Sunday, 19 February 2012
DAZ #12: "Endless Hate"
(A dish best served with lasers.)
After Alison's ridiculous-yet-interesting adventure with Project Pegasus, and her ridiculous-yet-tiresome encounter with Galactus, it's apparently time for our heroine to get back to her life. Hurrah! Job one is to arrange a dinner date with Dr Tightpants. Frankly, she seems entirely too enamoured of the man, telling him she loves him. It's only been a few weeks since you met, kiddo! Maybe it's a comic-time thing (in terms of publication dates, it's been more than half a year), or maybe Fingeroth has no respect for a woman's self-control.
Or, I guess, "true love" is actually real, or some shit, and I'm a bitter coal-hearted Grinch. Answers on a postcard.
Job two is trying to patch things up with Harry Osgood. Unsurprisingly, this proves difficult, partially because Alison can't tell the truth about where she's been (or so she thinks, though he's already aware that she's both a mutant and the sort of person to stick her nose in supervillain-wise), but mainly because he's still on edge following Techmaster's attempt on his life. He and his family are now escorted by security guards everywhere they go, which is clearly not too much fun. That said, it's obviously not an unwise decision, since Techmaster is clearly planning another attack, having built a voice-changer to lure Harry to a dinner date... with DEATH!
Harry's mood is black enough to palm Alison off on Sid, a promoter of dubious repute. Soon enough, Dazzler finds herself making ends meet by singing at a grand opening for Generic Fast Food Chain #1 (whose mascot is "the burglar clown"; good luck figuring out that riddle!). Still, a gig is a gig, and maybe now she'll have some money for food, or possibly to fix her broken fridge, which is so messed up things stored in it apparently go bad overnight. Those winter New York nights are just too damn hot, I guess.
When Alison shows up for dinner that evening we learn Dr Smoulder-Eyes has an ulterior motive for the occasion - they're double-dating with Dr Sloan and his wife, and Dr Firm-Biceps has his eye on a promotion. Unfortunately, the date goes awry. This is of course entirely predictable - any readers who are aware of a "you need to impress my boss" scene in any fiction anywhere that goes right all the way through are encouraged to mention them in comments - but there's at least an amusing level of (accidental?) parody here. Not only are the Sloans total dicks (was there really anyone in the '80s who still held a grudge about what Elvis Presley did to music?), but Alison is idiotic enough to invite two tight-arsed opera fans to a Plasmatics gig. All things considered, Alison bringing things to a close by spilling a vase of flowers on Dr Sloan's lap is probably one of the best conclusions possible.
Dr Widejaw doesn't really see things that way, though, and he has himself a bit of a sulk when they get back to Dazzler's apartment. Fortunately for him, Alison is classy enough to apologise for being off her game, as oppose to pointing out turning their first date in weeks into an attempt to climb the greasy pole is a bullshit move of epic proportions. Eventually he works that out for himself, and the pair make up with some implied sexy-time, but when he leaves, Dr Stronghands is concerned. How can he stay with a beautiful, passionate and understanding woman who's not good at impressing dickheads?
The next morning, Alison gets a call from Sid. He has more work available, and Dazzler is still sufficiently desperate to say "yes". There's just time for a few shots of Alison, clad in manners known by man as "scanty", and then the door, she is out of it.
Alas, that voice she heard at the end of the telephone was a trick! 'Tis really Techmaster who has summoned her. Let's see if Dazzler can pick up on the subtle clues that something is askew. A new rendezvous in a huge but unnamed building in Long Island? No. Fine with that. An escort from the "company chauffeur", arranged by a man who's business is providing back-up singers for McSomebody's openings? Nope, that's cool. The revelation that she's been taken inside a gigantic, fully automated factory, where there are no witnesses and no conceivable connection to Sid's agency (apparently, talent scouts are known for branching out into hi-tech laser to create transducers)? Not a problem.
Sid showing up and actually being Techmaster? Ah. That seems to have induced a penny-drop.
Interestingly, Techmaster isn't after either help with killing Harry, or revenge for her ruining his last attempt on the man's life. Instead, he wants the secret of Dazzler's stage show, so he can either use it sell it on. That's a nice little fake-out, actually, though since Techmaster promises he'll do Alison some major harm if she doesn't spill the beans, I guess it doesn't really matter one way or the other. For reasons I don't entirely understand, Techie locks Dazzler inside a booth with a four-hour lock on the door so she can think over his final offer (loads of money and not being hideously injured), whilst he goes off to ruin Harry's lunch.
And ruined it most definitely is. Harry's enforcer doesn't stay around long after Techmaster crushes his magnum and threatens to do the same thing to his testicles (I may be extemporising slightly here), and Harry himself goes along meekly once he's informed his house is wired with explosives, and so his only real choice is whether or not his family will die alongside him.
Back at the factory, Dazzler is almost ready to attempt escape, having spent some time slowly charging up using radio static. It took me a while to work out why Techmaster locked her in a sound-proof room, actually, that seemed far too convenient. Looking back, though, I think Techmaster is assuming she's using a variant on his own sound transducers to create her light shows, so maybe he hit on the right strategy for the wrong reason. Either way, Daz has finally got enough juice to start generating lasers, and she's free pretty quick after that.
The first thing she sees upon escape though is Techmaster escorting Harry through the factory. Techie is cackling loudly about his intention to disappear forever once Harry is dead. I suppose that explains why he was willing to abduct Harry from a crowded restaurant, and Alison works out that the four-hour lock on the booth was to keep her out of trouble whilst the hit went down. Was all that stuff about her stage tricks just a bluff, then? Why go through with that at all? Or is he planning on rising from the underground later to press her for information again? I'll admit to being slightly confused.
Dazzler tries to take out Techmaster before he can feed Harry to the factory lasers, but the villain has already put on his anti-glare goggles, keeping him safe. Dazzler manages to blast them off his face, but by that point, Techie has pushed her back into the sound-proof booth. The issue gains bonus sexual equality points for having Alison being the only person smart enough to work out that the Techmaster isn't really all that dangerous - he's just an executive with very strong hands, and so vulnerable to Dazzler's significantly better reflexes and general physical fitness - only to lose them all again for having her defeat her foe by, I swear to God, repeatedly hitting him with her purse.
Unable to withstand the unstoppable assault of this Gucci accessory (seriously, she specifically mentions it's a Gucci), Techmaster beats a hurried retreat, and manages to fall over the gantry railings towards his own lasers. Fortunately, Harry grabs him just in time, and, after considering his options for a second or two, drags his nemesis to safety.
Humbled by what's happened, Techmaster vows to leave them both alone, and leaves. Harry and Dazzler, for their part, apologise to each other for the last couple of days.
This story begins "a few days" after Dazzler's return from Galactus' thrall. We'll assume that means four days.
Monday 24th to Tuesday 25th January, 1983.
X+4Y+289 to X+4Y+290.
The US, as always, found itself at loggerheads with Iran:
"You're one of the few people I've ever trusted with the knowledge that I'm am mutant -- and yet you seem totally unaware that I might have any special problems because of that fact!"
It's not a brilliantly written slice of dialogue, admittedly, and if Dazzler had said this at the start of the issue rather than the last page, it probably would have helped. Still, there's a nice nod here to the books sometime metaphor of persecution by the majority, and how claiming to have no problems with someone isn't really worth shit if you run for cover the moment your relationship with them causes you the slightest inconvenience.