At last year’s New York Comic Con I picked up a stack of Dazzler comics (issues #1-14, circa 1981), for the bargain price of $0.25 apiece. I couldn’t tell you why exactly, except that maybe it was a good-sized run at a low, low price and I had heard things about the Dazzler series. Heck, I could have picked up even more issues, but I had to draw the line somewhere and a little over a year’s worth seemed a good place to stop.
There’s not much I can say about the series, it’s the adventures of a modern (eighties) girl dealing with life, love, and supervillains. There’s even a jealous rival for the affections of a handsome doctor. It’s mostly pretty silly, though admirable in how they took what in many circumstances would have been a throwaway character and said, “Look, this character is powerful and she matters.” I just wish current writers could have learned from that; I barely noticed Dazzler was back on the X-Men.
The comics themselves are interesting in how they present a time capsule of kid culture in the early eighties; there are ads for old Saturday morning cartoons, Dungeons and Dragons, and those programs where you sell greeting cards in exchange for prizes like a cheap handheld radio. Most amusing of all is that each issue features a Hostess ad at the end.
Older folks might remember these, a series of one page comics featuring a superhero (mostly Marvel but sometimes DC) battling the forces of evil with the help of some delectable Hostess treat, usually Hostess Fruit Pies, though sometimes Twinkies or cupcakes. The ads ran from 1977-1982, but live on in dollar bins everywhere. Most installments featured a villain’s dastardly scheme being thwarted by tasty pastry goodness, though there were variations, like this Aquaman adventure where a group of men inside a rocket venture underwater to introduce delicious “golden sponge cake” to the people of Atlantis, endangering a kelp farm in the process.
Seanbaby of Electronic Gaming Monthly, Cracked.com, and of course, Seanbaby.com has put together an archive of these Hostess ads, including an interview with Bob Rozakis, the writer of several DC-themed Hostess advertisements. He also has a section on other stupid comic book ads, including ones for the Charles Atlas “Dynamic Tension” system and Thom McAn shoes. It’s an interesting look at the history of advertising in comics, as well as worth a few chuckles.