Imagine a mutant who can convert sound energy into light energy. Doesn’t that sound like the perfect power for a rockstar? Marvel thought so too and Dazzler was born. But Dazzler isn’t interested in being an X-man or working for S.H.I.E.L.D., she just wants to sing.
But now she’s being pulled back. Her father is missing and it’s related to her past. She hasn’t spoken to him in years but she can’t abandon him. Besides, he’s not the only father who’s gone missing. And the real plot is much more sinister than absent fathers. Can Dazzler save her father with the help of some fellow mutants with as many daddy issues as she has? Will they be enough to discover and stop the bigger plot behind these disappearing daddies? Let’s explore what Amanda Bridgeman brings in the Sound of Light: A School of X Novel.
[Note: While I am reviewing this novel independently and honestly, it should be noted that it has been provided to me by Aconyte for the purpose of this review. Warning: My review of Sound of Light contains some spoilers!]
A hidden mutant, a reluctant hero in Sound of Light
The spotlight might seem like an odd place to try and hide but that’s exactly how Dazzler does it. She tried to be the perfect daughter and pursue law as her father wanted. And she tried to be a perfect mutant and attend the Charles Xavier School. But the call of the stage was too strong so she disappointed her father and mutants alike by pursuing those lights.
That is until the night a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent cornered her after a show. She tells him to get lost but he tells her that her father is missing and she can’t walk away from that. Once he has her attention, he briefs her that Magneto and Cyclops are also missing. All the disappearances seem to be connected to a substance, MGH. MGH or Mutant Growth Hormone is a substance that was derived from Dazzler’s blood (against her will) that enhances mutant powers and gives humans boosted strength and speed. Between her anger and guilt over MGH, her karmic debts to Magneto and Cyclops, and her father in danger, Dazzler has no choice. She agrees to help S.H.I.E.L.D. with the case.
No Trust from Dazzler
Even though Dazzler agrees to help S.H.I.E.L.D., she doesn’t trust them. She does everything she can to escape their scrutiny and turns to the Charles Xavier School for help. There she encounters Emma Frost, a mutant with mind manipulation powers and the head of the school in Magneto’s absence. The two women have no trust or love for each other but they put their differences aside enough to work together for the sake of mutant kind. Emma Frost refuses to leave the school unguarded at such a dangerous time but she sends along Sage, a mutant with a “really good memory” to help Dazzler.
Frost also reaches out to Wolverine at the Jean Grey School for Higher Learning (a rival mutant school) for help. He brings Polaris and Rachel Grey, the daughters of Magneto and Cyclops respectively, to aid Dazzler and Sage. The girls have their own daddy issues they are trying to work through. Like Dazzler, neither is close to their father but also like Dazzler, neither wants their father to be hurt or killed. They agree to help, if somewhat reluctantly and the four women start pursuing leads.
They are handicapped by their lack of trust though. Dazzler trusts no one, Polaris and Rachel don’t trust Dazzler and Sage, S.H.I.E.L.D. doesn’t trust Dazzler, Frost only trusts Sage, you get the picture. Because no one trusts anyone else, information isn’t being shared and the women walk into some dangerous situations as they work through their investigations. As they uncover a far bigger and more dangerous plot than anyone had thought was in motion they will need to learn to trust each other if they want to survive.
Broken but still good
Broken protagonists are becoming more and more popular. Authors have come to realize that people like seeing heroes that are a little less than perfect. It gives us hope for ourselves. It’s the reason Batman remains far more popular than Superman. Perfection is great but unattainable. A hero with problems we can see ourselves in.
In Sound of Light, Amanda Bridgeman gives us not one but five strong women that are very capable of saving the day. The beauty is that all five save the day without being perfect. They all have their flaws. Most are some version of trust issues and all are very well deserved. But as deep as their issues are, they find a way to overcome them. Together they reach out and learn to trust again and it was very inspirational.
Dazzler needs a new song though
As great as the group was and as strong as they end up becoming, Dazzler has a very one-track mind. She just wants to get it over with so she can get back to her band. She’s been hiding from responsibility in music for a long time, ever since her father wanted her to become a lawyer and she balked.
Her mindset of rock and roll all night, and partying every day, would be perfectly placed in a teenage mutant just coming into her powers. But, while a specific age is never given, Dazzler has to be at least 30 based on the amount of back-story that is brought up. By thirty, she should be seeing a broader view of the world than just the selfish rockstar life. She does the right thing when pushed but she whines the whole time about how she just wants to be left alone and it gets a little annoying.
Dazzler does work through some of her trust issues by the end of the book. She manages to work well in a team and even seems to have made some lasting connections with the people she worked with but she still can’t wait to hurry back to her band at the end and it feels like she hasn’t grown at all on that front, which was a little sad.
Still a great melody
Despite Dazzler’s feedback loop, Bridgeman offers a nice story in Sound of Light. Sage is a really awesome powerhouse of ability and confidence that works as a nice foil to Dazzler, Polaris, and Rachel’s inexperience. The four start off bumpy, as you would expect four powerful people suddenly thrown together too, but they manage to come together nicely for some really great team-ups by the end. The women saving the men is a fun twist on a common trope that I greatly enjoyed. Anyone looking for a fun time with some powerful women is going to love this book.
My Rating: 8/10
Sound of Light: A School of X Novel by Amanda Bridgeman is available now from Aconyte Books. Have you read the novel? What are your thoughts on it? Let us know on Discord or Twitter. If you haven’t already, check out our review of another Marvel novel from Aconyte, The Prisoner of Tartarus!
Book Review: The Prisoner of Tartarus: A Marvel Legends of Asgard Novel