Women’s History Month: The Secret History of Dazzler

 

My first introduction to Dazzler was while playing the incredible X-Men Arcade game by Konami. For those of you young bucks who don’t know, there was this magical place called an Arcade where you go and play exclusive games by putting coins into machines. Yea, yea I’m old. Anyways, X-Men were at the peak of their popularity. They were everywhere. From cartoons to cereal to toys, the X-Men in the 90s were what the Avengers are today. So of course their video games were just as popular. The game let you choose from all the great X-Men. From Wolverine, to Cyclops (no Cyclops slander please), to Storm, Colossus, Nightcrawler and a white girl with an 80s headband. Wait, what?

“WHO THE HECK IS THIS?!?” 8-year-old me yelled in the arcade, puzzled at who this person was. As it turned out, it was Dazzler. A character Marvel basically crammed into as much stuff as they could from her creation in the late 70s to the 90s. We all know Dazzler, former disco queen, singer, songwriter and mutant with the power to convert sounds into light beams. But did you also know that she was originally supposed to be black?

You see back in the late 70s there was this band called KISS…yes THAT KISS. They’ve been around for that long. Anyways their look and appeal were so popular that Marvel made comic specials about them. These comics sold like hotcakes and were a great form of cross promotion for the album as well. So KISS’ label, Casablanca Records, concocted this idea to do something similar again but with a woman. The idea was for Marvel to create the character, background, history, etc. and Casablanca Records would supply the artist. The two companies would then work with a film company to produce films and soundtracks for the character and make loads of money.

The original concept of Dazzler was that she was a Disco Queen. Casablanca records requested to make her a mutant because X-Men were the hottest comic out at the time. She also had a completely different power, with the ability to make people tell the truth when she sings. John Romita Jr. was tasked to create the look for the character. He decided to base her off the singer, model and actress Grace Jones.

 

Unfortunately for some reason Casablanca Records and Filmworks(the movie company that were supposed to make the film based on Dazzler) wanted to promote an artist that they already had on the label, Bo Derek. Why this decision was made, I don’t know. But I have my theories…

So Dazzler was changed to look more like Bo Derek(see: white). They gave her long, flowy hair and face paint like KISS. But Casablanca wasn’t finished. They wanted even more changed to the character. They wanted her to tie in not just with X-Men, but Spider-Man, Fantastic Four, Hulk, everybody. Every pitch Marvel made to Casablanca about Dazzler was rejected so many times that they had to consistently cancel the book that they were supposed to be promoting. This eventually led to Casablanca records backing out of the deal.

Now Marvel is stuck with a highly publicized character whose whole purpose was to be seen on TV and heard on the radio but with no film or music company to adapt her. Never one to give up, Marvel put a series out for her anyways. They still wanted to pitch the idea to record companies and film studios, but it never happened. And now Dazzler is just a side character, rarely showing up in X-Books.

While it sucks that Grace Jones never got the part it seems like a bullet was dodged. Both companies couldn’t conclude how they wanted to use the character, and she remained in mediocrity for years to come. I would still like to see a show of her, being in a traveling band or something. She could have been big, but the creators weren’t trying to hear her sing.

You are now in the presence of The Mighty Hands of Khonshu aka The Fist of the NorCal aka Infinity Knuckles aka Vibranium Clippers aka Terrigen Haze aka Vishanti Slippers aka Latverian Lamborghini aka Adamantium Triceps aka The New Comic Book Daywalker aka Unstable Molecule aka Beats by Pym aka Foster Child of the Atom aka Triple XXX-Gene aka the Walking, Talking Red 100 Emoji. Stop putting pineapple on a pizza.

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You are now in the presence of The Mighty Hands of Khonshu aka The Fist of the NorCal aka Infinity Knuckles aka Vibranium Clippers aka Terrigen Haze aka Vishanti Slippers aka Latverian Lamborghini aka Adamantium Triceps aka The New Comic Book Daywalker aka Unstable Molecule aka Beats by Pym aka Foster Child of the Atom aka Triple XXX-Gene aka the Walking, Talking Red 100 Emoji. Stop putting pineapple on a pizza.

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