Tuesday, 3 January 2012
DAZ #4: "Here Nightmares Reside!"
("Even Doom may err... in his choice of pawns!")
Things are looking bad for poor Ms Blaire, held hostage by a pair of Doom's robots whilst the man himself prepares to launch her into an alternate dimension to steal the second Merlin stone (I'm still manfully resisting using the obvious "Doom's Jewels" joke - I hope you're proud of me). Doom taunts Dazzler for her silence, but she's too scared to talk. That's quite nice, I think, an interesting change from the usual defiant snappy patter, though she quickly recovers. Being able to speak and being able to resist are not the same thing, of course, and Alison finds herself summarily dispatched to a new universe in order to acquire Doom's desired trinket.
Over at the UN, Dazzler's management, the chief of security, and the Human Torch are all trying to piece together exactly what's happened. No-one seems to have much of an idea, but the realisation that only one comparatively worthless jewel sets off alarm bells in Johnny Storm's head, which increase in ferocity once the dazed Dr Frazen begins ranting about Doom ruining his plans.
By this point, Dazzler has arrived at her destination, which she claims is mad enough to risk her entering "Cracker City", but to me looks like pretty much every other freaky alternate dimension Marvel have ever come up with, some kind of wibbly cosmic backdrop surrounding a single pointlessly tortuous road. Also appearing: the obligatory demon-cloud monsters, hungry for human flesh, even though it might taste bad, or be poisonous to them, or something. Like eggs and gnomes in Return to Oz.
Anyway, whether or not digesting her will kill these beasts isn't really a question Dazzler's interested in - she just wants to stay off the menu. She grabs her portable radio so as to quickly soak up some sound-waves, but realises too late that she's unlikely to get particularly good reception now she's in a different universe, and realises not at all that she could just turn the volume to full and use the static for much the same effect. The demons envelop her, much to the watching Doom's chagrin.
Not that Doom is upset she's failed to grab the stone, of course. He was pretty sure she'd never manage that. He is though somewhat bothered that she didn't even get so far as revealing any useful info about her enforced vacation spot before she was gobbled up by gaseous monsters. How, he laments, is he possibly going to save the world (by taking it over, natch), when this is the quality of playing pieces he gets handed in the universal game.
(This, by the way, is one of the reasons Doom ranks amongst the greatest of Marvel villains - his utter certainty that he is humanity's only hope for survival. He's not the only antagonist to be convinced that their schemes are actually for the benefit of the world, but I think Doom can be considered unique in that it's not the twisted nature of his endgame that's the problem (compared to turning everyone into mutants, slaughtering humanity, removing the physical realm to force us all to exist as a gestalt psychic presence, etc.) it's just the fact, obvious to all but him, that he'd be a shitty ruler. I'll take that over any number of ludicrously warped visions of utopia.)
Doom changes the channel in disgust, and so misses Alison's last second escape, having used the demons own howls of victory to re-power herself and start dazzling. I suppose that makes up for the radio SNAFU. She's only just recovered from that attack when something tries to turn her own nightmares against her (specifically by manipulating her daddy issues), but she's getting her bearings now, and she shrugs off the attack and continues on. Next up his her own negative image, who fires globes of darkness at our heroine. But does she create them using sound, like Dazzler. Or does she need silence? The superhero opposites game is hard work, as Seinfeld has made abundantly clear:
In any case, Nega-Daz doesn't last long, as Alison goads her into screaming in rage, providing fuel for Dazzler's light-storm. Sick of the failures of his constructs, the lord of the realm himself appears to do battle: Nightmare, lord of dreams and rider of flying black unicorns. He talks a good game (albeit with ridiculous inflections), but it's no use. By now Dazzler has become sufficiently tuned to the constant background noise of this universe (the music of these particular spheres, perhaps, of the song of Lord Nightmare's balls - I didn't promise to avoid all testicle jokes), and he eventually exchanges the Merlin stone in exchange for Alison leaving his domain.
A moment later, Doom returns Dazzler to his hidden New York base, but fighting off nightmares and Nightmare has made Alison a good deal braver than when she left. Using one lightshow to deal with Doom's robots - they open fire on the bursts and end up totalling each other, killbot-style - Dazzler focusses another to laser intensity and obliterates both Merlin stones, pointing out she doesn't even know what the stones were for, she's just pissed off at being press-ganged by an ironclad prick. Doom's response is a blast that leaves her close to death, but the arrival of Johnny Storm (whose been working through Doom's haunts after listening to Frazen's ranting) causes him to retreat, rather than defeat him in insufficiently humiliating circumstances.
And so Dazzler escapes, technically, though considering how horribly she is injured, will she live long enough to enjoy, or even recognise, her freedom?
This issue begins soon after the last one ended. It's not clear how much time passes, but it's plausible this whole adventure takes place on the same night as the UNICEF concert.