Axel-In-Charge: Waid & Samnee on "Black Widow" and the Dawn of the All-New, All-Different Era
Every day this year, I will be examining the first pages of random comics. As it’s now December, I will be examining the LAST pages of random comics, so watch out for SPOILERS! Today’s page is from Dazzler #35, which was published by Marvel and is cover dated January 1985. Enjoy!
Obviously, as I’m going to do the final pages of comics for December’s theme, I can’t really write about how the writer and artist gets people into the comic, but I guess I can write about how they get us out of the comic! So let’s check out this classic from a classic comic book series, Dazzler!
Jim Shooter wrote this issue, and obviously, this is the aftermath of a big fight. Ali and Barb, both waitresses at an women-only bar (which, given that it’s 1985 Marvel, doesn’t mean anything more than that, although Shooter isn’t afraid of subtext!), have gotten into a fight with a roller derby team (because why not?) because the group was looking for a fight and kept picking on Barb until Ali told them to shut the fuck up. Ali, of course, wipes the floor with the entire team, which is where we come in. Alison gives Barb a nice life lesson about not being what other people want her to be, and then Ali walks away like Caine in Kung Fu. As this is an era of “compression,” Shooter doesn’t feel the need to make this a multi-issue arc – it’s one and done, baby!
There are a couple of interesting mistakes in the artwork. Frank Springer and Vince Colletta penciled and inked this, and we’ll get back to how Springer designs the page, but for now, notice that Ali somehow loses her fishnet stockings in the final panel. That’s pretty impressive. Petra Scotese colors Barb’s outfit green in Panel 1 when it’s been yellow throughout – this is an error that occurred quite a bit before the advent of digital coloring, and I don’t know if it’s Scotese’s fault or if it gets screwed up down the line in the production of the issue. Then, in Panel 2, someone – letterer Janice Chiang, perhaps – puts the word balloon in the wrong place. Ali is conversing with the woman lying on the ground, but the word balloon leads to Barb, and it’s a bit confusing the first time you read it.
Springer begins the page with the aftermath of the fight, and it’s not bad – Ali is the first person we see, and her look and word balloon lead us over the carnage to Barb, who answers her. Despite the problems with the lettering, Panel 2 is fine, too – in fact, every panel on this page lead us nicely from left to right – Barb and Ali are moving that way in Panel 3, Barb is looking toward Ali in Panel 4, Ali is looking to the right in Panel 5, Ali’s height helps angle us downward to Barb and then to the right in Panel 6, and finally, Barb looks toward the right as Ali leaves the bar. It’s a well designed page, especially the final image of Ali striding away. Obviously, Springer is very old-fashioned, even in 1985, but he knew how to lay out a page. Our eyes flow easily over this page, and it’s a good image to end the issue with.
Dazzler isn’t a great comic by any means, but that doesn’t mean it’s not ahead of its time. It’s stunning how modern it is, even today. Marvel has released the series in Essential form. I think an Omnibus or two would do it justice!!!!
Next: An amazing series, but not that amazing a last page. That can happen, you know! You might want to check out the archives before they’re all done!
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