Given that only this week I wrote a post about how much I detest a change in artist on a favourite book of mine, but I was so impressed with Kris Anka on Uncanny X-Men. Bachalo has been Bendis’ artist since it began, bar the odd issue, and his stamp is firmly on this title. Even though I like Anka, I was not happy to see the change especially considering this book was the aftermath to the overall arc that began from it’s inception. However I was proved so wrong when it came to Alison Blair, aka Dazzler having a psychotic breakdown in the ladies restroom.
It is a simple character development ploy, where a character looks at themselves in the mirror, to finally see what has become of them. I am sure I could hunt down a few comic pages that depict this but I know they would pale in comparison to these two pages. The panels above set out the scene as Alison stands in front of a sink, shoulders haunched and just staring. She looks into the steaming mirror but it not actually doing anything, but as we move to to the closer shot, there is so much to glean. The make up on her face streams down with tears, and her mascara almost makes her look like a sullen angst ridden music act. Her eyes are angled downwards producing skin creases that express her anger and vitriol. She scowls with her nose pinched up at the sides and her hair covers half of her face. She no longer cares about her appearance and it provides the renewable fuel to her emotions. She looks beaten and bruised, not only physically and emotionally. As the page turns we witness images of her past glories, the pop star evolution. From her initial costumes to those more up to date, there is a delicate subtly in inking and colouring to bear out the youth and maturation of her younger years. They provide such start contrast to the black and white panels of current time, as Blair starts to wipe her face. She is no longer the person she once was, she has been abused against her will and had atrocities committed to her that no person deserves. The damage is too severe to ever return to the life she once knew. Anka uses ever so subtle glances and changes in posture to depict her thought processes. She looks and then she takes a delicate glance to the scissors at her side. Your mind conjures up images of how she may act with these scissors but cutting her hair is probably the most visually dramatic change to her appearance. Whichever way you look at it, Dazzler is no more and there are no more lights. Not only is she saying goodbye to the person who she was but ushering in a new era in the life of Alison Blair.
In this case I was very surprised to see some emotional introspection from Bendis and especially with the Dazzler character. I have only known her to be a pop star mutant with light beam effects, but she has always been the superficially bubbly and pretty persona with little depth underneath. It seems almost cruel to do this too her, she is far too innocent a person. They could’ve have easily washed over the fact she was abducted and held comatose, and her body was used to extract mutant growth hormone. No one would be dismayed at having her bounce back to her effervescent self, but I am glad they didn’t. She is the perfect person to do this too because she is the most underserving. Not only does it make Mystique appear to be incredibly depraved and immoral, accentuating her devilishness, but it allows Alison to change and become a tortured soul to join the rest of her X-colleagues. This may play into some interesting plot points and bring more to Blair than a light fantastic singer. Kris Anka has managed to produce scenes of emotional devastation and self reflection by way of contrasting a past life to that of the devastating present. I look back and wonder how Bachalo would’ve handled it because that would also have been quite emphatic. In any case Anka produces two fine pages of artwork that bring Alison Blair hurtling into a painful reality from the popular fantasy world she has only ever known.