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From Grace Jones to Bo Derek: 40 Years of Marvel's Dazzler

By Mike Avila

Nearly four decades ago, Chris Claremont and John Byrne’s Dark Phoenix Saga redefined the X-Men. That storyline also introduced one of Marvel’s most unique and even notorious characters: Alison Blaire, aka Dazzler! Although when Alison first appeared in Uncanny X-Men #130, she was very much the Disco Dazzler long after disco had lost its luster.

One of the reasons that Dazzler was outdated upon her debut is that she was conceived years earlier for a much more ambitious project that would have combined Marvel comic books with a real-life singer performing as Dazzler. And if Dazzler co-creator John Romita Jr. had had his way, Alison would have been based on model and actress Grace Jones.

“Tom DeFalco came up to me and said, ‘We have to create a character who goes to clubs,’” recalled Romita. “This was in the late ‘70s. He said, ‘Do what you can and come up with something ... I want a female character that goes to clubs that you see all the time.’ Hanging out in New York in the ‘70s and ‘80s at the clubs, I saw Grace Jones. That’s the first thing I thought of. Her hair was buzzed, stunningly beautiful, statuesque. [She] wore this skintight outfit, she was on roller skates. I said ‘this is the character.’”

However, Dazzler was greatly changed by the time she appeared on the page. Instead of using Jones as a model, Dazzler resembled Bo Derek and other actresses from that era. In fact, Derek was briefly attached to play Dazzler in a planned feature film that would have been directed by her husband, John Derek. Unfortunately, the stars were not aligned for that project to reach fruition.

After Dazzler headlined her own comic book series, Claremont further developed her as a member of the X-Men. She’s no longer quite as prevalent as she used to be, but Dazzler still has a devoted fan following 40 years after her debut.

For more Dazzler memories from Romita, DeFalco, Claremont, and more, check out the latest episode of SYFY WIRE’s Behind the Panel!