Tuesday, 31 January 2012
DAZ #9: "The Sound And The Fury!"
(Tested to destruction.)
Last time around we watched Dazzler being bundled into a black limousine to meet the mysterious "Mr Meeker". Today we learn that it's Meeker who's been following her around over the last few days. The car takes them to part of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where a jetcopter (presumably designed to allow maximum speed whilst also keeping the Cloisters grass nice and tidy) is waiting for Meeker and Alison. Ignoring her questions, he flies her to a secret base in Mount Athena, somewhere north of NYC.
Dazzler, we learn, has been "recruited" by Project PEGASUS ( Potential Energy Group / Alternate Sources / United States), who are looking for ways to harness mutants' power as energy sources. That's actually a really good idea, and one I've always been surprised doesn't pop up more often. It's also probably not surprising that the US would be so lax regarding the definition of a volunteer. You have to begrudgingly admire a bunch of Feds so amoral and wrapped in double-think that they can argue Alison has come of her own free will since they didn't actually point their guns at her, and then immediately imply that if she leaves, they'll out her as a mutant in the flesh. Nice bunch.
Fortunately for them, and Alison, they have an ace up their sleeve, the apparently exceedingly dashing superhero Quasar (real name "Wendell", which explains his desire for an alternative identity). One look at him, and Dazzler becomes far less concerned with such nebulous concepts as "freedom", or the fact she already has a man back home. In don't mind so much that Dazzler's potential new employers thought up this plan, but the fact it works so completely doesn't say much for how much grasp Fingeroth has on the workings of the female mind.
Especially since Quasar is clearly an idiot, ending Dazzler's tour as he does with a look around "the compound", where various super-villains are held. For one, what could possibly make someone think a "super-hero type" like Alison would want to take a look at the opposition? ("Hi, Death Dave, this is Dazzler. Remember her face next time you escape and start up a murderous rampage, huh?")? Second, why would you show a mutant that you've got another mutant locked away, whilst admitting that he's not actually a criminal, just a man with the mind of a child who needs keeping inside a special "crib"? (Luckily, Dazzler doesn't mind, because of Wendell's well-defined forearms, or something, because that is how women roll.) Finally, when showing off a devious criminal like the Klaw, wouldn't you keep an eye on whether he's typing out messages to your guest, whether you're talking into your radio or not?
"DON'T TRUST THEM!" warns Klaw. "SOON YOU'LL BE A PRISONER LIKE THE REST OF US!" Which I can well believe, actually, given their behaviour so far, and if they turn out not be arrogant, manipulative, heartless thugs, well, they've only got themselves to blame for painting that picture to begin with.
Over the next week, whilst her phone rings off the hook from calls from those desperate for contact and/or for a booty call, Dazzler is subjected to a veritable cannonade of tests. Most of them require her to wear a bikini, for some reason (this book really isn't doing too well on the Germaine Greer scale of feminism, I'd say it's at least four arrogantly raised Greer eyebrows, which as we all know, is only one short of being convertible into a withered Greer titty). Once she's finished, though, the duplicitous suits demand another round of poking and prodding, and reveal the permission form she signed for the first round of experiments actually contained a clause allowing them to study her pretty much indefinitely.
Dazzler's plussed is decidedly non-, and so it's time for a prison break. That's the plan, at least, but Quasar intercepts and easily defeats her. Exhausted by the fight, Alison slinks back to her quarters.
The next day, she arrives at breakfast in full Dazzler regalia, which is kind of worrying. When a superhero carries her costume around with her, that's prudence. When a singer carries her stage gear, it's unchecked narcissism, especially when they believe wearing it during the work day will cheer them up. Not that Quasar is really helping; he's still busy trying to explain how wonderful PEGASUS is and how important their work is. Confinement always looks different to those with no desire to leave.
I suppose Wendell can have some credit for persuading the PEGASUS brass not to keep Dazzler under 24 hour guard (though even that highlights how unconcerned he is that Dazzler has moved from volunteering through blackmail to being actually kept prisoner), but apparently his arguments were a little too good, because the guards seem perfectly happy to let her walk through the criminal-stocked compound without an escort. The reader will not be surprised to learn that this goes horribly wrong. Once again, Klaw sends her a message as she passes, warning her that the latest test he is will be forced to undergo will be excruciatingly painful. As two PEGASUS flunkies approach his cell with what looks like cattle-prods scaled up to take down a brachiosaur, Klaw's concerns seem entirely plausible. Dazzler also recalls how badly wrong everyone in authority is about the Hulk, which is a nice touch. Ordinarily I might think all this "arrogance breeds mistrust and resentment" stuff is a little trowelled-on, but this is the US government we're talking about, so I'm not sure overstatement is possible.
Klaw feigns agony so convincingly that Dazzler snaps, using her light powers to force back the dinosaur-prodders, accidentally allowing Klaw to escape in the process. He demonstrates his gratitude by flooring her with his sound-gun (which I'd think might have been worth confiscating at some point, but, whatever) and carving his way through the assorted nearby mooks. Quasar wades in to try and help, but Klaw has spent his imprisonment figuring out exactly what tactics to use to beat Wendell, and so he lasts no longer than Dazzler.
Speaking of which, however, Dazzler isn't the smear on the polished floor Klaw has assumed. Hitting a mutant who absorbs background noise with a beam of pure sound turns out to be a pretty bad idea. In truth, Alison isn't particularly keen on her all-new, all-glowing status, especially since Klaw failed to kill her but succeeded entirely in hurting like Hell. Even so, she's determined not to let the villain kill Quasar, the least gittish person she's met inside Mount Athena. Klaw has a grill that must be got up in.
Except as little damage as sound-waves can do to her, her own light powers are even less use against someone comprised entirely of sound (answers on a postcard regarding what the fuck that means, exactly). A rather more sound mind (no pun intended) than Klaw's would recognise a stalemate when presented with one, and just depart. Klaw's hackles are up, though, and so he gives killing Dazzler another go, only to find that this time, she's unshakable. Indeed, he's managed to set up a feedback loop. The more sound he fires, the more she absorbs; the more she absorbs, the more powerful she becomes, and the quicker the absorption rate becomes.
By the time Klaw works this out, it's too late. Alison is sucking up every sound within range, including him. Even the sound of his own horrifying death doesn't escape, which is a pretty cool splash of grimness. Dazzler manages to stop the chain reaction, and release some of the energy roiling inside her by burning a tunnel out of the mountain. Naturally, her scientific jailers are overjoyed by this new surge in ability, musing aloud about the opportunities this presents "for science!" Disgusted by this reaction to a man's death just seconds before, Dazzler uses her new powers to fly through the tunnel toward freedom.
But power is not control, of course, and within moments, Alison loses control of her flight, begins involuntarily blasting apart her surroundings, and collapses upon the mountainside.
Meanwhile, a billion light years away, a robotic figure observes Dazzler's plight upon its viewscreen. It pronounces itself impressed with the degree of power on display. It has, we learn, grow so large that it will be perfect for the robot's master, Galactus, to use as a mid-morning snack...
This issue follows on directly from DAZ #8. Dazzler describes her various probing sessions as having occurred over "the last week", and during her absence Johnny Storm mentions he'd arranged to meet up with Alison "this week". We also have to take into account the week Dr Paul has been at his conference, though who knows what crazy timetables these medical doctors keep.
All told, I think we can get away with assuming Dazzler stays with PEGASUS from Thursday to Wednesday before her first escape attempt. The issue ends on the following day.
Thursday 12th to Thursday 19th of January, 1983.
X+4Y+277 to X+4Y+284.
Klaus Barbie is arrested in Bolivia.
Imran Kahn, Julian Morris and Samantha Mumba are born.
"Then go ahead, you slime! Do it! And you'd better make sure I'm dead, or else I'll find you again somday, and somehow I'll make you pay!"
"Brave words. I shall remember them for at least a week." - Dazzler and Klaw.