Thursday, 1 March 2012
DAZ #14: "...Without Getting Killed Or Caught!..."
(Identities mistaken and missing.)
In a seedy motel somewhere in Los Angeles, a man cleans his rifle. A newspaper clipping lies on his bed amongst guns, photos and camera equipment. Dazzler's face is circled in red.
Osgood is sending Dazzler on a trip somewhere, or at least he is if Alison can ever finish packing (is that a sexist stereotype? I've seen a significant amount of corroborative evidence). Somehow she makes it to the plane, and six hours later, they're in Los Angeles, meeting up with the band (not Lance, though - I can well believe he has more beauty products to pack than Dazzler does, stage make-up notwithstanding). Harry, we learn, has finally found Alison another gig - a replacement for Bruce Harris' backup band, who've quit on him, presumably because he's a dick.
There's just enough time for Dazzler to smell the roses (apparently a cross-continental gift from Ken, her lawyer in last issue's trial) and to gauge Harris' exact level of gittitude (spoiler: extreme), before she's in her dressing room, once again drawing stars around her eyes, and trying not to think about how badly the odds are stacked against first-choice back-up bands, never mind fill-ins.
There's bigger problems ahead than a hostile audience, though. Or, to be more accurate, this particular audience is liable to a lot more hostile than most. The hired killer is out in the auditorium, as well as three disreputable looking hoods who've already "cased the place".
Not far into a gig which, in fairness, seems to be going quite well for our heroine, Dazzler notices her light-show reflecting off something in the stalls, which on closer inspection proves to be a sniper scope. Alison throws a strobe blast at whomever is holding the gun, making him clip his target rather than killing him.
And who is the intended victim? It's Joe Cartelli, otherwise known as the Blue Shield. Taking time out from his busy Mafia-busting schedule to take in his friend's stage show, and he ends up almost getting himself JFK'd. I like the idea that Dazzler is about to dragged into to trouble again because of the people she knows, it works a bit better than always happening to have shit go down at her gigs at random.
Joe realises he's been winged by a bullet, and makes a quick exit. Outside, he changes into his costume, heads up to the box from where he figures the shot came, and beats down his assailant. Thanks to some useful expository thinking from Mr Cartelli, we learn he's ostensibly in town in order to take control of some local turf on behalf of his New York boss, but is presumably actually planning to punch out as many hoods along the way as he can. The unsavoury characters we met earlier watch the Blue Shield in action, and panic. How can they keep Cartelli from muscling in on their territory and keep their jaws from breaking under the Blue Shield's, er, blue shield?
But their leader, the crime boss known only as "Ed", isn't just a lack of a pretty face! It can't be a coincidence that a New York superhero beat the crap out of a hitman looking to scrag a New York gangster. There's only one explanation: the New York band!
(That sound you hear is William of Occam spinning in his grave. Well, actually, it's more likely to be a washing machine or the heating system.)
Yes, the jury has returned, and the verdict unanimous: the Blue Shield can only be pretty boy Lance. Whether they're right on that score or not, though, they're clearly going to need some heavy artillery to stand any chance against the notorious crime-buster. Fortunately for them, Ed has acquired a secret weapon from a crashed compact he passed a few days ago: a mind-controlled She-Hulk!
She's just back-up, though. Plan A involves two flunkies bursting in on Dazzler's post-gig poker game, and grabbing both her and Lance, who apparently has arrived in LA just in time to get a gun shoved in his face. They want him to fess up to being the Blue Shield; she's just an insurance policy against him getting his glow on. At least she doesn't need to worry about that at least, but when their escorts bring them to meet Ed at a truck depot, and he attacks Lance with his zombified super-being (powers include greenness, super-strength, and inflatable thighs that grow to widths thicker than her head), Dazzler feels the need to intervene.
A quick burst of light deals with the surrounding criminals, but She-Hulk isn't so much as fazed, and her standing orders are to smash up anything that attackers her "masters." Applying some commendable lateral thinking, Daz hoofs it until she finds a truck with the keys in the ignition, and starts is up, using the engine noise and the horn to charge herself to the point where even She-Hulk feels the resulting blast. Alison's previous victims choose this moment to come round and, seeing their emerald enforcer stunned on the ground, decide cowardice is the better part of criminal activity. Alas, their headlong flight from danger is rudely interrupted by the Blue Shield's knuckles - the would-be assassin back at the gig has spilt the beans.
While Cartelli honours his father's memory with indiscriminate violence, the She-Hulk recovers both her senses, and her mind. She thanks Dazzler for shaking her out of her enforced trance, and repays her with a terrifying joyride in a stolen truck. I guess she didn't recover all of her mind.
In addition to GTA and risk to life and limb, though, She-Hulk has some advice to offer, from one super-powered daughter-of-an-insufferable-prick to another: do what you need to do, and everyone else can go fuck themselves. It's slightly ill-fitting advice, considering Jennifer Walter s is still a lawyer, no matter how many rogues she cock-punches of an evening, but it's appreciated by Dazzler nonetheless.
And after She-Hulk drops Alison back at the auditorium, the singer finds something else she can appreciate; the management want her back next year as a headline act. Hurrah!
There's nothing here that ties us down. I guess one could ask how long it can have been if Ken is sending her flowers, but it might have taken him time to build up the nerve (he certainly didn't come across as a lady's man - I guess the whole "lawyer" thing doesn't really work for public defence attorneys). There's also no direct suggestion that Alison hasn't been living off of singing telegram gigs for a while.
We'll thus place this story a month further down the line, as part of the effort to get back in synch with UXM. Doing so puts this issue between UXM #150 and Annual #5, published six months earlier.
Friday 9th of March, 1983.
Joshua "Slippery Rock" Nkomo flees Zimbabwe after Mugabe unleashes his forces against Nkomo's Matabele homeland. Thousands of civilians are killed in Mugabe's attempt to crush Nkomo's party, the Zimbabwe African People's Union.
"THERE IS NO DEFENSE against your charms." D'aww! Lawyer chat-up lines are so adorable. The best statistics equivalent I can think of is "The data leads me to reject the hypothesis that you are not totally sexylicious!". This stuff is harder than it looks.