Friday, 27 January 2012
DAZ #8: "Hell... Hell Is For Harry!"
(Man, that's a shitty cover. Dazzler looks like she's been assimilated by two giant Borg-oranges that she's stuffed into her catsuit. When will people learn that oranges are our sworn foes?)
Up in Harry S. Osgood's office, the big man himself - along with Lance, the pretty-boy with the brownest nose in showbiz - is watching performance tapes of Dazzler, trying to work out how her trademark SFX are created. Frustrated by the mystery, he phones up Alison (interrupting another now-abortive date with Paul), and demands she present herself forthwith.
When faced with the actual question, Alison realises she's in something of a bind. Does she risk being fired by keeping her mouth shut, or risk her safety by outing herself as a mutant. For that matter, how likely is it that Osgood would be willing to keep a mutant on the books in any case? If a few dozen people in a subway station are prepared to rip your limbs off for foiling a mugging, it seems entirely plausible that your employment prospects are similarly precarious, especially since you've been a risky proposition from the get-go.
There's kind of an interesting moral question under all of this: are there people who have the right to know you're a mutant? Not just because they're at risk of a supervillain attack or the arrival of an angry mob at any moment, but because much as we might wish otherwise, mutants as a group are dangerous within themselves. Even those that seem stable could undergo an extreme secondary mutation at any time (though of course that wasn't a feature of mutants when this issue was published). There's obviously a lot of in-universe and real world dislike of Senator Kelly-style mandatory registration, but it doesn't follow from that that there isn't some kind of moral duty here. Indeed, it's possible that consciously or otherwise Harry suspects Alison is a mutant, and wants confirmation (it's also almost certainly the case that Harry's interest is born out of concern for public safety, as we'll see later).
I don't really have an answer to any of that; I just thought it was worth considering. In any event, Dazzler's decision on the matter is to tell Harry to piss off.
Whilst Dazzler heads home to sulk/plan a new career, and Harry is off on some errand perhaps best left unconsidered, the Enforcers (hired last issue by Villainous McHideyface to kill Dazzler's amply-proportioned managed) break into Osgood's rehearsal room - currently occupied by Lance and one of Osgood's other bands, who apparently also feature a female singer who Lance is attempting to get into bed - and start smashing the place up. Lance's self-preservation instincts once again overtake his bravado, and he meekly watches as the mercenary trio break windows, amps, and a century-old Steinway piano. Now that is just low. If music industry bigwigs have to be rubbed out, then that's something I believe I can live with, but leave the antiques out of it. Harry himself returns halfway through but, seeing the damage being done inside, beats a hasty retreat.
Once the Enforcers run out of things to smash ("Destroy all objects!", as we used to say when trying to maximise our vandalism in games of Umbrella Chronicles) they head back to their employer's Twin Tower offices for further instructions. In addition to new marching orders, they get to see exactly who's pulling their strings:
Not pictured: the awesome bionic hands that led me to briefly hope he was Doctor Claw.
Techmaster figures Harry is too smart to have hidden at home, and this proves to be true, he's headed over to Dazzler's apartment instead. Alison, of course, wants to know just what the Hell is going on, which means it's flashback time!
Several years earlier
Harry's putting together a titanic New Year's Eve disco bash, and he hires special effects guru Billy "Techmaster" Bitzer. Bitzer's new ideas are a bit low on what people in the trade call "basic safety precautions", and Osgood is forced to refuse permission for Bitzer's Massive Random Internal Roof Lightning Explosion, or whatever Billy wants to call it.
Billy, of course, completely ignores these instructions, sets his machine off, kills someone, finds the emergency shut-off is fused, kills a bunch more people, gets his hands blown off, starts screaming in pain (accompanied by the sound ofmore people getting killed) and finally has his face melted by one of his own lightning bolts.
Naturally, he blames Harry.
The last days of disco
There's not much time for Dazzler to absorb Harry's story, because the Enforcers have found them! They effortlessly cow Alison (if only she had some kind of superpower!) and abduct Harry, smashing the phone on the way out to prevent her summoning help.
Once the coast is clear and Alison has calmed down, realises she needs to head out to a payphone. Time is of the essence! Why, she barely has time to strip down to her underwear. Once suitably attired, she goes down to the street, and tries in vain to persuade first the police (who aren't interested) and then Lance (who isn't home) to come with her as she cases out the disco hall (now supermarket) where Bitzer was originally hurt. Eventually, she faces up to the fact that she'll have to go in alone (if only she had some kind of superpower!), aside from the taxi driver who gets her there. She's barely finished paying him and watching him drive off when a gun-toting hood gets the drop on her (if only she had...!), and brings her into the shopping centre.
Inside she's reunited with a now hogtied Harry, along with the Enforcers, who are rather pleased about the unexpected arrival of a nice bit of entertainment. Luckily for our heroine, though, the three villains have set up shop (no pun intended) near the supermarket's tannoy system, and she's able to lunge towards it and turn it on full blast. The resulting tsunami of music allows her to dazzle the Enforcers and escape. Then she's captured again. Then she escapes. Then she's captured again. All in the space of four pages, which might just explain why no-one thinks to turn the music off. I realise Ox is too stupid and Montana probably too inbred to have figured it out, but what's Fancy Dan's excuse? Too fancy? Or is his ridiculous hat so tight it's cutting off the blood to his brain?
Dazzler escapes again, and this time makes it stick, throwing a can of peas through the store-front and so setting off the alarms. By the time the Enforcers wake up from their light-induced comas, the police have already arrived. All of this heroism has come at a price, though: Osgood now knows Alison's secret. Even this works out in her favour, however; Harry promises he's not the bigoted type even regarding mutants that haven't saved his life.
Another happy ending, then. But not one entirely without loose ends. Techmaster has escaped justice, for one thing. And, only the morning after saving her boss from his enemies, Dazzler finds herself approached by the latest in a long line of Shadowy Figures (this one wearing special anti-dazzle glasses), and she's forced at implied gunpoint into the back seat of a car, there to meet: Mr Meeker...
There's a few things to square away this issue. Dazzler mentions her encounter with an unpleasant mob in DAZ #6 happened "recently". If we set this issue the day after DAZ #7, then "recently" translates into "three days ago". Which is technically fine, but I'd think you'd be more likely to describe that as "just days ago".
There's also the fact that Dazzler manages a (brief) date with Dr Paul Sexyman (I don't remember his real name) here, which suggests a little time has passed, since during DAZ #7 Nurse Clungeblocker (I do remember her real name, this one is just funnier) was throwing away Dazzler's messages to him. I suppose Alison could have simply called later in the day (or Sexyman could have picked up the phone and called her), of course.
Thirdly, we have the Mysterious Stranger, who in the final panel of DAZ #7 announced he would have to contact Alison "soon", and who has now moved to "ASAP", which again at least implies we're not following on directly. Contrary to all of this, however, we have the fact that Montana, Ox and Fancy Dan were hired last issue to kill Osgood, and only make their first attempt this issue. One presumes that when hires assassins to kill an unarmed fat man in a known location, one expects the job to be done with a certain degree of promptness.
In order to balance all this, as best as a man can, I'm going to assume we've skipped a day (presumably Montana and Fancy Dan needed a full 24 hours to explain the plan to Ox). The issue itself takes place over two days.
Wednesday 11th to Thursday 12th of January, 1983.
X+4Y+276 to X+4Y+277.
Satellites detect unusual auroral features in the Earth's atmosphere.
"The explosion of pain in her stomach has not yet subsided as a rock-hard fist slams into her face -- her face!"
Ah, simpler times, eh? Back when all a man needed to prove that they were evil even by the standards of lawless assassins was to punch a girl in the face, even though they were pretty.