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Dazzler # 9

Issue Date: November 1981

Story Title: The Sound and the Fury!

Staff: Danny Fingeroth (story), Frank Springer and Vince Coletta (art), C. Scheele (colors), Joe Rosen (letters), Jim Shooter (editor)
From an idea by Tom DeFalco

Brief Description:
Dazzler is kidnapped by scientists of the Project Pegasus and is transferred to their secret base in Mountain Athena. There, Alison is forced to participate in a series of tests centered on her mutant abilities to transduce sound into light. After a week, Dazzler is weary and wishes to leave, however she is legally bound to stay. After watching Klaw, one of the villainous inmates of the base, being seemingly tortured by scientists – merely a ruse on Klaw’s part to trick her into freeing him – Ali helps him escape. Klaw rampages through everything on his way out of the base and nearly kills Quasar, the security chief. Dazzler decides to save Quasar’s life and then confronts Klaw. Given that Klaw consists purely of sound, Alison accidentally absorbs him entirely, effectively unmaking him. Alison despairs. Undaunted, the scientists still wish to keep her in the base for further study. Disgusted, Alison blasts her way out of the base and collapses. Billions of light years away, a robot watches Alison from a monitor, deciding she is the one who will do its master’s bidding.

Full Synopsis:
A black limousine weaves its way through midtown Manhattan. Its passengers are two grim-faced men in suits and a very scared and confused Alison Blaire, sitting between them. Alison keeps thinking this is so weird. These guys kidnapped her in broad daylight – plus, they somehow know about her light powers, because they’re wearing special lenses to protect themselves from them. The men also carry guns but haven’t threatened Alison or tried to do her any harm. Dazzler wonders what’s going on.

Alison hesitantly asks them if they can, at least, tell her what this is all about. One of the men assures her she’ll find out soon enough. The man instructs the limo driver to continue on prescribed route 143R, incorporating modification X-23. Alison asks her other kidnapper, the bold man whose name is supposedly Mr. Meeker, whether they’ve been following her around for weeks. Meeker explains he attended several of her performances, as did hundreds of others. Dazzler retorts that those “hundreds of others” didn’t sneak into her rehearsal studio or shadow her in the streets. She should’ve trusted her instincts and call the police!

Meeker tells Alison she has misconstrued him: his intentions were strictly honorable. He also tells her they have arrived. Seeing the cloisters ahead, Alison wonders in amazement if they kidnapped her to take her to a museum. However, the limousine turns a corner and Alison sees an object definitely out of keeping with the cloister’s medieval setting: a jetcopter! As they all exit the limo, the other man informs Alison that she and Mr. Meeker will continue on this leg of the trip alone. Alison and Meeker enter the helicopter. Meeker politely asks Alison to put on her seat-belt. It would be a shame if she injured herself during their journey.

As the helicopter makes its way swiftly northward, Alison thinks that these guys aren’t normal thugs. They took her by surprise but she’s got to get herself together – do something! She thinks she could probably convert the noise from this chopper into enough light to dazzle Meeker even through his special lenses but then what? She doesn’t know to fly a helicopter! She’d better…

Suddenly, she sees they’re descending in the direction of a mountain below them. There’s some sort of city on top of it. However, they’re going so fact that Alison fears Meeker’s going to lose the city. In fact, she sees they’re heading straight into the side of the mountain! “Pull up, you idiot!” Alison screams. She realizes in horror they’re going to crash!

However, at the last instant, a door opens in the side of the mountain. The helicopter enters the passageway and Meeker completes a satin-smooth landing; the jetcopter’s wings and propellers fold neatly back and Dazzler finds that the flying vehicle they are in has adapted itself for travel along a strange, labyrinthine railway system. Several minutes later their journey ends as they are greeted by three men. One of the men notifies the others they’re here. Another one remarks they’re 7.2 seconds late.

Meeker tells Dazzler to get out of the helicopter. Seeing Ali boggled, one of the men assures her they will give her answers. He welcomes her to Mountain Athena, the home of Project Pegasus. He explains that Pegasus stands for Potential Energy Group / Alternate Sources / United States. They are a special research division of the U. S. Department of Energy. They’ve known about her mutant abilities to transform sound into light for some time now. They’d like to help her explore these abilities, their potentials, limits and so forth.

Indignant at them, Alison asks them why they couldn’t just have written her a letter! Did they have to go through all this subterfuge? Meeker politely reminds her that at no time did anyone threaten her with harm or force her to do something. Alison admits they didn’t – technically. Still, she insists that if they are such saints, they take her home now!

One of them tells Dazzler that it would be detrimental to her career if the fact she’s a mutant was leaked to the press. Alison argues that’s blackmail. The man insists they mean no harm. They simply want to investigate her powers. It’ll benefit Dazzler as much as them. Besides, regulations require them to pay her eight dollars a day! Alison assumes she has no choice.

Pleased to hear this, the man introduces her to the security chief, Wendell Vaughn – better known as Quasar. Quasar greets her with a smile. With Dazzler visibly impressed by the man’s handsomeness, one of the scientists of Project Pegasus reminds to his colleagues in a low voice what he told them: reason and logic are always iffy… but good looks can melt an iceberg!

Quasar admits to Alison he’s been anxious to meet her for a long time. He had read in Rolling Stone that she’s a great singer. He also informs her he has light-oriented powers, just like her. However, they can talk about that later. He’s been assigned to give her a tour of the project. He asks her if she’s ready to go. Ali thinks that despite his ridiculous outfit, Quasar’s cute. He makes Paul look like… a doctor.

Quasar and Dazzler get on the Loop – the project’s transit system. As the vehicle starts touring around the installation, Quasar acts as a guide for Alison. At first, he shows her the magnetic-gravitic research area. Alison is stunned to see some people floating in there. Next on, they pass by the Observatory. It’s is useful for discovering new planets and peeping through windows… in California! “Very funny, Quasar!” Alison replies. He urges her to call him Wendell.

Alison asks him what he meant when he told her that his powers are similar to hers. Quasar explains that, whereas she transforms sound into light, he absorbs energy from quasars – cosmic energy sources – and uses it as light, heat, or to even form solid objects. Impressed, Alison believes that surely outclasses her. Quasar argues they can decide that after the tests.

A little while later, Quasar explains he’s been saving this part of the tour for last. He’s aware she knows lots of super hero types, so he’d thought she’d find the Compound interesting. The Compound? Alison asks. Quasar explains it’s where they keep certain criminals with unusual energy-related abilities incarcerated, as a favor to the law-enforcement agencies and to aid their own research.

Getting off the Loop, Quasar and Dazzler walk along a line of cells that contain various super-villains. First, they get to see Solarr. Quasar explains he’s a human solar-energy generator. He warns Alison he’s a mean one: in the past he almost killed Captain America, the Avengers and even Quasar himself various times!

Next, they see a man contained in some sort of special cage. Quasar explains this is Nuklo. He’s not really a criminal. He’s just a mutant who possesses incredible radioactive energy and the mind of a two-year old child. Quasar explains that this energy-dampening “crib” is all that keeps from wrecking this place.

Finally, they stand outside the cell that contains one of their strangest and most dangerous inmates: Klaw, the murderous master of sound. He recently escaped but was recaptured by the Thing and the American Eagle. Klaw is actually composed of solid sound, that’s why they keep him in this soundproof vibranium-lined cell.

Suddenly, Quasar gets a call on his communicator and tells Alison to wait a bit. As he speaks with his superiors, Alison stares in fascination at the man called Klaw. Alison sees they’ve got a screen set up inside Klaw’s cell and another one outside, so that he can communicate with them without using sound. Klaw is gesturing for Alison to look at the screen. As she does, she reads a message he’s typing: DON’T TRUST THEM! SOON YOU’LL BE A PRISONER LIKE THE REST OF US!

Alison thinks that this place is creepy but surely they’re not going to lock her up like him… or would they? “No!” she tells herself. Klaw is a menace. She’s read about his crimes. But… Quasar interrupts her thoughts, telling her they’re ready for her in the lab. Alison hesitantly follows him while Klaw is pleased to see that the seed of doubt has been planted.

The various tests soon begin. Alison is connected with several wires. One of the scientists tells his colleague to increase sound level to factor sixteen. The machine operator is impressed to see she’s still absorbing the sound. Afterwards, Alison demonstrates laser penetration through six inches of concrete. Later, the scientists get to see how her light fog responds to an additional hundred decibels. On another occasion, Alison pushes herself to concentrate and broadcast her strobe over a greater area than ever before.

Meanwhile, in the shadow of the 59th Street Bridge, in Alison’s apartment, the phone rings almost incessantly. All those who care about Alison are concerned and puzzled by her absence; Dr. Paul Janson calls her yet again. He’s tried Alison during every break in this convention he attends but she’s never home. He misses her and hopes she’s okay. At Harry S. Osgood’s office, his secretary informs him there has still been no answer from Dazzler. Osgood thinks that Dazzler’s disappearance is wreaking havoc in her singing career. Alison’s grandmother, Bella, also calls her, worried since it isn’t like Alison to be out of touch for so long. Bella contemplates if she should tell her father. He’s disowned her since she defied his wishes and became a singer. Lastly, Human Torch also calls her since they were supposed to get together this week but she’s been totally unreachable. Johnny knows she’s a big girl but hopes she hasn’t gotten involved in something she can’t handle.

At Mt. Athena, staff scientists evaluate their reams of data while a weary Alison takes a much needed rest from her taxing ordeal. She hopes these guys hurry up and let her know what they’ve found out. This has all been sort of exciting but she has a life to get on with.

One of the scientists informs her they’ve discovered two major properties of her abilities which she should be aware of. First, there is no limit to the amount of sound energy her body can transduce into light. Secondly, they theorize that if a given sound is powerful enough, she can store its energy, even when the sound has stopped. What effect such storage would have on her is as yet unknown, but some further tests should…

“Further tests!!” Alison exclaims in fury. She tells him to forget it: she’s had enough tests this past week to last her whole life. As the scientist is about to blackmail her again, Alison urges them to go ahead and tell the world she’s a mutant. Who cares? Her life’s already a mess from all this mad scientist nonsense these guys have gotten her into!

The scientist presents her with a document she signed that pledges her to stay until the completion of all tests. Alison is surprised to hear that; all she ever signed was what they called “a standard registration form.” The scientist assures her this is a perfectly legal and binding document. Upset, Alison decides to go to her quarters as she needs some time to think.

Later that night, in her room, Dazzler thinks that these guys will keep coming up with excuses to not let her leave. She realizes the only way she’s going to get out of here is to sneak out. Indeed, she decides to flee at once. If her memory serves her well, all she has to do is follow the Loop track around and she should come to an emergency exit leading to the surface.

Indeed, Alison soon reaches the emergency exit where she sees the guards having their tape deck blaring which is all the noise Ali needs to go for it! Dazzler instantly causes the guards to black out with her light blasts and then opens the door leading to the outside world, longing for freedom. Suddenly, though, someone grabs her hand: it’s Quasar! The docs had warned him she might try something like this. Quasar calmly suggests they talk this over a hot cup of… Dazzler interrupts him: she tells Quasar she likes him but she won’t even let him stop her now.

Alison unleashes a formidable dazzle-burst against him but Quasar merely absorbs the brilliance she musters. He assures her they can do this all night if she likes but it seems such a waste of… In response, Ali destroys the floor under Quasar’s feet; the man however floats above the floor, telling her he knew she wouldn’t hit him with her laser… and cutting the floor out from under him is a waste of time. Dazzler herself feels exhausted as that blast took all her energy. Quasar tells her to cut this out before someone gets her. Alison miserably confesses she’s too wasted from that blast to fight any more. Quasar decides to taker her back to her room.

In the next morning, in the Project Pegasus hall, Quasar and Dazzler are having breakfast. Seeing Ali all dressed up, Quasar jokingly asks if she’s going to put a show for them today. Dazzler explains she thought she might cheer herself up by wearing her performing duds and asks him if he minds. Quasar insists she should give this place a chance: good people work here. Dazzler retorts if that’s why they keep other people trapped in cages. Quasar explains it’s only dangerous menaces they keep in cells. They’re guys who could literally destroy the world. Ali believes they’ll also decide she’s a menace if and when it fits their purposes. Quasar assures her she’s getting paranoid. “Paranoid?!” Dazzler furiously exclaims. She reminds nobody tailed him for weeks and then abducted him! The meal continues on a decidedly sour note.

A little bit later, Dazzler walks around the base, thinking it took a lot of fancy footwork on Quasar’s part to convince his bosses she didn’t need a 24-hour guard to keep her in line. She owes him for that but that doesn’t mean…

Suddenly, she realizes she’s standing outside Klaw’s chamber where it looks like they’re about to run some tests on him, too. Dazzler bitterly wonders whether these guys have no other way to get their jollies. She also wonders if Klaw is as bad as Quasar says. She’s got to talk to the “murderous master of sound” some more and now seems as good as time as any. There’s enough security here to make her feel safe.

Klaw spots Ali and types a message for her to see. It reads: YOU SHOULD LEAVE THIS AREA. WHAT THEY’RE ABOUT TO DO TO ME IS TOO HORRIBLE FOR ANYONE TO WATCH. “That poor creature” Ali thinks. To her, he seems so sensitive, so full of pain – just like the Hulk was. She’d always heard he was a menace, too, but he turned out to be a gentle, misunderstood soul. Ali doesn’t know who to believe anymore. Quasar’s a decent guy but everyone else here seems so…

Suddenly, she freezes as she sees two technicians poking some poles into Klaw’s cell. One of the technicians announces the soundproof access ports are open: they should make contact. Klaw is instantly blasted by two beams. Horrified, Dazzler sees they’re hurting him – he’s in terrible pain! Unbeknownst to her, Klaw barely feels these sono-probes but Dazzler doesn’t know that. “Come closer,” he thinks in amusement as his ruse works.

Alison realizes she can’t stand by and watch this. She urges the technicians to stop it: can’t they see how much pain he’s in? One of them assures her Klaw’s the resident Laurence Olivier: these probes couldn’t hurt a baby! Unconvinced, Alison proclaims she will make them stop: the shrilling whine of the sono-probes provides all the sound she needs to dazzle the technicians senseless! The sono-probes fall from the unconscious technicians’ hands, rattling in their access port. The abrupt motion tears the tiniest rift in the delicate soundproofing membranes inside which allows a whisper of sound to seep into the cell.

Klaw seizes the opportunity and absorbs this bit of sound, instantly causing his cage to explode. Finally free, he swears none shall ever imprison him again. Dazzler realizes she made a big mistake. Klaw gives her a taste of his sonic might as a “reward” for making his newfound freedom possible. Alison screams, feeling overwhelmed by his powers. However, she also wonders what’s happening to her as she’s glowing. One of the guards shouts Sound the alarm! as he sees Klaw fleeing. Seconds later, several guards have surrounded Klaw. However, Klaw makes their bullets vibrate into dust before the guards even get near him.

Quasar appears, ordering the guards to fall back: he’s the only one who can stop him now. Klaw mockingly suggests only trickery allowed Quasar to defeat him in the past – this time he hasn’t a prayer! Quasar tells him he’s a menace and as he himself is the person responsible for security around here, he’s going to make sure he’s returned to his imprisonment. Indeed, Quasar traps him in “cage” made of solar energy. Klaw tells Quasar he has admirable intentions but they will do him no good – for he’s spent his time here wisely, studying Quasar’s powers, calculating the precise range of vibrations needed to counter each of them, including this ordinarily formidable solid light cage!

As Klaw’s set of vibrations disrupts the cage, the villain unleashes another set with which he pelts Quasar with a barrage of lethal ultra-frequency sound particles. Quasar erects a light shield to deflect them but he can still feel them passing through, hitting him… weakening him. Quasar quickly ducks under Klaw’s attack and then comes back at him with a maximum blast of quasi-stellar energy.

However, when the smoke has cleared, Klaw is still on his feet. He asks Quasar if he can see this is not a question of raw power. Klaw’s strategy and planning have virtually neutralized Quasar’s powers and now enable Klaw to destroy him!

Nearby, Dazzler still feels woozy from Klaw’s attack but she’s got to see where he’s gone – find out how Wendell and the others are faring. After all, it was her own naïveté which allowed that madman to escape. Ali frenziedly searches the compound, until she finally finds what she wanted: Quasar is lying still on the floor with Klaw triumphant above him. “Wendell!” Ali screams. How quaint, Klaw remarks – that she and the young man are in a first-name basis.

Dazzler feels Quasar’s pulse and is relieved he’s alive. Klaw orders her to stand back: Quasar’s time has come. He’s going to terminate his miserable existence. Ali reminds him he’s got his freedom: why can’t he just leave him alone and go? Klaw admits that a short time ago he’d have been very glad to merely escape. But he can see now that Quasar would forever be a thorn in his side. He must die. Clenching her teeth, Dazzler tells him that he’ll have to kill her first.

Klaw tells her not to be stupid: if she steps aside he’ll let her live. If he tries to stop her… he’ll kill her! Dazzler realizes he sounds so confident – and why not? If Quasar couldn’t stop him, what chance does she have? Despite feeling scared, though, she knows what she’s got to do. Drawing power from the blaring alarms and the hum of machinery ever-present inside Pegasus, Dazzler hurls a searing light-barrage at Klaw.

It has no effect, however. Klaw triumphantly informs her that his body is composed of solidified sound waves. Her light-energy blasts have no more effect upon him than a flashbulb would have on the sound of a siren. Ali tries a rapid-fire barrage at point-blank range and then a maximum-flash but both have no effect. Klaw insists she’s wasting his time. Ali has one more trick: she hopes her laser blast can maybe stun Klaw, since it can slice through a foot of concrete. However, this also fails.

Klaw assures her he will end her life swiftly – painlessly – by vibrating her brain into paste before she can feel anything. Quasar’s death will be less merciful. Dazzler angrily urges him to go ahead and do it. He’d better make sure she’s dead or else she’ll find him again someday and somehow she’ll make him pay! Klaw acknowledges these as brave words; he’ll remember them for at least a week!

As Klaw bombards her with a lethal quantity of sonic energy, Ali doesn’t fall but instead begins to glow brighter and brighter while Klaw, showering her with more and more energy, seems to grow weaker. Alison realizes it doesn’t hurt; in fact it feels terrific! She’s actually absorbing the sound energy he’s pouring into her! Klaw finds it impossible: no human could stand this great a concentration of sonic energy. Dazzler retorts she’s not an ordinary human: she’s a living transducer! She can take sound – apparently, even raw sound energy like his – and transform into light. Klaw’s energy is flooding into her, feeding her raw power. As Klaw’s sonic substance is sucked out of him, he pleads her to stop but Dazzler can’t resist to the flow: it’s too strong!

Within seconds, al that remains of Klaw is his prosthetic sonic device which falls to the cold metal floor. Horrified, Alison realizes Klaw’s gone! She absorbed him – devoured him alive! Ali feels sick. She sees Quasar and the scientists rushing towards her and thinks they will help her. As she pronounces Wendell’s name, Quasar assures her he knows: he saw what happened. He urges to calm down; everything will be alright.

Dazzler exclaims she’s a murderer and insists she didn’t mean to; couldn’t help it! One minute he was standing there and then… She feels horrible, like a vampire; his energy is churning inside her! Fascinated, a scientist informs her that, apparently, the energy she has absorbed from Klaw has put her past the threshold level beyond which her body can store power. The blinding glow around here now is evidence of the awesome charge of energy in her cells!

Dazzler asks him how she can get back to normal. For the scientist that’s elementary: under controlled conditions back at the lab. Ali disagrees, however, declaring she wants it out of her now! She casually releases a small power-burst on the wall that blasts away tons of steel, concrete and earth – clear through to the outside! The scientists are impressed. Meeker believes that’s a rare opportunity for them – for science! Even the Nobel Prize is a distinct possibility. The scientists can’t wait to get back to the lab and begin work. One of them tells Ali they’re wasting valuable time!

Furious, Ali realizes that, for them, this is just another big, happy experiment. They can’t understand that a man is dead because they brought her to this stinking place for their stupid tests! Klaw was right about them: they are evil – far worse than he was. Ali propels herself in the air using light energy and flies outside the opening on the wall. Quasar begs her to stop. Dazzler explains she can’t control the power; she’s radiating involuntarily! In despair, Alison believes that everything she cones near, she destroys. She’s a menace – a monster! She always used to wish she had more power but not like this! Saying this, she collapses on the soil of Mount Athena.

In a spacecraft, billions of light years from Earth, a robot watches her from a monitor. It knows she is the one in all the universe with the power his master needs. Soon, though it will cost her very life, she will do his bidding!

Characters:
Dazzler

Quasar
Meeker and other scientists and security guards of Project Pegasus
Solarr
Nuklo

Klaw

Human Torch (Fantastic Four)
Dr. Paul Janson
Bella Blaire
Carter Blaire
Harry S. Osgood

Drone R-11 (robot servant drone of Galactus)

Notes:
Dazzler was “kidnapped” by Meeker at the end of last issue.

Solarr’s previous villainous achievements can be seen in Captain America (1st series) #160, Avengers (1st series) #126, Defenders (1st series) #42-44 and Marvel Two-In-One #53 & #57.

Klaw fought the Thing and the American Eagle in Marvel Two-In-One Annual #6. He will return in Marvel Super Hero Secret Wars #6.

Dazzler faced the Hulk in Dazzler #6-7.

This Issue has been reprinted in:
Essential Dazzler Vol. 1 (Trade Paperback)

Issue Summary written by: Mesmerizer


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