A mutant with the ability to convert sound vibrations into light and energy beams, Dazzler was originally developed as a cross-promotional, multi-media creation between Casablanca Records, Filmworks, and Marvel Comics until the tie-ins were dropped in 1980. The character was created by a committee of Marvel staff, principally writer/editor Tom DeFalco and illustrator John Romita, Jr.
Despite the fact that Dazzler was originally commissioned as a disco singer, the character shifted to other musical genres, including rock and adult contemporary. She starred in a self-titled solo series in the early 1980s, and later joined the cast of the X-Men. She was briefly a member of the spin-off group Excalibur but now has re-joined the X-Men.
Dazzler was originally a project commissioned by Casablanca Records in the mid-late 1970s, to be a cross-promotion in the mold of KISS, who had two successful comic book tie-in super-specials by the end of 1977. Marvel Comics would develop a singing superheroine, while Casablanca would produce a singer. The two companies would then work with Filmworks and produce a tie-in motion picture; Marvel Comics Editor-in-Chief Jim Shooter wrote a treatment for the project.
The character was originally conceptualized as "The Disco Queen" with the power to make people tell the truth. Initially, no one wanted anything to do with the project. Marvel Comics appointed former Archie Comics writer Tom DeFalco to the character and he developed some changes to the character, namely suggesting light-based powers. Roger Stern conceived of the character's name, Dazzler, while John Romita, Jr. provided pencils.
Artist John Romita, Jr. originally intended for the character to resemble model, actress, and singer Grace Jones, as seen in early depictions. However, representatives from Filmworks -- wanting to promote model and actress Bo Derek -- insisted on design changes to reflect Derek's features.
To promote Dazzler, Casablanca wanted it cross-promoted within several key Marvel Comics titles: The X-Men, The Fantastic Four, and Spider-Man in particular, with Dazzler debuting in The Uncanny X-Men because she was a mutant character. However, Casablanca continued to request conceptual changes to the character's appearance and personality, leading to several cancellations of the project. Eventually, Casablanca Records backed out of the Dazzler project altogether due to financial concerns. Marvel Comics, left with a much-publicized new character, decided to launch the project as a monthly series.
According to writer Tom DeFalco, Dazzler was canceled "five or six times" prior to its launch in March 1981. At the time, Marvel Comics was looking for other filmmakers to invest in a Dazzler cross-promotion. However, Jim Shooter and Stan Lee decided to launch the series without such a partnership because of their "faith in the character."
By this time, Dazzler #1 was edited to reflect changes in the Marvel Comics universe and to fit the new 22-page publication format. X-Men member Cyclops was edited out of the issue, and Kitty Pryde inserted, and an additional "origin of the Dazzler" sequence was added to fill new pages. Also, Dazzler distanced its character from the disco genre, as the creators recognized the disco fad was fading by 1980.
In a revolutionary move, Shooter decided to release Dazzler #1 exclusively to comic specialty shops, bypassing the wider circulation market. This was the first comic exclusively delivered to comic shops - a relatively new industry for 1981. Over 400,000 copies of issue 1 were pre-sold, more than double the average comic sales amount.
The series, however, was not free from critique. Several readers disapproved of the "real life" focus of Dazzler, including the focus on "soft plots" — career , family, relationships — rather than action-based and more traditional superhero plot devices. Dazzler's "superhero" outfit was her performance outfit, which also serves as a major disconnect from the superhero staples of the day. Years later, DeFalco reflected on these criticisms as an inherent hypocrisy with the readership: on one hand, readers clamored for something "new", which was how Dazzler was conceived. Yet on the other, they wanted Dazzler to be a superheroine in the mold of Phoenix and conform to other superheroic stereotypes.
John Romita, Jr. left Dazzler in issue #3, and was replaced by Frank Springer, who penciled most of the Dazzler series. DeFalco stayed on as chief writer through issue #6, and helped successive writer Danny Fingeroth with several of the following issues. Fingeroth and Springer remained the Dazzler stable team through issue #27.
Eventually, Dazzler failed to adequately create its own cast and began to lose commercial appeal. With issue #25, Dazzler became a bi-monthly publication. This schedule, along with extreme character changes and a lackluster spin-off miniseries, further complicated the character and series’ appeal to both existing and new readers. Springer changed Dazzler from a singer in New York to an aspiring actress in Los Angeles. To promote this new direction, Marvel had artist Bill Sienkiewicz do painted artwork pieces for several Dazzler covers, from issues #27 through #35. Springer left Dazzler with issue #32, and returned briefly for issue #35 and the Dazzler: The Movie graphic novel.
Marvel attempted to jump-start the series with a tie-in graphic novel and miniseries that would highlight the character's career struggles in a prejudiced world. While the graphic novel received acclaim, the miniseries and regular Dazzler series suffered.
In a final attempt, Archie Goodwin and Paul Chadwick were assigned to Dazzler with issue #38, ditching the singer-subtext and making Dazzler more of a generic superheroine with an official costume. It did not save the series, and Dazzler was eventually canceled in 1985. After that she was briefly considered as a possible X-Factor founding member, but the decision to resurrect Jean Grey put that idea aside.
After this, the character would go on to a notable run as an X-Men member, before disappearing completely for much of the 1990s and early 2000s, barring occasional cameos. With the launch of New Excalibur, she returned to monthly publication for the first time as a prominent cast member in over fifteen years.
Using the stage name "Dazzler", Alison sets out to make a name for herself in the music industry, using her light powers and dancing ability to enhance her performances. It is at one of her shows that Alison first meets the X-Men, who are fighting the forces of the Hellfire Club at the time. Alison aids the X-Men this time, but refuses their offer to join the team.
Dazzler hides her status as a mutant from all but those closest to her. After acquainting herself with the various Marvel Comics superheroes, Alison finds herself continually using her abilities to fight both ordinary criminals and rogue superhumans — often at the expense of her career ambitions. On one occasion, she meets Spider-Man, and teams with him against the Lightmaster. She later battles the Enchantress,, is overwhelmed by Doctor Doom, and then fights off Nightmare. She briefly allies with the Blue Shield, and aids the X-Men and Spider-Woman against the misguided Caliban. On another occasion, she battles the Hulk and establishes a long standing feud with the then-mentally unstable Rogue.
In the course of her inadvertant adventures, she even encounters the planet-devouring Galactus, who initially thinks she is of little notice and generally ignores her. Nevertheless, he temporarily endows her with cosmic energy so she can retrieve his herald Terrax for him. In addition to being offered membership into the X-Men, Alison is also asked to audition for a place in the Avengers. She declines while facing Fabian Stankowicz (who is ultimately easily defeated by the Wasp), saying that the superhero "trip wasn't for [her]."
After moving to Los Angeles, Alison attempts careers in fitness training, dancing, modeling, and acting. Influenced both by her lover, Roman Nekoboh, and her desire to abate the growing anti-mutant sentiment, Alison publicly declares her mutant identity. The revelation backfires, destroying her reputation and career and inflaming anti-mutant sentiment, which sends Alison into a depressive state. Forced again into hiding, she spends some time as a keyboard player in rock singer and fellow mutant Lila Cheney's band. While on tour, the band's plane crashes, which leads to Dazzler, Lila, and a bandmate being successfully rescued by Cannonball and his brother, Joshua. Lila has been knocked out so Dazzler uses the music Joshua plays at the scene to blast a hole through the wreckage. Alison is later possessed by the psychic mutant Malice. She is saved and taken in by the X-Men, becoming a member of the team.
During her tenure with the X-Men, Dazzler receives training, attains greater control over her powers, and develops a romance with the extra-dimensional Longshot. She is also forced to work alongside the now-reformed Rogue. Despite considerable tension between them at first, due to Alison's difficulty getting over Rogue's attempts to kill her in the past, over time she eventually believes Rogue is genuinely remorseful and forgives her. Dazzler struggles with her career ambitions and personal insecurities, and eventually she and her team-mates in the X-Men enter the mystical Siege Perilous, which leaves her in an amnesiac state. Discovered washed up on a beach by her former bodyguard Strong Guy, she is nursed back to health by him and Lila Cheney, though their efforts prove unsuccessful in helping restore her memory. It is eventually restored when she is found by Longshot. Devastated by the loss of her career, Alison ventures to Longshot's native "Mojoworld", and remains there to help fight in the ongoing rebellion against the tyrant Mojo along with Lila Cheney.
Dazzler eventually returns to Earth without Longshot after an unfortunate series of events, including miscarriage and war. She helps Jean Grey in the fight against a repowered Magneto, who is backed by an army of Genoshans. She and Jean lead a small band of mutants to back up the original X-Men, who are in Genosha already. Dazzler faces down Magneto who turns her powers against her and incinerates her. As he arrogantly boasts about his triumph, Dazzler reveals herself to be alive and well. She and Jean had concocted a plan for Alison to generate a hard-light hologram of herself to distract Magneto who was then killed by Wolverine. After the conclusion of this incident, the X-Men offer Alison support for her personal problems, but she declines.
Dazzler, however, prefers utilizing the sound of music, particularly that which is rhythmically sustained. Not only is music more pleasant to her ears, but the steady beat of contemporary popular provides a more constant source of sound to convert. The precise means by which this conversion process works is as yet unknown, but it must involve a body-wide energy field that controls the energy levels of the outer electron shells of her body in such a way as to cause the cascaded release of photons.
The field thus operates in a similar fashion as the process that creates a laser (Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation) and apparently has the same efficiency as a laser (99.9 percent). The released energy is far greater than the incoming kinetic energy and therefore must involve another, unknown energy source as well. Left undirected, Dazzler's light will radiate from her body in all directions, producing regular flashes of white light (white light is a mixture of all portions of the visible spectrum). By conscious control over the light she produces, she can control its direction, frequency (color), amplitude (intensity), and duration.
Apparently, Dazzler must consciously or subconsciously will the light to leave her body. Otherwise, light would "leak" from her at all times, even when she was asleep or unconscious. Dazzler can produce numerous effects with the light she converts from sonic vibrations. She can simply cause a bright glow all about her body. She can create very simple patterns out of rays of light like circles, squares, triangles, and stars, or even certain combinations of patterns which produce trance-like effects in her targets. She can also make a shrouding fog consisting of pure light. With effort, she can even create holograms of human beings and other three-dimensional beings and objects. She can create a pulse of light on the order of several thousand watts of power, which temporarily blinds people with its brilliance. She can create a chaotic cascade of sparkling lights and colors that severely upsets other people's equilibrium, or a pulsating strobe-light effect. By concentrating, Dazzler can generate a coherent beam of light, approximating a laser beam, with which she can cut through virtually anything.
Her training with the X-Men, especially with Cyclops, has taught her how to produce such laser-like beams with much less effort than it previously required of her. She generally directs the laser from a single finger when she requires precision in its use, since pointing aids her in defining its direction. However, she can also direct laser blasts from both hands at once when she wishes, as well as from her eyes, for example, to demolish a large structure. She most often uses her hands for directing her light effects, but she could also use other parts of her body.
Since studying with the X-Men, she has become adept at directing her blinding strobe light blast from her eyes. Dazzler has also learned how to create a protective force field about herself with laser light that can deflect or vaporize oncoming projectiles. The most powerful manifestation of her abilities is a concentrated beam of solid photons she usually fires from her right index finger. The beam is extremely powerful and as a consequence uses a great deal of her energy reserves. She has since learned how to produce these blasts without draining herself, while still providing them with considerable power. She has also recently shown the ability to form her photon emissions into solid constructs, such as swords and staffs. Dazzler's potential to convert sound to light is unlimited. Curiously, she cannot use her own unamplified voice as a source of sound for her transduction abilities. Dazzler's body, especially her eyes, shields itself against any injurious effects of her light transducing abilities and against those of bright lights in general. Her ability to transduce sound also protects her from being deafened by loud noises.
Since the events of Dazzler: The Movie, Alison's body can store light energy for future discharge on occasional instances of extreme duress.
She has been shown to create a "null space" of sound in a certain radius of her person, as a result of "pulling" the sound in her area to her person, to either protect a crowd of people as in "Dazzler: The Movie" or to supercharge her power reserves
Dazzler is a highly skilled athlete, and has become a good hand-to-hand combatant thanks to her training with the X-Men, and with the Gladiators. In addition, she is a talented singer, actress, and dancer. She is also a highly accomplished roller skater and can move at high speed; she occasionally wears a pair of roller blades which magnetically adheres to her boots.
Thanks to Professor X, Dazzler's costume contains devices that enable her to store sonic energy more efficiently and to gauge and focus the light she generates with greater skill. She formerly carried a customized radio/cassette tape player to provide her with sound until she acquired the sound storing devices in her costume. She occasionally wears a pair of roller blades which magnetically adheres to her boots; she can use the skates to move at high speed.
Dazzler was one of only a few characters involved in the original Age of Apocalypse to be brought back for the Age of Apocalypse 10th Anniversary miniseries. Like many of the other X-Men, Dazzler's costume in the 10th anniversary reflects an updated take on her original costume: the silver jumpsuit. Against the battle with Mr. Sinister's Sinister Six, Dazzler was swallowed within Cloak's dark dimension, but is ultimately saved by a lightning bolt from Storm which forces Cloak to spit her back out.
The House of M newsprint special featured a tabloid-esque "blind" article, indicating that Alison's signature lightshow was fading due to a rare blood disorder, which was causing her to lose her mutation. Storm used Alison's popular talk show to sound off on her disapproval of Magneto's handling of mutant affairs and Mister Sinister was seen watching the Alison show when Deadpool went to rescue an infant Cable.
This series is the first since Dazzler's 1980 solo series to feature the character primarily as a Marvel Comics heroine, with greater links to superheroes such as the Avengers and Fantastic Four, rather than as an X-Men member.
Another zombified Dazzler is quite visible in the bottom left corner of the large center cell on page 13 of Issue #23 of Ultimate Fantastic Four -- part 3 of the three-part arc that introduced the "Marvel Zombies" Universe [the three part arc consisted of Ultimate Fantastic Four issues 21-23]. As noted, Dazzler was destroyed - disintegrated - by Doctor Doom in the "Marvel Zombies Vs. Army of Darkness" limited series and hence, never lived to become a zombie.
The Ultimate incarnation of Dazzler (Alison Blaire) is introduced as a punk rock singer in Ultimate X-Men #42. Alison briefly joins Emma Frost's Academy of Tomorrow when promised a record deal, but joins the X-Men after they rescue her from a Sentinel attack. There she is called "Dazzler", the name of her band. Alison often shows a lack of enthusiasm for the X-Men or their missions, but after learning of a proposed public execution of a mutant, she convinces a group of teammates to go on a rescue mission. When the mission goes astray and Angel is captured, Dazzler takes initiative and leads the team on a rescue mission. This leads to the accidental release of Longshot.
Later, she and Angel go out on a presumed 'date' (really an effort to get themselves involved with the X-Men's latest mission) preventing the Academy of Tomorrow students from attacking the Triskelion. During the incident, power is lost and one of the inmates, Deathstrike impales Dazzler through the chest. Ironically, Deathstrike is defeated by the very killer Dazzler has assisted before.
Dazzler stays in a coma for several weeks, visited many times by Nightcrawler who has an unrequited crush on her. Unfortunately, many factors have combined to unhinge Nightcrawler and as soon as she is able to be moved, he fools her into thinking they must escape. Initially trusting him, she cooperates until the rest of the X-Men rescue her.
The others, understanding Nightcrawler is mentally ill, plan to rehabilitate him. Dazzler does not accept this and quits the team in protest. She has since been labeled as one of the "most important" mutants to the X-Men's cause by the future Bishop.
Dazzler later joins Bishop's new team in Ultimate X-Men #82. Bishop dies in Ultimate X-Men #90, and since then Dazzler has returned to the Xavier Institute to be with Angel and on Xavier's X-Men team once again. She is seen to be on Colossus' enhanced team, seemingly with the ability to generate solid light spider legs and constructs and later faces off against Wolverine with hard-light versions of his claws.
Dazzler's powers allow her to convert sonic vibrations into various forms of photovoltaic energy, including concussive photon pulses, laser beams, hard light holographic illusions, destructive force fields, light fog, hypnotic bursts of light, and levitation. Her photon pulses have been shown as strong enough to destroy several Sentinels at once.