Blue Romance: Wait, let’s see that again

Posted: February 14th, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

Aah … l’amour!

Happy Valentine’s Day, everybody!

Blue Romance: Love to love you, baby

Posted: February 11th, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | No Comments »

And now, the rest of the Beauty and the Beast story is coming at you in wham-bam fashion — let’s go!

When we last saw our lovelorn couple, Dazzler had worked herself into a nice little nervous breakdown, Beast was getting inexplicably possessive and Doctor Doom was still railing like Michael Jackson that the mysterious kid in L.A. was not his son. He may have moonwalked, but that is unconfirmed. After getting picked up by an apparent gang of hippies on the beach, Dazzler ended up at a mutant misfit halfway house called (sigh) Heartbreak Hotel, with Beast hot on her heels.

What happened next? Well, there was some inappropriate touching …

… and then, after “days pass” a couple of times, Beast finally wears Dazzler down with his teddy bear charms!

Who knew Dazzler and Beast were such sticklers for proper grammar?

Everything is copacetic until sleazy show producer Hugo Longride and smooth operator/Dazzler boyfriend Alex Flynn remind Alison that she signed a contract that they expect her to honor. Eventually she hits the “stage,” which looks like a cross between the floor of the Coliseum and a Lovecraftian rumpus room. Dazzler sings, gets booed, and what the crowd really wants is revealed — fiiiiight!!!

Afterward there’s some moral debate, heavy mutants-are-outcasts discussion and a lot of angst I’m gonna skip over. Beast busts into the dressing room to rescue Dazzler (again), but she starts to glow uncontrollably (again), freaks out and tells Beast to hit the bricks. Which, of course, leads to more frowny-face Beast.

Later, Dazzler and Beast seem to be an item again (writer Ann Nocenti has a tendency to get loosey-goosey with the flow of time), but still debate whether or not she should be “performing.” There’s some more “we’re all misfits in some way” talk (it really starts getting thick at this point), as well as more pining from Beast. And then, in preparation for her next battle, Dazzler puts on a stereotypical Native American costume for absolutely no reason.

Hank decides to do some snooping and discovers that Flynn and Longride have been drugging Dazzler to make her more suggestible, while also causing her to lose control of her light powers. But before he can do anything about it, he’s caught and drugged himself. Now a slobbering animal, Beast is put on the gladiator floor with Dazzler and a nasty little fight breaks out pretty quick.

Faced with the embarrassing smell of burning dog hair, Beast snaps out of it and desperately shouts some sweet-nothings to Dazzler. True love wins through and the fight ends with the two hugging it out in the middle of the floor. The crowd, of course, isn’t very happy about this turn of events and to calm them down, Flynn puts on a cape and talks the other fighters into killing Longride.

Meanwhile, Doom decides he’s had enough and hops a doomjet for California, but still takes the time to doomslap his butler some more. Stupid butler, with his constant updates on Doom’s bastard son!

Once he reaches L.A., it’s revealed that Longride was really a doombot keeping an eye on the alleged doomspawn — Alexander Flynn!

While all this is going on, Beast and Dazzler have been captured and hung upside down in a basement. But that doesn’t mean they can’t make out a little, right?

At the same time, a couple of the Heartbreak residents decide to mount a rescue of their own, Rocker (remember the horse-faced fighter?) switches sides, Flynn monologues about how he’ll be the next ruler of Latveria, and Doom lurks in the shadows while continuing to deny Flynn is his son (alright, man, we get it — gah!).

After being freed by Rocker, Dazzler and Beast confront Flynn (who’s now wearing a Kirbyesqe helmet in addition to his doomcape) and his semi-mind controlled mutant gladiators! Against all odds, the duo not only hold their own, but start winning. Er, surprise?

Even more surprising is Flynn’s O-face:

In his defense, that line never fail to impress da ladiez. Feeling pretty good about himself, Flynn captures one of the misfits, which forces another gladiator to nearly kill Flynn before he’s stopped by Beast and Dazzler.

Defeated and utterly humiliated after his fighters turn their backs on him, Flynn finally gets a little face-time with dear old not-dad. It goes about as well as you’d expect.

And this is where things really fall apart because the whole thing ends up being one big anti-climax. Doom just sorta leaves, the fighters get revenge on Flynn by mocking him a bit before leaving, and then — AND THEN — Dazzler and Beast come to the conclusion that maybe they should “just be friends.”


Am I the only one who thinks this is just like the last scene in Singles? It just needs more Paul Westerberg. But that, finally, is the end. Heavy-handed but morbidly entertaining, the mini-series winds up being a little frustrating because, things just go back to the way they were when this whole thing started. As far as I know, this Love-That-Could-Not-Be is never mentioned again. Ever. Personally, I’d love it if somehow this little bit of ancient romantic history would be brought up again, even if it was just in passing. Like a lot of past relationships, it’s just too damn weird to ignore.

Ann Nocenti, writer; Don Perlin, artist; Kim DeMulder, inker

Bonus Panel!

Oh, God.

Blue Romance: Under the covers!

Posted: February 10th, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | No Comments »

Before we get back to the inexplicable tale of romance that is Beauty and the Beast, let’s take a look at one of the best things about this four-part mini-series — the covers.

I’ve mentioned it before, but Bill Sienkiewicz is one of my favorite artists. His artsy sensibility and ever-evolving — yet still signature — technique has a tendency to elevate whatever particular comic book he’s working on. That’s certainly the case with his Beauty and the Beast covers.

Each of these has that Sienkiewicz “look,” and while I think issues #3 and #4 are pretty standard in terms of setting and design, they’ve all got a certain visual energy. That said, what’s up with issue #4? That one is particularly weak and looking at it is the optical equivalent of a sour note — I want to ignore it, but it’s tinny and flat in a way that just bugs me. I always get the feeling Sienkiewicz phoned that last one in (though it is still consistent with the theme of energy bursting outward, both in Dazzler’s light and Hank’s fur).

My favorite, though, is probably the cover to issue #2, just because it’s such a great callback to the classic romance comic. I especially dig the way Sienkiewicz renders Dazzler’s power; it’s subtle but touches on an important characteristic while also drawing in the viewers’ focus without hitting them over the head with it.

Take a look, and see what you think:

Even more than the covers themselves, my absolute favorite design element is the itty-bitty Beast and Dazzler that Sienkiewicz drew for the cornerbox. In just one tiny mini-scene, the artist has summed up the attempted tone of the story, and all the bittersweet, clutching emotion that goes with it. It’s really freakin’ impressive, actually:

Awww — aren’t they adorable? And there’s that outward burst again, carrying a visual theme through to what’s often a throw-away patch of art. Sienkiewicz is really a master artist.

Cover art by Bill Sienkiewicz

Blue Romance: Stars (and garters) get in your eyes

Posted: February 9th, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | No Comments »

Jean Grey and Cyclops, Daredevil and Elektra, Spider-Man and Mary Jane — these are names that represent comicdom’s fairy tales of everlasting love*. And while these well-known stories from the Marvel Universe chronicle the never-ending bliss of big-name characters, that doesn’t mean the second-tier characters are left out in the cold.

Take for instance, oh … Beauty and the Beast.

Written by Ann Nocenti with pencils by Don Perlin, this four-issue mini-series was nothing less than the classic tragedy of unrequited love as seen through the eyes of a mutant disco queen and her shaggy blue boyfriend. Yes — it is EPIC.

Now, as far as I know there was never any hint of even a smidge of attraction between Dazzler and Beast in the past, and the script seems to hint they only had a passing acquaintance before this series. But drop them in a Hollywood party or a gladiator pit and it doesn’t take long for them to start making goo-goo eyes at each other.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Beauty and the Beast #1 actually starts the way all stories should — with Doctor Doom.

All Doom wants — I mean, besides total power and the complete obedience of his subjects — is some alone time with his art. Can’t a guy decompress a little? No! Not when the bastard son you turned your back on years ago suddenly surfaces in California, you can’t.

Man, that’s cold. By coincidence (*cough*), Doom isn’t the only one headed for the land of sun, surf and drive-bys. The Beast is taking a vacation from the Defenders (and the X-Men and the Avengers, because he’s a member of all of ’em, as he’ll mention like a bajillion times), and he’s decided Los Angeles is weird enough to accept a mutant covered in nothing but blue fur and a Speedo.

Think again, Hank! Even though he mentions it a few times to himself, Beast is still surprised that the anti-mutant craze sweeping the nation has come to L.A., too. In the Dazzler: The Movie graphic novel, Dazzler was outed as a mutant and now the whole country hates “muties.” ‘Cause Dazzler betrayed her audience? Or something? I’m not sure how Dazzler became the cornerstone of mutant/human relations, but thinking about her fall from grace makes Beast get all frowny-face.

Meanwhile, Dazzler is dealing with her new image problems head-on by going to parties. She blazed a trail for Paris and Britney more than 20 years ago! As far as I know, though, Daz is still wearing underwear.

At the party Dazzler meets Alexander Flynn, and this guy is smooth. Alison speechifies about how mutants are going to have to start drinking out of separate water fountains soon — Nocenti hits the “mutants as misunderstood outsiders” thing pretty hard — and Alex gives her the ol’ “yeah, yeah” before convincing her to sign a contract with slimy producer-type Hugo Longride. He’s cagey about exactly what kind of show he produces, but Dazzler signs anyway, because as we’ll see, she’s not very smart. I mean, c’mon, Longride? Even if it’s not what it sounds like, shouldn’t that name itself be a red flag? It’s like taking a job with Dick Stickyfloor**.

Alison doesn’t have time to sweat the details, not when there are more parties to go to and a battered reputation to sabotage. But, like a lot of people who party too hearty, Alison suddenly has a problem with leaking in inappropriate places.

A week later Wonder Man (who’s with the West Coast Avengers at the time) thinks a wrap party is just what Hank needs — that and a bright yellow shirt with no buttons. And hey, guess who else is there drowning her sorrows? Before he can even say, “How’re YOU doin’?” Beast is defending Dazzler’s dubious honor and roughing up a guy with a look that the Fall catalogs call “The Seabiscuit.”

That guy must spend a fortune on toothpaste. Soon Dazzler is breaking up the fight after squinting at the furry blue dude and saying, “Hey, you look familiar,” then skedaddling when her unpredictable light show freaks her right out. Luckily, Wonder Man is there to be the voice of optimism.

Wonder Man: Ultimate Douche. Anyway, Dazzler proceeds to lose it a little more, and Beast convinces himself that Alison needs some sweet, sweet rescuin’ while he cranks up the pining from “wistful” to “stalkery.”

Yikes. Dial it down,Hank — it just isn’t attractive. But what’s a lovelorn Beast to do? How does he save his Beauty from a nebulously defined fate-worse-than-death? Well, tracking down and beating up a guy with a horse face is a start. While all this is going on, Dazzler has emo’ed herself all the way to the beach. She gets out another, “I am the light,” before a gang of beach bums with a cart pick her up and carry her away.

Yeah, seriously.

At the same time, Beast has pinned the horse-faced Rocker (I know, I know) in a half-gelding and forces him to call his boss so he can find out where Dazzler has gone. Somehow Beast was right to guess Longride would have her followed, and with an address in hand he throws himself out a closed window and hotfoots it across town.

The address turns out to be an old hotel and — even though he’s supposed to be the thoughtful intellectual — Beast immediately busts in the door and starts making demands of the old lady and the kid who are just kind of hanging out. They make a half-hearted try at hiding Dazzler, but she’s easy to find since her light power is really out of control now. Dazzler figures glowing a lot makes you grotesque, but Hank is there to handle damage control.

Hank. Dude, seriously.

* This might be sarcasm.

** I’m so, so sorry.

Ann Nocenti, writer; Don Perlin, penciler; Kim DeMulder, inker

Blue Romance: Beauty and the Beast Week begins (again!)

Posted: February 8th, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

Way back when Great Caesar’s Post was still a young blog, with stars in its eyes and a spring in its step, I ran a short series about the Beauty and the Beast four-part mini published by Marvel in 1984 through ’85. Some of you might remember this, most of you probably don’t, and in any case, I always got a kick out of it. So I’m opening the vault and re-releasing the series of posts (with original mutant warts and all) on the unsuspecting populace in honor of the swiftly arriving Valentine’s Day.

That’s right — it’s the return of Blue Romance!

Hey, remember that time Dazzler and the Beast fell in love while on the run from anti-mutant hysteria and ended up joining an underground gladiatorial fight club in Hollywood that was controlled by the illegitimate son of Doctor Doom?


Beauty and the Beast week continues tomorrow!