Saturday, 21 April 2012

DAZ #20: "Out Of The Past!"

(Intolerable cruelty.)


Ah.  The old dream sequence opening.  Better than a dream sequence ending, obviously, especially when there's no doubt regarding what we're watching.  Today, we start off inside the subconscious of Carter Blaire, who is still catatonic over his daughter's "betrayal" (which isn't surprising, since this is the same day we last saw him).  From his mad ravings (he keeps dreaming Alison is trying to kill him), his psychiatrist has worked out who the proximate cause is, but they can't get ahold of her.  Not that it might matter, laments grandmother Bella; "they're both so full of pride."  Which, respectfully, is not the problem here.  The problem is that Carter is full of being a dick, and Alison is full of not liking people who are full of being a dick.

(Well, she's 95% full of that.  The remaining 5% is kleptomania.)

It's all too much for poor old Bella, but fortunately she's drawing support from a very uncomfortable-looking Warren Worthington.  He got into this to boink a hot blonde, not cuddle an old biddy!  It's so awful when that happens...

Dazzler herself is en route to a lunch at her bassist Hunch's pad, and has decided to walk there to burn off some of the damage inflicted by her breakfast with Vanessa.  More damage could be on the way, though, when she's jumped by a mugger who steals her mother's brooch.  Incensed, she blasts him and grabs the brooch back, only to realise her assailant is only about fifteen years old.  This then leads to another in the endless wearying series of self-absorbed Dazzler freak-outs, in which she histrionically swears to never use her powers again off-stage for any reason ever.  Can we guess what's coming, here?  We probably can, because this is like the seventeenth time she's done something similar.  For fuck's sake, lady.  You didn't just blast a teenager; you blasted a teenage mugger who told you you were lucky he didn't kill you.  He chose you as a victim because he thought you were powerless, and the great plan now is to make sure the next punk is right?  Gods, but I'm learning to hate you.

One comparatively unobjectionable part of all this, the tussle has caused the locket to finally open.  There are two pictures inside.  One is of Alison's father, the other is of an unknown man.  Dun dun duh!
Over at Magic Barbara's Singing Shack (not its real name), Fingeroth is doing some desperate back-peddling.  Vanessa's final line at the end of last issue after blundering in to the wrong room was "No!  It can't be!".  Her first words here?  "Oh my.  This certainly isn't the kitchen".  Indeed not.  It's a spare room crammed floor to ceiling with Dazzler memorabilia.  Which, as we know from the adventures of Alan Partridge, isn't necessarily something to be taken lightly, but "It can't be!" is about eight orders of magnitude too strong, particularly when you've used it to sell a cliffhanger (immediate thought, though: Barbara is clearly Alison's mother).  For shame, Fingeroth.  For shame!  Before Vanessa has the chance to consider her wildly inappropriate reactions to being in the wrong room, Barbara arrives, and angrily shoos her back to work.

By this point, Dazzler has arrived at the lunch party, but there's not much time for her to relax.  She's no sooner headed for the telephone in the back room (to see if Harry's found her anything to do yet) when the front door is blasted open, and in walk: Doctor Sax and Johnny Guitar.

And man, are they disappointing.  When their name was teased at the end of DAZ #19, I was hoping it would actually be Ben Grimm and Johnny Storm, seen playing a sax and a guitar respectively at the start of DAZ #18.  That would at least have been amusing.  Instead, these two guys are totally different characters, who happen to share half of the same names and all of the same instruments, and are supervillains that we're actually expected to take seriously, or something.


Fuck, quite frankly, that.

Apparently Hunch, Marx and Beefer used to tour with these goobers, until they caught the two of them trying to rob the owner of a club they played.  In the resulting struggle, Doctor Sax (then Jack DuLoui) got his eyes burned out with his own acetylene torch whilst trying to do the same to Beefer, and the pair of them were arrested. 

Now their out of jail, and looking for revenge, having been to see Techmaster and acquired a few upgrades (not sure what they had to offer Techmaster, unless his promise to not bother Osgood again doesn't prevent him helping to murder the guy's acts).  Johnny's guitar now includes some kind of sonic cannon that can shake apart whatever he, er, plays at, and Doctor Sax -  in addition to having a Daredevil-style radar sense courtesy of his bizarre eyewear, owns a woodwind can instantly invoke whatever emotion he desires in the listener, like a jazzed-up Angelo Badalamenti:

Alison can hear all this going on from her hiding place in the back room.  But will she do anything about it?  Sure, her friends (and Hunch's wife and child) might all be about to be messily executed, but on the other hand: she made a pledge to herself!

Just stop it now, please.  This is worse than the earlier solipsistic fretting ("Self-disgust is self-obsession", as the Manics once told us), this is self-absorption with a proposed body-count.  This is weighing up whether an idiotic promise to oneself should count more than the life of four adults and a child.  To say this makes Dazzler seem unsympathetic is an understatement: it makes her seem unempathic to the point of sociopathy.

While Dazzler tries to remember if there is anyone in the world apart from herself, and the two villains arrange their captives for the most ergonomic execution possible, Barbara is apologising to Vanessa for freaking out.  She explains that her daughter, now at college, is a massive Dazzler fan.  The artwork shows us the daughter's photo, but not that of the father -  Barbara's ex-husband - standing next to her.  Alarm bells are ringing loudly, now.  As annoyed as I am that Alison's obvious lapse of logic a few issues back (assuming there could only be one Katherine in a house, and that the SF phone book lists children) didn't turn out to be significant (significantly lame, though, amirite?), it looks like the mystery is very much solved.

Back at Hunch's apartment, Johnny and Jack are just about ready to murder their captives, but Jack decides there's just enough time left for him to use his saxophone to torture Hunch's baby boy.  This, at last, has crossed a line: Alison might let a baby get murdered, but tortured then murdered?  Not on her watch!  Slapping on her magnetic skates (onto her high heels, I swear to God), Dazzler makes short work of two characters who's powers are based entirely on sound.  Her newly-rescued friends are surprisingly grateful, considering they now know she's a mutant who could have saved them at any moment, rather than waiting for a baby to start screaming in pain.

Still, I suppose they don't have too long to consider all this.  Angel arrives moments after the battle (having tracked her down via a very surprised and none-to-pleased Ken) to let her know that her Dad is in a bad way.  Whilst Warren flies her back home, we check in one last time at Barbara's place, where she breaks down in tears and admits to Vanessa that she is, indeed, Dazzler's mother.  The girl in the photograph is actually Alison's half-sister, and the man stood beside her... is the same guy opposite Carter Blaire inside the locket Alison wears!

Oooooh! 'Scitin!  Will Dazzler finally learn the truth next issue?  Or will she blow it all by pledging to herself that she won't talk to music teachers ever again, or something?


This issue picks up just before the last one finished, and takes place over the course of Vanessa's singing lesson, which presumably means two hours have passed at the most.


Sunday 3rd of April, 1983.



Contemporary Events

The 20th Anniversary Doctor Who Celebration is held at Longleat House.  There's some great pictures of the event over here.

Standout Line

"Hunch, he looks more like you every day."
"Too bad - I was hopin' he'd be good-looking."  

I guess the old ones really are the best sometimes.  Especially when they're the only part of this whole issue that isn't completely ridiculous and/or insufferably unpleasant.

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