(The beautiful people.)
Out there, in the wilds of LA, where a man can walk for days without sight of unbottled water or a shelter from the buzzing swarms of the self-important, models are beginning to disappear in flashes of light, and what's stranger still, there's no obvious tawdry sexual element to the crimes. Where, we are asked, have all the models gone.
Elsewhere in the City of Angels, Alison Blaire has decided to become a model, because her remarkably extensive skill set is matched only by her disastrous sense of timing. Not that skills are particularly required here, by the way. Alison makes that very clear. Why, modelling is so easy she can do it whilst sat on a chair, photographing herself. Photography is easy too, you see. One might be tempted to point out a comic ostensibly more about domestic concerns than others in the Marvel Universe might want to make Dazzler's professional struggles about her own limitations and the general difficulties of life, rather than constant run-ins with murderers and kidnappers, but she does get to spend more time than usual in her underwear, so it's not like the mission statement of the book is entirely ignored.
(It also gives Alison a chance to create her own dark room, which she then bathes with wan red light using her power set, which is actually quite a nice idea; I'm not sure I'd ever have thought of that).
Sure enough, the agency Dazzler sends her amateur snaps to - which is run by Millie the Model, who clearly hasn't completely retired from the biz since the end of her astonishing twenty-eight year comic series a decade earlier - snap her up, and Alison finds herself awaiting an audience with Ms. The Model herself in the latter's offices. Also present: long-time adversary of Millie, Chili Storm (here misspelled as "Chilie", or perhaps she's simply changed her name in order to remain FRESH and WITH IT and NOW), who tries to scare Dazzler off. But nothing doing! If anything's going to scare Alison away, it'll be the mysterious disappearances of all those models, and she doesn't care about that at all! Even a bit! For some reason!
With her portfolio re-shot by someone who actually knows what they're doing (like that's in any way hard, apparently), Alison goes job-hunting, and by her fourth interview she's in a show, along with Janet, who came up with this idea for a career change in the first place. A few days later, they both get a chance to meet their new temporary boss, Doug Scruggs, the man behind the Scruggs/Huggs line the girls will model (one presumes these are not the sackcloth adult diapers the name evokes). Scruggs is grateful no-one is mentioning this, and still more grateful that Millie's provided such talent for his use, and not that of his arch nemesis Tom Devine.
An arch nemesis? Disappearing models? This is regular three-pipe problem and no mistake. Maybe it's that Chili Storm, our heroine thinks. Why else has she shown up to the show despite not having been hired? It certainly can't be because she's obviously kinda desperate. Besides, there's that suspicious business card dropped suspiciously close to where Storm is suspiciously standing!
"REVENGE INC", the card informs us imperiously. "YOU GET MAD... WE GET EVEN!" This is clearly not the sort of business Congressmen would be willing to refer to as "reputable". Indeed, it strikes one as being nothing more than a retread of the infamous Murder Inc., only with additional options tacked on for the faint of heart. Good thinking, Revenge Inc! Overspecialisation was what eventually did for The Mad Hatter. Well, that and Abe Reles.
There's no time for Alison to get on with her trademark brand of sleuthing (sulk self-pityingly, happen to overhear incriminating phone-call, win), though. The show must go on! And it does! For several seconds, anyway, at which point the models start dropping out of reality like flies that also drop out of reality (if only they all could, the shit-encrusted nightmare-buzzers). Dazzler has just enough time to grab ahold of Chili -who still won't take the hint and piss off, apparently - and accuse her of being responsible, when the two of them disappear as well.
Fortunately Dazzler reappears
They also get a visit from the mastermind of the entire operation: Tom Devine! Another example of what can only be inelegantly referred to as Chekov's C***. Devine's motivations are utterly barking even by comic book standards; he's horrified that his former protege Scrubbs is doing such massive business whilst he remains critically and commercially ignored, so he's decided to take all the money he somehow has despite being a failure and sink it into Revenge Inc., who have used the money to create a teleportation device which could make everyone involved into trillionaires, which they're using to steal every model Scrubbs hires (how Millie failed to make this connection goes unexplained), sure that without models to showcase his clothes, Scrubbs will be history. Devine can then step into the breach using the same models he kidnapped and confessed to who he's now clad in his own clothes, which are, according to the models, awful anyway.
Fucking hell, I love this book.
Unwilling to wait around for Devine's big reveal, Alison waits until their captor has departed, and then lasers the door to the cell open (pretending to have worked through the bolt with a nail file, which the assembled examples of alleged physical perfection let slide without much comment), and they overrun Devine's legitimately baffled staff, with the arch-architect of arch-misery himself being laid out by a punch from Chili, the kidnap victim of my kidnapper being my friend, as I think we can all agree. It's nice when these issues have a real moral message to impart.
The next day, Alison quits Millie's Models, having apparently decided not just that the best time to join something is during a spate of mysterious disappearances, but the best time to quit it is just after you've stopped the disappearances for good. Still, clearly being a model is a dangerous business. It's not like being a dancer almost got her buried alive, or being a singer almost got her killed in a plane crash.
But is Alison out of the woods yet? If there's one thing you can be pretty sure of, after all, it's that a company named Revenge Inc. isn't likely to respond to interference with a policy based on "forgive and forget"...
This issue starts during another of Alison's Thursday aerobics classes, and takes place over approximately three weeks.
Thursday 8th to Wednesday 28th March, 1984.
X+6Y+7 to X+6Y+27.
A Ulster Volunteer Force attack leaves Gerry Adams and three others seriously injured.
"But our clothes? They're not the same ones we were wearing when we vanished! Some of them are even polyester!!"
Once again, Dazzler faces a fate worse than death.