Sunday, 3 June 2012
DAZ #23: "Fire In The Night!"
Dazzler awakes to the smell of burning. Stepping over her sleeping half-sister, who's stayed the night after a late night/early morning of family bonding, she discovers the apartment building is on fire, and the alarm system has been sabotaged. Alison quickly turns on the radio - waking Lois in the process - and, absorbing the music, begins strobing out of the window until some cops notice the display and come to investigate. That's quite a nice use of her powers, actually, although the night-dress she's wearing is so scandalous I'm sure the police would have sauntered over in any case.
With the authorities warned (though they find the nearest police phone has also been sabotaged), Alison and Lois attempt escape. If seeing her big sister flashing at the police (sorry; couldn't resist) wasn't clue enough, seeing Dazzler use her laser beam to cut a path to safety for an elderly neighbour leaves Lois in no doubt: Alison is a mutant. Whether this would have been a problem under normal circumstances, we don't know, but Lois is sufficiently impressed with Dazzler's heroics for it not to bother her.
Alison has other things on her mind than social acceptance, though (not that it stops her getting somewhat over-defensive about her nature, but I suppose that's understandable). Not only has her loudmouthed landlord arrived to essentially tell everyone present he wished they'd all burned, she saw someone skulking in the shadows just after she discovered the fire, and she suspects foul play, possibly at the hands of the Sisterhood.
This might be true, though if it is, they're outsourcing their dirty work right now; the setter of the fire is a red-costumed man. Given the cover to this story, I'm going to go ahead and assume his name is Flame! Flame! is none too happy that "some woman" has ruined his plans, which rather suggests he's not involved with Rogue and co. That said, he's concluded Dazzler must die for her interference, so his affiliations probably aren't that important right now (indeed, the very next scene rules out the Sisterhood's involvement; Mystique just doesn't consider Dazzler enough of a threat to bother with).
The following day, Dazzler has herself another TV appearance, and so another round of rehearsals. Not long into the proceedings, though, Alison calls a halt. She has a business meeting to take care of, with Power Man and Iron Fist. Our heroine is sufficiently spooked over the fire the day before that she's willing to put the Heroes for Hire on retainer (using Osgood's money, naturally - though she does get a discount for being a "friend to the industry").
Despite it being based upon a false premise, this is clearly a prudent precaution, and a timely one as well, for no sooner have Luke and Danny accepted the job than the smell of smoke fills the air. Our boy Flame! is spectacularly unlucky; every time he sets a fire he turns out to have unaccounted superheroes gumming up the works. Alternatively, he might just be deeply stupid, a diagnosis which would account for why a man hired to sneak around burning things would wear a bright red costume covered with flame patterns. Either way, Luke holds up the buckling ceiling whilst Danny punches a way clear for everyone, and the TV studio is emptied without injury.
Whilst we await Flame!'s next attack, our heroes attempt to squeeze in some leisure time. Lois goes shopping with her mother, only to faint in a rather suspicious way. LATENT MUTANT! is now flashing over her head, for anyone paying attention. Angel, meanwhile, is in a skeezy coffee shop, nursing an espresso and trying not to freak about three women possibly wanting to attack him. Some X-Man; he's so petrified he can hardly work the jukebox. Or the cash machine. Or the science station on the Enterprise-A. I'm not really sure what's going on, if I'm honest. Danny and Luke, for their part, start trying to piece together what exactly is actually going on, and quickly come to the fairly obvious conclusion: why would the Sisterhood hire someone to do their dirty work for them, and why would they pick such a proven numpty for the gig?
Our heroine, meanwhile, is over at lover Ken's, but finds she has no appetite, and no desire to risk his life in another arson attack. Offering him a goodbye hug (man, Ken is really not doing well in this relationship; he's basically three parts chef to two parts puppy dog, Alison heads over to Crowley's, her landlord, hoping he has a hidey-hole somewhere she can rent for presumably exorbitant prices.
Except: TWIST! When she gets there, she finds the guy talking with Flame!, demanding to know why he's gone off-mission trying to kill Alison, instead of just burning down the apartment building to allow Crowley to pocket the insurance money. Flame! catches Dazzler snooping, and resolves to kill her, despite Crowley's objection, labelling his erstwhile employer a hypocrite and a coward.
Flame! drives our heroine on his muffled motorbike to a warehouse he's been paid to burn down that evening, planning to leave her inside to, well, DIAF. Whilst he starts dousing the place with gasoline, however, the tied-up Dazzler manages to roll her way over to his bike, kick-start it, and knock away the muffler, all with her legs. The resultant noise allows her to charge up sufficiently to obliterate her bonds, and she has her magnetic skates on (once again underneath high heels, which I continue to maintain is ridiculous even in this context). Hearing the noise, Flame! returns, and it becomes a battle between his fireballs and flamethrowers (that costume may be gaudy, but it's certainly got some nice features) and Alison's lasers and dazzle blasts.
Flame streams have to be aimed, and lightshows don't, so Dazzler quickly wins the energy-off. Even Flame! producing a flame-sword (!) doesn't help him, as Dazzler out-duels him with a laser blade (!!?WTF!?!). It may be somewhat closer to a literal Pyrrhic victory than she might like, however; the battle has left the building already aflame. Fortunately, Power Man and Iron Fist arrive on the scene, having figured Crowley was their prime suspect and put the screws on him. They save Dazzler from the conflagration, and point out that she's now safe from harm.
Alison, however, is far from convinced. And on this occasion, her intuition isn't failing her. Against Mystique's wishes, Rogue is preparing to go, er, rogue, and take out Dazzler alone...
This issue begins the morning after last issue ended with Lois' arrival, and takes place over three days. Warren mentions that Professor Xavier is too dispirited to be much use to him right now, referring to the apparent deaths of the X-Men, but we already dealt with this when considering DAZ #22.
X+5Y+95 to X+5Y+97.
Li Xiannian becomes President of the People's Republic of China.
Margaret Thatcher's Conservatives win re-election in a landslide.
"You're a mutant, aren't you -- like the X-Men or something?"
"Yes, Lois, I am. Now are you going to call me a freak?"
List of people who desperately need to get over themselves: Alison Blaire.