Sunday, 8 January 2012
DAZ #5: "Tell Joey I Love Him!"
(Favours for a stranger.)
Dazzler is now in the hospital, and deep in delirium. Doom and the Enchantress assail her in her dreams, along with Nightmare, which is nothing if not appropriate. But there's another figure there as well, someone Alison doesn't recognise, but who apparently scares her more than anyone else present. Imagine the implications of that: a man in a nightmare so terrifying he outstrips the entity responsible for nightmares themselves whilst it stands right before you. Whether Nightmare considers this an encroachment upon his territory, or at least a breach of professional ethics, this story does not record.
Eventually, Dazzler awakes. This is, perhaps, not a standard hospital stay. The nurse is a sneering Puritan: "That silver jumpsuit! A blatant invitation to trouble" she announces huffily, because we all know a girl only has herself to blame when her sexy attire gets her jumped by megalomaniacs wanting to hurl them into another dimension. The doctor seems more interested in knocking roller skates with Alison than keeping an eye on any head trauma (not that Dazzler minds the attention, actually). And the woman in the next bed keeps talking in her sleep, moaning about someone called Joey, and how much she loves him.
Up north a few blocks, there's a meeting being held by various elements of the local criminal, er, element. The flunkies of local crime boss Bo Barrigan are dividing up the loot. Payday is interrupted, though, by the Blue Shield, a super-strong bullet-proof man who takes the hoodlum's money. But is he returning it to it's rightful owners? Or is he keeping it for himself? Either way, he clearly has it in for Barrigan, and Blue Shield isn't going to stop the attacks just because Barrigan has found himself some kind of mysterious super-weapon.
By the next morning, Dazzler is feeling well enough for her doctor to try hitting on her. His technique is nicely original, I suppose: he kicks off by regaling Alison with the story of her room-mate Anita's life (which you'd think would be a violation of something, wouldn't you?). Joey, we learn, was her son, who narrowly escaped death during a gangland shoot-out that claimed his father's life. Bo Barrigan, who was the target of the attack, felt guilty enough to offer Anita money to support her. She turned him down flat, but Joey accepted instead once he came of age, and now works in Barrigan's "organisation".
Doctor Paul finishes off his tale with an offer of brunch, but Dazzler turns him down in favour of heading to her manager's and hoping she hasn't been cut adrift. In fact, though, it's just the opposite - Osgood is so delighted by Dazzler's publicity following the UN heist, he even gives her an advance. With her immediate financial crises alleviated, Alison is feeling charitable, and since she knows how it feels to lose family members - or be discarded by them, she recruits Beast over at Avengers Mansion to track down Anita's son.
The trace doesn't take long, but when Dazzler goes to see him, Joey is out, attending a meeting with Barrigan, who is unveiling the one-man "terror tank" he's stolen from the military, and intends to use to crush the Blue Shield.
Except - and it this is even close to a surprise, I'd suggest you read around a bit more - Joey is the Blue Shield, determined to bring down the man indirectly responsible for getting his father killed. Interesting that his quest to avenge his father has led to him abandoning his mother, isn't it? And even with Dazzler stood outside his office, waiting to talk to him, he brushes her off contemptuously, thinking she's a hopeful model looking for a job.
Angry, Dazzler follows him when he leaves, but lacking transport she has to hire a taxi, which leaves her deep in a rather unpleasant area of the docks. Alison heads off to a warehouse she saw labelled "Barrigan", and she has just enough time to discover the terror-tank hidden within before Bo himself shows up, flanked by goons, and grabs our heroine. She gives a good account of herself (it's radio and magnetic roller-wheel time once again), but she's clearly in trouble, so Joey, watching in the shadows, puts on his Blue Shield costume and leaps in to help out.
Frankly, Dazzler is less than impressed by the attempted rescue ("Do you always make such grand entrances? You must be a mass of insecurities!"), especially given his suffocating patriarchal attitude (it's almost cute to hear Dazzler complain about "a male chauvinist super hero!", as though she hasn't listened to a word any male hero has ever said in her presence since she first met the X-Men). Still, they make for an effective combination, until Bo scrambles inside his stolen weapon, and prepares to gain his revenge.
The terror tank turns out to be fairly formidable, considering it's essentially just an R2 unit with tracks and cannons. Blue Shield gets nowhere before he's unceremoniously blasted. Dazzler tries another of the maximum intensity bursts that got her out of trouble when fighting that demon three issues earlier, but the terror tank is made of sterner stuff - the visual scanners are overloaded, but Barrigan still has heat sensors to fall back on, and now Alison is out of charge.
It's time for a desperate plan, and to trust to luck. Dazzler lures the tank onto a jetty, gambling whatever sensors Barrigan has left won't be able to detect the surrounding water, and also that Bo will have completely forgotten that he was fighting on the waterfront. Annoyingly, the plan works, and Barrigan drives his vehicle straight into the water. The now-recovered Blue Shield dives in after him; crushing Bo's empire was one thing, but he can't let the man himself die. Barrigan has become like a second father to him, he realises, which as ironies go has to be particularly painful. Sick of fighting, Blue Shield lays the unconscious Barrigan on the jetty for the cops, and asks Dazzler why she's here in any case.
Alison tells him of Cartelli, and his dying mother, and that she came all the way out here because a woman she met once wanted a man she now can't find to hear a message: "Tell Joey I love him."
A day later, the hospital has two visitors. A man in a trench coat and wide-brimmed hat, and a certain blue aura, arrives at Anita's bedside to talk to her about the family he once lost. And a fiery young blond us here as well, to let a certain dashing doctor take her to dinner. It's a happy ending for everyone. Everyone, that is, apart from the mad nurse woman, who's none to happy at the sight of sexy Doctor Paul stepping out with Dazzler, and resolves to take matters into her own hands.
This story begins soon after DAZ #4, and continues over the next three days.