Within the pages of Marvel Comics, the mutant known as Dazzler has her own history or stardom. But the former singer/former X-Man also known as Alison Blaire hasn't faired as well on the solo character scale in real life. Though she debuted in the '70s with her own disco-themed ongoing series, Dazzler has never been the A-lister she plays on stage. But Marvel is looking to change that -- with a little help from S.H.I.E.L.D.
Revealed at the end of this week's "Uncanny X-Men" #6 and set to be a major factor in the book's story moving forward, Dazzler has been tapped by the superspy agency to keep S.H.I.E.L.D. abreast of mutant activity -- including the plans of rogue X-Men leader Cyclops.
"Dazzler's decision to accept Maria's offer stems directly from what happened to her in 'X-Treme X-Men,'" Senior Editor Nick Lowe told CBR, tying writer Brian Michael Bendis' choice to tap her for "Uncanny" to Greg Pak's recently wrapped series. "She went through all kinds of hell in that book, led a team (and did a pretty good job) and got spit out of the other side not really knowing what to do next. She wanted change and that's what Brian and Co. are giving her."
Of course, at the heart of the character's "X-Treme" run was set in motion in part by Cyclops, and now that she's done with her multiversal adventures, she's seeing him in a new light. "I think the experience made her not want to fall into old habits," Lowe explained. "We're going to see a lot more of what Alison thinks of Cyclops in 'Uncanny X-Men' #9 especially, but if her previous view of Scott was 'I trust that he knows what he was doing' being a leader and not knowing what SHE was doing changed her POV on Scott and leaders in general."
Placing Dazzler in a high profile role in a high profile comic and with a high profile team like S.H.I.E.L.D. serves Marvel in a few ways. At a basic level, it helps elevate the character to a place she hasn't been in years but one that Lowe feels she deserves. "She's an experienced hero, which I think people misrepresent a lot," he said. "Yes, she was a pop star and is often played for laughs, but she was an X-Man for a long time and has seen and done A LOT in her time. Second, as you'll see, there's a certain amount of outreach involved in her role with S.H.I.E.L.D., so it helps that the world knows her in a non-threatening capacity."
Beyond those in-story considerations, tying the former solo star to one of the most recognizable parts of the Marvel Universe helps prepare Dazzler for more solo adventures, should fans want them. "If we got to do a Dazzler series out of this I'd be over the moon. It's always the goal," the editor said, noting, "I see her as an X-Man, first and foremost. Maybe that's just because Chris Claremont and his co-creators on a lot of those awesome Dazzler stories defined her best for me."
Moving forward, Dazzler isn't the only character getting a facelift in "Uncanny." From Magneto's increasing paranoia and militarization to the powering up of the Stepford Cuckoo's rarely-seen diamond forms, Bendis has plans for deepening X-Men's world in more ways than one. "Brian's kind of in love with the Cuckoos. He's got some great stuff planned for them," Lowe said. "Brian is having a great time activating his nerd brain and digging into the nitty gritty of the X-Men. You'll be seeing a lot more of this moving forward."
Of course, with tougher mutants and Dazzler's involvement in S.H.I.E.L.D., it may seem to many that the line is gearing up for the eponymous battle of the incoming "X-Men: Battle of the Atom" event. But don't look to Lowe for confirmations or denials on that score.
"You may think that," he said. "I couldn't possibly comment."