Favorite Fictional Characters, #283: Dazzler
The origins of Dazzler are so wonderfully representative of late-70s corporate bumbling and creative bankruptcy that it's amazing such a textured, worthwhile character eventually grew out of it. Marvel was working with the disco label Casablanca records in an effort to replicate the lightning in a bottle of Kiss, the glam band that enjoyed such successful comic-book crossover. This being the 1970s, the idea was that a disco singer would make a perfect super-heroine. After several false starts, Dazzler eventually hit the market in 1981, sufficiently past the brief prime of disco that it pretty much missed the mark entirely. Whoops. That said, Dazzler benefited from the appearances in her book of many popular Marvel personages, including Doctor Doom, the X-Men, Spider-Man, and many others. In fact, her early issues were a Grand Central Station of guest stars.
A mutant with the power to convert sound into light, Alison Blaire dreamed of being a rock star (the disco thing was rapidly locked in the basement and talked about only in hushed tones). She achieved that dream, too, becoming a well-known musical act. For a while she balanced the Taylor Swift lifestyle with battling super-villains, going toe-to-toe with Doom, Klaw, Rogue, even Galactus, and developing a bit of an arch-rivalry with the Enchantress. She never really embraced the super-hero biz, suffering from a persistent inferiority complex and frustrated by the fact that all she really wants to do is perform, not fight super-baddies. Eventually her mutant nature was exposed, destroying her career. This, to me, is when things started to get interesting. During the Mutant Massacre storyline in the X-Men books, Dazzler finally succumbs to destiny and becomes a member of the team, ditching the roller skates for a blue leotard. She learns to hone her powers, working alongside such grizzled mainstays as Wolverine and Storm. There's a fun subplot featuring her coming to terms with the redemption of her former enemy Rogue, and eventually the book has some fun with the emergence of the girl-power dynamic of Dazzler, Psylocke, Rogue, and Storm.
I think what I liked about Dazzler was that she never really wanted to be a costumed super-hero. She wanted to be a famous recording artist, but events forced her into other roles, and she struggled with a long time with the lack of agency in her own life. I think most of us can relate to that feeling of powerlessness, regardless of how powerful we might be.