Saturday, 14 January 2012
DAZ #6: "The Hulk Can Be Hazardous To Your Health!"
("The music of pain.")
You know, having mocked this title for the last five issues, I think I'm starting to warm to it. I mentioned before that Dazzler has certain similarities to Spider Man, principally the difficulty in holding down a job whilst also having to contend with super powers. But it's becoming increasingly clear that this book twists that idea in two main ways.
First: Dazzler's quest to become a singing sensation is a horrible grind (despite both her talent and her looks) quite independently of her superpowers. Alison's two lives are separate rather than intertwined. More importantly, though, Dazzler is absolutely desperate to not have anything to do with superheroics. "With mediocre power comes great desire to be left alone", as it were. Indeed, we're two thirds of the way through this issue before Dazzler comes across anything out of the ordinary (muggers notwithstanding). In place of mission briefings and portentous build-up, DeFalco is building up his cast of characters, all of which all belong to Dazzler's "normal life". The portly and imperious Osgood, the dismissive Cassandra, and the preening narcissist Lance are now joined by a new backing band for Alison; guitar player Marx, bassist Hunch, and drummer Beefer. None of them have much of in the way of character yet (barring Beefer, who's shtick seems to be he's a big man with a borderline eating disorder), but I'm glad to see them introduced for the names alone.
So, let's talk plot. The band have only just gotten together, and are hammering out their sound, but Osgood already has a gig lined up for them. And this one will even pay, which makes a change. There's always a catch, of course, and in this case, it's that they've been booked as a country band, despite not one of them looking like they've so much as heard of Hank Williams. Worse is to come, when Dazzler observes an attempted subway mugging as she makes her way home, and feels compelled to intervene. She manages to beat the muggers (just barely, by channelling the noise made by an approaching subway train) but her fellow commuters repay her with an attempted lynching, fearing her to be a mutant. Showbiz travails and the mutant metaphor. And we've not even gotten to the jade juggernaut yet.
Things pick up when Alison gets home to find Dr Paul waiting for her. Well, she thinks things have picked up, at least. I'm less convinced of the value of discovering a man who treated you for head trauma has used your medical records to follow you home. I guess nothing seems creepy if it's being done by someone sexy enough? Either way, Doctor Paul doesn't have long to drug her and tie her up in the sewers enjoy a bottle of wine before his pager goes off, and he has to return to the hospital. So now you have the difficulties inherent in a struggling singer attempting to date a characteristically busy doctor, set against the backdrop of the disco-soundtracked '80s and its attendant bigotry. With a ludicrous backing band and pussy-hungry bodyman for comic relief. Frankly, I'm not sure you need the superheroics on top of that, though I admit that I probably wouldn't read it.
Of course, I wouldn't be reading this, if I didn't suffer from the hideous condition known as OCDX.
What? Look it up, it's real.
The next day, Dazzler, Lance and the boys arrive at Gordon College for their gig. Also on campus is a certain Doctor Bruce Banner, looking to get a cleaning job that will give him an excuse to check out the science labs and their promising genetic research. Alas, HR is too savvy to hire a guy without a social security number, but Lance offers him ten dollars to play roadie, and Banner accepts.
Later, during Dazzler's surprisingly well-received set (apparently a cowboy hat and the odd "Yee-haw!" has carried the day), Banner breaks into the labs, only to be immediately rumbled. The resulting chase causes Brucie to hulk out, and the perennially confused green titan gets still madder when he falls down a lift shaft, swearing vengeance against those who brought him to this (which I think is gravity, pretty much, but whatever). His first port of call on his poorly-defined rampage of revenge proves to be the stage, where Dazzler and band are about to wrap up.
Dazzler is somewhat surprised by this particular stage invader, especially since she didn't really believe the Hulk was real in the first place (seriously, does no-one in the Marvel Universe pay any attention?). For his part, the Hulk is somewhat unimpressed to find four people wearing the exact same kind of stupid hats sported by those who tried to kill him in Texas. So is it the Hulk who's hazardous to your health, or just country music? Battle, inevitably, ensues. Dazzler gets the chance to try out generating holograms, but she hasn't gotten it down yet. On the other hand, Hulk's battle-plan in its entirety is to "small all light", which doesn't go very well, ultimately causing an unfortunate collision with some high-voltage equipment and a hasty retreat.
Despite realising that she's outmatched, even by the standards of her recent battles, Alison chases after the Hulk to try and stop him causing any more damage. Meanwhile, in the darkness of the auditorium, someone is watching her every move.
This story begins on a Friday, and continues until Saturday evening. The surrounding foliage seems a bit lush for the first third of December, but whatever else this title is, it's pretty specific on the various stages of Dazzler's career, and I don't see how there could possibly have been time to get to other side of winter.
The UN's provisions for the law of the sea are agreed.
"Here, Cassandra, let me move this incredibly heavy speaker over here so you can have a seat." - Lance