What If … ? Featuring The Dazzler!

Gary Jackson


Summer of ’79 and everyone’s sitting here eating my heart out waiting

waiting for some lover to call, and Casablanca Records realizes

there’s money to be made so they make some calls, eager to create

another superstar: a triple-threat: singer/actress/superhero. The famous

artist’s son designs her — a black woman leaning over the executive’s

desk in a white jumpsuit with a neckline so low it’s out of view, short

white hair slicked back tight, surrounded by the Uncanny X-men,

though this Dazzler is a far cry from the white girl on roller skates;

this Dazzler is pure Grace Jones fresh off three albums, the next

big thing. But the executives disagree, they want more Bo Derek in 10,

so the artist’s son quits. By the time they turn Dazzler white, things

have fallen apart — there’ll be no record deal or feature film. Not even

an invitation to the Uncanny X-men until years later. Imagine what might

have been: Grace Jones doubling the X-men’s number of black employees.

Cyclops shaking her hand before giving her the tour of the X-mansion,

introducing her to the team before finally letting Storm take her into

an office or attic, or whisk her high into the sky — anywhere they can be

alone and speak honestly about working alongside all these white folks.

Grace Jones would ask how is it really working here? What’s the culture

like? And do you feel lonely sometimes? And Storm would respond the pay

isn’t great, but it’s a good job. And sometimes you get to fly, and see things

no one else ever gets to see. It’s important for us to work in these spaces,

and I’m glad you’re here. I’m so happy you’re here. It’s a conversation

some of us have had before. I did when I first started teaching here.

And the colleague who talked to me, and became my dear friend

over our shared love of comics, had the same conversation when she

interviewed at this same college. She’s no longer here because

she passed away, and I feel more alone than I’ve ever felt in a long

time, because all my friends are slowly being erased, because

even though I own every issue of Dazzler, she’s no Grace Jones.


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