13 February 2008

What Is The Point Of Dazzler?

The Dark Phoenix Saga
Chris Claremont

Possible spoilers

One thing I enjoyed about reading Dark Phoenix was the chance to see the origins of two of my favorite X-Men characters. These are Kitty Pryde and Emma Frost--Kitty I like because I feel like I can relate to her, just a bit. Emma's cool because...well, she's intelligent, sarcastic, and generally in control of herself, she's a psychic, and she's super hot.

Emma particularly has been a constant in most of the X-Men comics I've read. She's a central character in Joss Whedon's Astonishing X-Men, which is the first X-Men series I ever read. She's similarly important in Grant Morrison's run on New X-Men, which I read after Astonishing even though it came first. And now I get to see her way early on.

Kitty, too--not so much in New X-Men, but she's a member of the main team in Astonishing, and she's smart and interesting and has a really cool power. Whedon even references the events of her introduction in Dark Phoenix. She's neat. There's a point to her.

However, Emma and Kitty aren't the only characters introduced in Dark Phoenix Saga. There's also Dazzler. She's a disco queen.

Why, oh gods, why is there a disco queen?

If you haven't heard of her before, or read Dark Phoenix Saga, you may not know of her. She's an aspiring singer trying to break into the disco scene. She wears a skintight silver jumpsuit and high heels made of disco. Her power is to create lots of bright lights very suddenly. She mainly uses it in her act, but she can also give people seizures or make them go blind.

Seizures. Disco. What the hell, people.

See, it's similar to part of my problem with Jean Grey. I think it would be possible to do interesting things with a power like that, but mainly as she's written she's just irritating. And the other day, when I found a copy of (le sigh) the Essential Dazzler, I was told by my boyfriend that her solo comic mainly just followed her attempts to start up a singing career. But, apparently, she has also done some superheroing, also solo.

Now, my problem with that is, how do you make a power like hers useful in a superhero context without backup? Bright lights can be useful, but they're not exactly subtle; it'd make infiltrating easy, and even with seizures and blindness and everything, it's not a terribly helpful combat power. From what I've seen in Dark Phoenix, she's not very good at hand-to-hand fighting, either.

So what is the point of her? Hearing about someone's futile grabs at a singing career is dull. She's not a good solo fighter. She has awful taste in clothing, so she's not even fun to look at.

Also, she's a disco queen. Some references to current popular culture I expect in any comic set in modern times. But the whole "disco queen" thing just dates it. I know, I know, nothing ages worse than science fiction, but that doesn't prevent my mind from imploding.

Who knows? Someone out there might be a big Dazzler fan, and I won't judge you if you are. But I just can't see the point.


deathtotroybolton said...

She was eventually able to turn them unto solid beams of light she could blast at people, a bit like Cyclops. They also turned her more into a pop rock star as time went by.
They're bringing her back in a major way, believe me, she has potential.

b-rad said...

By the end of her run with X-Men, (back when they had Blue and Gold teams), she actually proved to kick some a$$ when she teamed up with the Blue team to put a permanent end to Mojo. Her light powers had evolved from a burning laser she would normally use to cut through things, into a disintegrating laser she used to burn a hole through Mojo's forehead. He's also able to solidify her light, and use it as a force beam, like Cyclops. She also used a combination of light effects to put the Juggernaut under hypnosis once.

Later on in the series, Jean Grey recruited her as part of a black ops team to fight Magneto (or I think it was a clone of) in order to rescue the other X-Men...it's the storyline where Jean Grey dies. Dazzler's power had evolved again to the point where she was able to create and fully animate 3-D holograms of herself, used as a decoy.

During her run with the last incarnation of Excalibur, Dazzler had further evolved into a pretty kick butt fighter. Her lasers and solid beams packed a huge punch, her blasts of light used as a blinding effect spanned a couple of miles (in a fight against evil versions of the original X-Men), and she began to form her light into weapons, such as swords.

She took her remedial martial arts training that she got from Wolverine and her time on the X-Men, and stepped it up a notch, by training with Sage, Juggernaut and Pete Wisdom. Evetually, she took down Juggernaut one on one in a sparring match.

She also developed a secondary mutation of self-ressurection. In new Excalibur, she'd died twice, and within a few hours, found herself alive again. Her wounds didn't really heal, the way a healing factor would, but she was alive when she shouldn't be.

She's got cropped pink hair now, and a more pissy attitude...she kinda resembles Pink in a sense...she drives a motorcycle, wears cargo pants and a leather jacket as a uniform, and is more rock and roll now than disco.

She's supposed to turn up as a major player in Astonishing X-Men, and play a key role in the San Francisco team.

Hope that helps some with demystifying the point of Dazzler.