Friday, 24 February 2012
DAZ #13: "Trial... And Terror!"
This is interesting. Even more so than last issue, this book has gone in completely the opposite direction to the bog-standard superhero title I was afraid Galactus' arrival heralded. The main story here revolves around the aftershocks of the Project: PEGASUS debacle, but had Klaw gotten himself killed in a more prosaic fashion, there's very little here to differentiate Dazzler's travails from those of any other woman trapped inside an unabashed melodrama. She has another desperately frosty encounter with her estranged father (who in all fairness can probably be forgiven for not being too happy when he comes home and finds her boosting his dead wife's jewellery), she finds her agent still has nothing for her (a quick gig as a singing telegram prevents her from total destitution), and Doctor Crotchthrob breaks up with her in a crowded restaurant.
(Which, by the way, is an act of total and utter gittitude. Don't invite your girlfriend to a swanky joint, knowing she'll spend hours getting ready, just so you can tear her heart out before she can even start her entree. Once you've made that fateful decision, it can be hard to work out how best to deliver the news without doing too much damage, but if find it happening whilst your partner is a black satin evening dress, you have Fucked Up.)
Dazzler is almost home from her humiliating heave-ho when she runs into two men claiming to be federal marshals. They're under instructions to arrest her for Klaw's murder. It seems odd that PEGASUS would want to press this, actually, given they must presumably want to remain under the radar as much as possible, especially given they held Alison, a US citizen, hostage for a week or so. Indeed, a paranoid mind might assume the feds are actually there to make sure she can't talk. Maybe that's why Dazzler blasts them, and makes a run for it.
Dazzler doesn't seem to be any better at keeping her head down than PEGASUS are, even though she goes to the effort of stealing a wino's hat to act as a disguise (the evening wear doesn't really help in this regard). She hides for a while in an all night cinema, but decides to turn herself in the next morning. Given her earlier attempt to escape, she's thrown into a Ryker's Island cell for the night (her pro bono lawyer tells her there's pressure from high up the food chain to get her trial underway the following day, presuambly PEGASUS is pulling some strings).
This is where we reach the only part of the comic which really reads like a superhero story, and not coincidentally, it's also the least interesting. Don't get me wrong, I don't wish every issue was like this, but it's a shame Fingeroth shied away from running with the "slice of life" angle for the whole issue. Dazzler, whilst wearing a cut-off top so skimpy you can only assume a porn studio across the bay is having to film "The Shawshank Erection"  with full jumpsuits due to a hilarious mix-up at the dry cleaners, is dragged from her bunk by the local supervillainesses. They want a look at the woman who they've heard shut up Klaw permanently, and having looked at her, then want to beat her up.
Worse luck for them, they've forgotten a cardinal rule of the super-powered community: if someone who looks entirely harmless has fatally messed up a known bad-ass, then assume there's more to them than there appears. All it takes is one sound-attack from Screaming Mimi (and holy God, I can see why she switched to being Songbird), and Dazzler has enough juice to level her assailants, and get herself back to bed.
Day dawns soon enough, and Alison's trial begins. The jury have been sworn to secrecy given PEGASUS' top secret nature, which I guess is something, though I still don't see what their endgame is. Are they hoping to be able to swing custody of Dazzler somehow?
Not they really have much of a case. For a start, they're arguing that Dazzler signed away her right to leave the facility, which should have immediately had them laughed out of court ("I can't have kidnapped her! She signed this form in triplicate!". Their other argument isn't much better - she should have sufficient control over her powers to have not had to kill Klaw - but I can see why the prosecution would use it and hope the jury were sufficiently anti-mutant to convict on that alone. Actually, that could be turned into a much more interesting story than this one, and I'm not sure it's ever really been done. Magneto's trial doesn't really count, given he was a self-confessed terrorist, and these days Cyclops' X-Men tend to fight tooth and nail to stop mutants form ever having to see the inside of a courtroom in the first place.
In the end, Dazzler wins out, due to Quasar breaking ranks to testify on her behalf, and because her lawyer pulls out a bit of last-minute A Time To Kill style soliloquising. Forcing Meeker to admit on the stand that he was following Alison around for weeks probably helped as well. A happy ending all around, then, though it doesn't seem to have done much for our heroine's hatred of lawyers.
There's no real reference to how long ago last issue took place, which is unusual for this title. Indeed, the timings are a little hard to figure out here. On the one hand, Alison's grandmother tells her that Carter dislikes having his daughter in the house even more following her disappearance, which suggests that at least some time has passed. On the other hand, the implication during Dazzler's conversation with Harry Osgood is that this is their first meeting since she saved him from Techmaster, just a few days after her return.
We'll try and balance everything out by assuming a fortnight has passed, putting DAZ #13 between UXM #144 and #145 (which were actually published one year earlier).
Tuesday 8th to Friday 9th of February, 1983.
X+4Y+304 to X+4Y+305.
"Ladies and gentlemen, consider this: could you or I describe sight to someone blind from birth? I doubt it. Neither could we even begin to understand what it is like to possess power like that of Alison Blaire. It is beyond your, my, or anyone's comprehension -- as is the magnitude of the threat she faced in the person of Klaw, the aptly named murderous master of sound. I ask you ... do you have the right to judge this woman? Are you -- could anyone be -- a 'jury of her peers'?" - Kenneth Barnett, closing statement.
(Let's all try to not notice the fact that you could wield that argument in defence of pretty much any mutant at any time.)
 Turns out this is a real film, which I guess I should have assumed, due to some kind of weird corollary to Rule 34.