Armagideon Time

Did you know that mutant roller-disco sensation Alison Blaire appeared in the Marvel Universe’s version of the “Thriller” video?

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It happened in the pages of Dazzler #33 (August 1984), information pills in which the titular character teamed up with (a non-actionable analogue of) The Gloved One to take on the seamy side of the 1980s music video industry.

(Following the advice of comics journalism’s resident anal pustule, I cornered the market on copies of this issue in hopes of cashing in on the event of Jacko’s unfortunate demise. I’m now in the process of paving the path to the garbage cans out back with solid gold flagstones purchased with the morbid windfall. Hooray for comics!)

It’s the type of hard-hitting and topical story one usually encounters in the likes of later season episodes of A-Team or Knight Rider, done up in the righteous Mighty Marvel mediocre style by the team of writer Mike Carlin, penciler Mark Bright, and inker Vince “The Obliterator” Colletta, and concealed behind a quite spiffy painted cover by Bill Sienkiewicz.

While some might dismiss Dazzler#33 as being yet another embarrassing example of comics industry attempting to cash in on a waning trend, the incorporation of Michael Jackson into the Marvel Universe and its framework of causality has implications that go far beyond the expected Marvel Zombies/Michael Jackson twelve-issue miniseries. (A variant Zombie Jacko/Zombie Obama cover, drawn by Zombie Michael Turner, will be offered as an incentive to retailers who pre-order a minimum of 50,000 copies.)

Following the much publicized Death of Michael Jackson, the King of Pop mantle will be passed (along with a really stupid-looking costume designed by Alex Ross) by Tony (Stark) Music to Justin Timberlake.  The new, gun-toting (‘cuz guns are badass, yo) King will be forced to adjust to his role even as he tries to win the trust of Jacko’s old partner Macaulay Culkin.

Together they will roam the world — from the nightmare labyrinth of Broad Street to the exotic pleasure garden of the White Diamonds — in search of the forces behind Jackson’s demise.

Who is the sinister architect of the conspiracy? Rupert Murdoch? Liz Taylor? Sir Paul? The Santa Barbara District Attorney’s Office? The Ghost of John Merrick? A vengeful Bubbles? Whose corpse was really in that hyperbaric chamber? And why do a host of fiendish forces seem hell-bent on exploiting the late King’s young children?

The answers may not surprise you, but they will certainly depress you.

It all culminates in Michael Jackson: Reborn, where it is revealed that the King of Pop is not dead, but — thanks to a plot device shamelessly cribbed from Cat’s Cradle — merely unstuck in reality and awaiting to be resurrected into a more listener-friendly state, free from the troublesome history and off-putting appearance changes that the character has been burdened with over the last quarter century.

I’m curious to see how it fares sales-wise against the debut of Black Lantern Jacko in DC’s forthcoming Blackest Thriller Diller Chiller Night one-shot…which advance buzz says starts off fairly dark, but gets progressively lighter in tone as the tale progresses.

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