s their former friend. Suddenly, Zalme whips around and pulverizes the men with his brawny tail.
The crowd disperses, leaving only Dazzler and the mutated Zalme. Looking at the monster before her, Alison realizes he may have killed those men—and may kill more in his raging fury. She also realizes he, too, must be a mutant. Thankfully, since Zalme scared everyone else away, Dazzler can now unleash the pent-up power within her. She fires a high-intensity laser at the machine, which she deduces to be the cause of her current troubles. The machine disintegrates. Accordingly, the throbbing pain in Alison’s body disappears as well. The purple dinosaur, however, does not calm down. It turns to Alison and roars in her face. She backs away, asking him to leave her alone, but he doesn’t comply. Strangely, Dazzler does not feel as scared as she thinks she should be. She supposes she feels a certain kinship with the monster because just like her, he is a mutant.
Zalme lunges at her. Dazzler fires back with a flash-burst. Her attack abates Zalme momentarily, but Dazzler winces at the thought of causing the poor man such pain. He strikes at her again, and while dodging his attack, she begs him to leave her alone. She means him no harm! Zalme claws at her once again, forcing Dazzler to dive out of the way. She realizes her words have no effect; if Zalme has any humanity left within him, it’s surely submerged. Fortunately for her, all the crashing around provides her with the sound energy she needs to fight back.
“Please try to understand,” Dazzler tells the dinosaur, “—if I don’t stop you here, now—you’ll be hunted down and killed!” Her eyes glow with menacing energy, and she unleashes a multi-faceted attack on Zalme, knocking him backward. She follows this up with another burst of light focused on the monster’s face, accompanied by another apology. Not too sorry, though, she thinks. His hide’s so tough, my mild laser-blasts don’t seem to hurt him much! There’s more than one way to pin a Saurian, though! Dazzler fires a pair of lasers at two nearby support-pillars. With their connection to the ground severed, they collapse on top of Zalme, bringing much of the ceiling down with them. Zalme finally rests, buried under piles of rubble he helped bring down himself.
With the threat defeated, Dazzler finally spots Ralph Macchio, the man whom she came to find. However, she notices that he’s resting directly beneath a perilously swaying pillar—one that begins to fall! Dazzler shouts for him to watch out, but in his groggy state, he fails to respond. Without any further hesitation, she darts toward Ralph, dives at him, and knocks him out of the way just as the thick column crashes down on his former resting place. She asks if he feels okay. Ralph thanks her for saving his life in response. Brushing this off, Alison supposes he probably would have gotten out of the way on his own anyway. She gives him back the twenty dollars he loaned her.
After Ralph thanks her for the repayment, Alison tells him she has to run and check on the dinosaur man. However, she finds no sign of him at all. She supposes he reverted back to his human form and crawled away. She can’t blame him; he must be the most frightened human on the planet right now. Alison considers herself a close second, however.
Ralph, meanwhile, picks himself up, dusts off his clothing, and walks to a payphone attached to a solitary piece of the remaining wall. “Now’s my chance to call Bob!” he says. He dials his office and asks the switchboard operator Darlene to put him through to Bob Harras.
At that very moment, back in New York, Bob Harras is standing on his desk, spelling out his bold new editorial changes. From now on, all dialogue boxes will be colored red, he says! He also demands a photo of himself in the trademark box on the cover of every comic! Suddenly, the phone rings, which Bob gleefully answers. His disposition slowly shifts from maniacal tyranny to solemn subservience as he speaks with his boss, Ralph Macchio, who, as he learns, is not dead after all. Bob sits down on the edge of his desk and hangs up the phone. “Uh…guys? About what I was saying,” he says to his staff, “…never mind!”
And, a little later in San Diego, Dazzler boards a bus headed for Los Angeles. She vows to stop running away from her problems. This time, when she returns to L.A., she intends to make it!