Dazzler #35

Issue Date: 
January 1985
Story Title: 

Jim Shooter (writer), Frank Springer (penciler), Vince Colletta (inker), Janice Chiang (letterer), Petra Scotese (colorist), Mike Carlin (editor), Jim Shooter (editor-in-chief)

Brief Description: 

Dazzler nearly gets kicked out of her apartment for being a mutant. To stay in her building, she must raise the remainder of her rent in two days. She searches for a job. After countless rejections purely for being a mutant, she lands a gig as a waitress at a women-only nightclub. She makes fast friends with a pint-sized waitress named Barb Spooner. During her first shift, a rowdy roller derby team called the Racine Ramjets comes to the club, sits in Dazzler’s section and causes a scene. Dazzler finally snaps after they relentlessly harass Barb and stands up to the Ramjets. A fight ensues that Dazzler wins without even using her powers. After collecting the tip money she needs to make rent, she advises Barb to not let the opinions of others shape how she views herself.

Full Summary: 

Alison Blaire returns to her ever-so-humble apartment one evening. It may be dark and dirty, but she still missed this place. She remembers how happy and hopeful she was when she last left her apartment—back before the movie, before Roman Nekoboh entered her life and, basically, before the entire world came crashing down around her. Now, just saying Roman’s name puts a knot in her stomach.

Hoping to call someone who might understand, Dazzler picks up the phone and dials a number few people know. It rings through to Xavier’s mansion in Westchester, New York, which serves as the headquarters of the X-Men. No one answers. Frustrated, Alison sets down the receiver. Where is Ororo when she needs her? She supposes she is out saving the world—or maybe herself—from all the trouble Alison has made for every single mutant in the world.

She decides to record a letter to Storm in order to get some things off her chest. After picking up a microphone and sitting down in her lounge chair, Dazzler begins recounting her interpretation of recent events. However, if Ororo has even seen a newspaper lately, she knows the turns Alison’s life has taken: Roman Nekoboh offered her a part in a movie, they flirted and became close, he learned that she was a mutant and then announced it to the world to generate publicity. Once he revealed the secret, Alison had no choice but to run with it. She gave a public demonstration of her light-transduction power, but instead of generating good publicity, the stunt backfired and touched off the biggest wave of anti-mutant sentiment in history. Surely Ororo noticed.

Alison admits she kept hoping the situation would work out for the best, but her love for Roman blinded her. Roman convinced her that if the movie were a blockbuster, it would reverse the anti-mutant hysteria and force society to accept mutants—and maybe even allow them to co-exist in peace with regular humans. Instead, the film’s backer pulled out just before the film’s release, refusing to distribute it. To spite him, Alison burned the last remaining print of the film. Now, she has nothing: no film, no career and no relationship with Roman—whose career is also in shambles because of his association with a mutant. She’s pretty broken up about it, Alison admits into the recording. She doesn’t know what she will do, other than keep living her life, as usual. She intends to do the best she can.

Suddenly, Alison sees a pair of legs standing in the shadows. “Hey! What’s that? Who’s there?” she asks. She releases a pulse of bright light, illuminating the dark hallway and revealing two figures—her landlords, Mr. and Mrs. McCorkle, both wielding baseball bats. Mr. McCorkle throws up his arms and begs her not to zap them. Alison, however, smiles and greets them. As she flips on the lights, she apologizes for her tardiness with her payment but assures Mr. McCorkle that the bat is not necessary; she’ll pay her rent.

Mr. McCorkle, still cowering in fear, tells Alison to disintegrate him if she must, but begs her to spare his wife’s life! Alison has no intention of disintegrating either one of them. She once again promises to pay the rent. Mr. McCorkle doesn’t want it. They didn’t come to collect her check; they just want her to go away. Alison asks if it’s because she’s a mutant. It’s because she’s dangerous, Mrs. McCorkle claims; they don’t want any trouble in their building.

Dazzler, surprisingly compliant, tells them she’ll leave. Good, Mr. McCorkle says. He immediately realizes how rude he sounds. After apologizing, he tries to justify his decision. His wife interjects; they heard Alison recording her letter to Ororo and now they feel really terrible about the decision they made. Alison tells them it is all right—no hard feelings. Again, Mr. McCorkle tries to explain himself. Alison has been a good tenant, he says. It’s not anything she’s done, just what she is. “I wonder,” Mrs. McCorkle adds, “—seems to me that what a body does decides what they are, Pa! I-I mean, what you start out as and what you amount to can be two different things! She may be one of those awful mutants, but… well, I once knew a man who was a Democrat, who later reformed!”

On account of Mrs. McCorkle’s change of heart, Mr. McCorkle decides to let Alison stay—but only if she pays her rent by Friday. It’s already two weeks overdue, after all. Alison thanks them as they leave.

The next morning—Wednesday of that week—Alison pores over the classified ads in the newspaper. She is short $67.50 on rent. How can she earn that much in just two days? After all the negative publicity she’s garnered, she doubts anyone will hire her for a singing gig. Hopefully, if she can find any kind of job, her boss might give her an advance. Better yet, she could get a job as a waitress and earn that much in tips.

After getting dressed, Alison heads for the door, intent on finding work. Right before she leaves, however, she decides to bring her clip-on roller-skates. They might save her on bus fare—and every nickel counts! “You’re going to be okay, Alison Blaire,” Dazzler says as she marches down her apartment stairs. She clips on her skates as soon as she reaches the street. They may not go fast, but they go pretty far—and plus, they’re cheap! Best of all, they fit comfortably insider he purse.

Shortly, in what passes for downtown L.A., a long, long day begins for Alison Blaire. She gets rejected from every job for which she applies, each time because she’s a mutant. After her eighth rejection in a row, Alison wanders into a bar and inquires about the advertised job. The bartender tells her to sit down and fill out an application—and then he recognizes her. While screaming that she’s a mutie, he grabs a crowbar off the wall and charges at her. Alison tells him not to get upset; she’s leaving. Darn right she is, the irate bartender says. If he had his way, all muties would be shot on sight! He heard on the television that mutants even call themselves Homo superior. They must think they’re the next step up in evolution from normal humans! Alison tries to convince him otherwise, but he continues yelling at her. He heard that mutants think humans are stupid apes and that they’ll try to overtake the world! Alison calls this ridiculous paranoia. The bartender, still brandishing his crowbar, tells Alison to start running, because in one second he intends to split open her head.

Alison finally snaps. “Now just a minute, mister! That’s enough out of you! ” she says. Amidst a burst of white light, she grabs onto his crowbar and incinerates it in her hand. The man cowers in fear. Alison calls him a miserable, rotten worm. Since he insists on treating her like a monster, she supposes she might as well be one! “So you’re afraid of me now, huh? Well, you’ve got good reason, mister! This evil, nasty Homo superior is going to fry your slimy Homo sapien hide!” She lifts her glowing hand once more and tells them man he’s about to get it. The cowering man whimpers, begging for his life. Alison turns to leave. As she exits the bar, she tells the bigoted bartender that he’s lucky; she decided he’s not worth the effort—this time.

Hours later, after night falls on Los Angeles, Alison walks by a club called “FEMMES” and spots yet another sign asking for help. She scoffs at the sign, presuming it, too, includes a “no mutants need apply” clause. Why even bother trying? She might as well just go home and cry herself to sleep. However, Alison catches herself during this bout of self-pity. Refuses to let five or six dozen rejections turn her into a pessimist, she resolves to take one last stab at the job search—and then go home and cry!

Inside, she speaks with a short-haired, red-headed woman wearing a cloak about applying for the job. Before she can finish her sentence, however, Alison notices something odd about the club: it contains only women! The woman at the door asks Alison what she expected from a place called “FEMMES”; it’s a women-only club. There are hundreds of men-only clubs, so why shouldn’t women have a least one place exclusively for them? Alison doesn’t argue with the reasoning behind the venue; she just admits she’s never seen such a place. That’s why they’re so successful, the red-headed hostess says. She escorts Alison to the manager’s office.

Alison enters the manager’s office and begins to introduce herself. The manager interrupts her and immediately tells her she is hired! The uniforms are in the dressing room closet, she tells Alison. Realizing she doesn’t even know what job she just got, Alison asks what kind of work it is. Waitress, the manager says. She encourages Ali to hurry—as she is already late!

In the hallway outside the manager’s office, Alison bumps into a woman of diminutive stature who senses she’s searching for the dressing room. The short woman leads her into darkened changing room, which is filled with women in underwear putting on their makeup. The two women begin to converse. Introducing herself as Alison “Brown”, Ali tells the girl she was just hired. The petite woman introduces herself as Barb Spooner, known affectionately as “Spoonsize”. She admits, though, that she answers to just about anything that roughly equates to “Shorty”. After their brief introductions, Barb tells Alison she looks familiar. She swears she has seen her face before! Alison, tripping over her words, tells Barb she doesn’t think they have ever met. Of course not, Barb says, adding that everyone looks the same from her height.

Soon, Alison changes into her serving outfit: cuffed boots, fishnet stockings, and a low-cut, red leather dress with a zipper running up its middle. She asks Barb what she thinks. Barb tells her she looks dynamite, but adds that everything looks better on tall girls. She guesses Ali’s height: five-eleven? Five-eight, Alison tells her, but who’s counting? “Us four-foot-thirteeners, that’s who!” Barb says. This confuses Alison, forcing Barb to clarify that she’s actually five-one. Now that they’re dressed in their serving outfits, Barb leads Alison to her station.

It doesn’t take Alison long to get into the groove of waiting tables. She serves a table of weight-conscious supermodels, a table of power-lunching businesswomen, another table of down-to-earth country girls, and finally, a table of chatty Valley girls. Shortly thereafter, the band—which is rumored to be hotter than a welding torch—takes the stage. Ali watches in envy as Jan Jackson and the Steel Tuna performs in front of the admiring crowd. They’re terrific, Alison thinks. That Janet Jackson is absolutely sensational! I’d give anything to be up there singing instead of down here! She hopes someday, again, she’ll get to sing.

Suddenly, a group of rambunctious women bursts into the nightclub, making sure everyone notices their entrance. “Y’all make way for the Racine Ramjets, ladies!” the obnoxious women say. The Ramjets order the other women to get out of their way; they defeated the L.A. Bombers earlier that night, and now, they want to party! The venue’s other patrons should consider themselves warned. Alison, meanwhile, watches the arrival of the roller derby team in disbelief.

The Ramjets saunter over to a crowded table, slam their golden-cup trophy down in the center and claim the table for themselves. The shocked women at the table claim it’s theirs. The Ramjets see it differently. They knock over the drinks and forcibly eject the frightened women from their seats. Meanwhile, one of the Ramjets approaches Dazzler—whom she calls “Sweetie”—and orders a round of beverages. The various members of the Racine Ramjets order six Lone Stars, a case of Coors, a double Kamikaze, a Dinkelacker and, most unusual of all, a large milk. The Ramjet who orders the milk tells Alison that if she as much as smiles, she’ll crack her clavicle! Beefee, the final Ramjet to order, asks for a bottle of J and B. By the way, she adds, if Alison treats them well, she promises to give her a big tip. Alison thanks her and walks away to grab their drinks. As she goes, however, she silently curses the loud, obnoxious women for interrupting the band’s performance.

“Hey, babe, I changed my mind! I want Cuervo Gold, straight up—make it a double!” one of the Ramjets says as Alison tries to watch the band. Alison asks if she wants that instead of the Lone Stars. “No, the Coors, dippo!” the woman barks. Alison apologizes. Her mind returns to the mesmerizing voice of the singer on the stage. Beefee, meanwhile, decides to change her order too. She first wants a Stoli, then changes that to a Cutty Sark served neat. Noticing Alison’s inattentiveness, she asks if she’s even listening. Although Alison claims to be, her mind clearly focuses on the band’s performance.

A minute later, Alison returns to the Ramjet table with their drinks. The situation almost overwhelms her. Not only does she ache to jump up on the stage and sign, but all the sound in the room—especially the music—is sending waves of energy surging through her body! It’s all she can do to contain it. She’s dying to cut loose, however, and illuminate the room. Of course, she realizes that would bring her newfound employment to a screeching halt.

She hands the ungrateful Racine Ramjets their drinks. Beefee takes a sip of her glass of liquor, but immediately spits it out. She’s been poisoned, she declares! Grabbing Alison by the collar, she tells her that unless she’s mistaken, she ordered Cutty Sark, not Vat 69! Alison apologizes profusely, but it does nothing to assuage Beefee’s anger. She dumps the glass of liquor on Alison’s head and laughs. Next time, maybe she will get it right!

Fortunately for Alison, Barb rushes to her aid and offers to switch tables. She will handle the Ramjets if Alison can take table twenty-six. Although Alison tries to assure her she can handle it, Barb insists; she’s used to this treatment. As Alison walks away, Barb tries her best to placate the unruly roller derby players. What is it Beefee ordered? A Cutty Sark? “Yeah, neat!” Beefee says to Barb. “And try not to fall into the glass, half-pint!” Taking the jab in stride, Barb cracks a joke about her presence in the drink turning it into a shrimp cocktail. Beefee guffaws and tells Barb she’s a riot.

As Barb leaves to grab the corrected drinks, the Ramjet named Hilda trips her. Spoonsize tumbles to the floor, spilling beverages everywhere. The Ramjets laugh heartily; at least the poor little girl didn’t have far to fall! Trying her best to play along, Barb claims it was a short trip, at least. Hilda—unsatisfied with her cruelty—picks up a napkin off the table and twists it into a whip. As she snaps it across Barb’s butt, she tells her not to lie down on the job. The mortified waitress cries out in pain. She gets up and gathers the broken glasses while another of the Ramjets, Tex, yells at her. She had better hurry with some more drinks before the Ramjets get irritable, she says! Spoonsize continues apologizing, blaming her slow speed on her short legs.

She returns a short time later with their new round of drinks. “Now this is what I call service!” says the Ramjet in the floral dress. “This cute little one is a lot better than that blonde babyface! I should take you home, dear—in my purse!” She asks Barb for her name. Spoonsize, she tells them as she struggles to hold back her tears. The Ramjets bust up laughing. Meanwhile, Alison’s heart breaks as she watches her new friend endure such inhumane treatment.

The Ramjets suddenly grow irritated with the band onstage and start heckling. Hilda tells the singer she will pay her double whatever she’s getting to shut up! Beefee angrily requests some Shondells, or maybe some Bobby Goldsboro. Gazelle, the butch Ramjet with a broken left arm, merely flashes her tongue at the performers. Tex demands the band play some country western—and asks why the Ramjets even came to this lousy watering hole. It’s a dive! Gazelle reminds her they came because they want to bust up the joint—and why bust up a good joint?

The heckling continues. The Ramjet wearing shades shouts out another order at Barb, and adds that they have a request for the band: they request the lead singer gargle with battery acid! After she asks if Barb heard her, Barb assures her she did, and adds that the band is almost done with its set. While making a broad thumbs-down gesture, Hilda informs the band they stink, and that their waitress is bringing them a request.

Hilda flicks a quarter at Barb and tells her to pull the plug on the band. Once again, Barb drops her tray of drinks, and once again the Ramjets mock her. She just can’t hold that big tray of drinks, can she? They order her to bring them another round right away.

Onstage, the lead singer of the band, Janet, grows visibly annoyed with the ruckus.

Alison clenches her teeth in frustration too. She doesn’t know how much more cruelty she can watch Barb endure. If the manager refuses to have the Ramjets thrown out of the club, then Alison intends to make Barb leave with her.

Beefee decides to use Barb to demonstrate a hold she performed on a rival skater earlier that night. She grabs the screaming waitress from behind by the arms and sets her on the table. Her victim from earlier in the night looked just as scared as Barb does now—because she knew what was coming! Terrified, Barb asks what she intends to do. It’s the lovely old ‘Ramjet Whammy’, one of the women tells Barb. It’s just for demonstration purposes, though. Barb won’t get hurt—unless Beefee slips!

As Beefee approaches to execute the move, a voice calls out from the crowd and orders her to stop. The Ramjets turn and see their former waitress, Alison Blaire, looking at them with defiance in her eyes. Alison orders them to leave Barb alone.

“Aww… is she your widdle buddy?” Beefee says. “Gee, I’m sowwy! I don’t want to get you mad at delicate me,” she says in a mocking tone, “—so here—you can have her!” She lifts Barb clean over her head and prepares to throw her at Alison. Although she begs for her to put her down, Beefee hurls her headlong at Alison. The two waitresses collide and collapse in a heap on the floor. “You asked for her! Haw, haw, haw!”

After Barb and Alison check on each other, Alison suggests they take their break. She takes Spoonsize by the shoulders and turns away from the table of Racine Ramjets. Beefee refuses to let them go so easily. Alison talked awfully tough before, Beefee says. She challenges her to come back and get her teeth knocked out. Trying her best to ignore her cruel taunts, Alison encourages Barb to just keep walking. Beefee continues to mock her. Doesn’t she want to at least take a swig at her? Through all the argument, Barb grows quite scared.

Beefee finally realizes Alison has no intention of taking the bait. Presuming she needs to be overt if she wants to get in a fight, Beefee takes the situation into her own hands and lunges at Dazzler from behind, grabbing her by the hair. Tex cheers for her teammate. She reckoned it was time the Ramjets got some action going!

Much to Beefee’s surprise, Dazzler uses her momentum against her and flips her onto her back. How does she do that? She’s bigger than Alison, Beefee shouts! Alison agrees, but adds that she’s stronger than Beefee because she works out so much. Besides, all of the Cutty Sark Beefee drank has hampered her reflexes. Any athlete would know that! After Dazzler pins Beefee to the floor, she grabs her arm and bends it past the point of mere discomfort and near the point of breaking. Beefee squeals in pain. Although Dazzler tries to make peace by encourage Beefee to call off the attack, the disgraced Ramjet summons her teammates to help. They immediately spring into action. Gazelle orders the other skaters to pile on top of Alison. No one gets in the way of the Ramjets, she says!

On stage, Janet grows tired of watching the fight unfold. She tells her band to cool it; she doubts anyone is even listening to them anymore. Deciding to take a little break, Janet leaps into the dog-pile, intent on breaking some roller derby girls’ faces!

Meanwhile, one of the club’s patrons calls the police on the payphone. On the other end of the line, two male police officers write the call off as a prank. A fight at a girl’s club? Sure, they say! They claim they will send over a hundred-man S.W.A.T. team—the minute it starts snowing in Death Valley!

Back at the fight, the combined weight of the Racine Ramjets nearly crushes Alison. She suddenly realizes if she sustains a serious injury, she will not be able to afford a doctor! Worse, she won’t be able to work. An injury could put an end to all she has left. Instinctively, she prepares to use her mutant powers to dazzle-blast her way out of the situation—but immediately decides against it. She refuses to resort to that, especially when she believes she can win this fight fair and square!

Thrusting her legs upward, Dazzler kicks loose of the dog-pile—much to the shock and awe of the Ramjets. How does she do it? She takes Tex out of the fight with a well-placed uppercut. However, Gazelle grabs her from behind and pins her arms behind her back. Knock her out, Beefee, she commands her teammate. As Beefee winds up for the punch, she tells Alison she’ll first give her two black eyes, then bust up her cute little nose, and finally knock out her teeth. “You really are horrible people,” Alison shouts. Beefee tells her to hold that thought. “No, you hold it!” Alison says. She thrusts her torso downward, flipping Gazelle over her back and headlong into Beefee’s face. The two dynamo women collide with a sickening WHAK!

The fight ends. Dazzler, the last one standing, looks around the room at the pile of unconscious women. The Ramjets may not know it, but they got off easy! After surveying the damage, Alison checks on Barb, who claims to be okay. With that out of the way, Alison approaches the barely conscious Beefee and asks if she can have the big tip she was promised. Beefee, speaking through strained breaths, tells Alison to check her back pocket and help herself; she only asks she not hit her with that Buick again. Alison only needs $67.50. She takes what she needs and thanks the roller derby girl.

Alison walks to the exit with Barb, who apologizes for starting the fight. She wonders if the fight would have occurred if she hadn’t been such a toadying little idiot when the Ramjets teased her. However, she assumed she could clown her way through it and play into the teasing like she usually does, but that just encouraged them to keep pushing it! Dazzler encourages her not to worry about it too much; they would have probably teased her anyway. She does, however, tell Barb that a lot of people will only see her for what makes her different, and not for all the good things about her or the things that make her a human being just like them. If she lets them, those people will make her into what they think she is. They’ll force her to become a toy, a clown, a monster—or worse.

She and Barb embrace. Spoonsize realizes Alison is completely right: she has been selling herself short. It’s a good lesson to learn. Alison agrees, adding that she herself just learned it that same day.

With everything settled, Barb asks Alison if she plans on returning to the club. Ali tells her she can’t; she doesn’t know if she can handle this much excitement! Maybe she’ll become a hockey player instead. Before she leaves, Barb tells her she’s glad they met, and tells Alison she is a terrific person. Alison returns the compliment. After advising Barb to take care of herself, Alison walks out of “FEMMES”, fully intent on never returning.

Characters Involved: 

Dazzler/Alison Blaire

Barb “Spoonsize” Spooner

Janet Jackson (singer)

The Steel Tuna (Jan’s band)

Beefee, Gazelle, Hilda, Tex (Racine Ramjets)

Racine Ramjet in shades

Racine Ramjet in floral dress

Mr. and Mrs. McCorkle (Dazzler’s landlords)

Various employees and patrons of FEMMES

Irate bartender

Various potential employers

In flashback only:

Roman Nekoboh

Anti-mutant protestors

Story Notes: 

The world came crashing down around Dazzler in MARVEL GRAPHIC NOVEL #12: DAZZLER THE MOVIE and BEAUTY AND THE BEAST #1-4.

Dazzler probably has trouble reaching the X-Men because, at this time, their ranks have thinned a bit. The depowered Storm is in Africa while Wolverine and Kitty are still in Japan.

Dazzler’s letter to Ororo and its accompanying images recount significant events from MARVEL GRAPHIC NOVEL #12: DAZZLER THE MOVIE.

Although Mr. McCorkle refers to Mrs. McCorkle as his wife, in this issue she refers to him as “Pa”, which is either an affectionate pet-name she gives him or a hint at an unusual relationship.

While clipping on her skates in this issue, Dazzler uses the phrase “don’t go too fast, but I go pretty far”. This lyric comes from the song “Brand New Key”, which is ostensibly about a new pair of roller-skates.

Dazzler uses the pseudonym Alison Brown in this issue, perhaps as a reference to her estranged step-father, Nick Brown.

The Janet Jackson in this issue bears no resemblance or relation to the real-life pop-singer of the same name. Incidentally, DAZZLER #33 featured a satirical character named Teddy Lingard who parodied Janet Jackson’s brother, Michael. Further, Dazzler also appears in WOLVERINE FIRST CLASS #16, an issue that contains a joke about Janet Jackson’s infamous 2004 wardrobe malfunction at the Super Bowl.

First and only appearance of the Racine Ramjets

The final page of this issue contains a slew of errors: Barb’s dress is mis-colored green in one panel, Beefee’s word balloon in panel two comes from Barb, and Dazzler takes money from Tex instead of Beefee, the character to whom she’s speaking.

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