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Sep 1

Domino: Hotshots

Posted on Sunday, September 1, 2019 by Paul in x-axis

You thought I’d forgotten about this one, didn’t you? Or, more likely, you’d forgotten about it. Weirdly tagged on to the end of a Domino ongoing series whose final issue read as if everything was being rushed to a conclusion, this is… a five issue miniseries which is basically another five issues of Domino, even though the logo says Hotshots in big letters and Domino in really, really small ones. But it’s still Gail Simone and David Baldeón, and it’s still the cast that were established in their Domino ongoing, which was kind of an ensemble book already, treating Diamondback and Outlaw as virtual co-stars. The same applies here, but with a rather wider group, and a little bit more flexibility in terms of who gets to be the narrator.

It’s one of those stories in which a dangerously powerful macguffin surfaces, and everyone is chasing after it to make sure that it stays out of the wrong hands. This particular macguffin falls from space, and transforms everyone who touches it by… well, by turning them into a Jack Kirby character, pretty much. Black Widow is the one who supposedly wants to keep it out of the wrong hands, and she hires Domino’s crew for the purpose, with White Fox (the South Korean character who’s being steadily introduced into the mainstream Marvel Universe) coming along too. The tension here, of course, is whether any of these guys would trust any of the others to walk off with the cosmic macguffin.

And then… Deadpool shows up. For some reason. I mean, I know he’s popular, and that Gail Simone likes writing him, but I don’t get what he’s adding to this book, which has a large enough cast already. At first it looks like he’s going to be a rival artefact hunter, but since he swaps side to ally with Domino’s team almost immediately, it’s hard to see what he’s doing here – he feels like clutter. More interesting is the idea that Outlaw is infected by the macguffin at an early stage, so that you get this very earthy, non-philosophical character going steadily cosmic over the course of the story.

For this to work at all, you have to embrace Simone’s somewhat idiosyncratic take on Domino from the short lived solo title. Domino tends not to be written very consistently – sometimes she’s a hard bitten pro, sometimes she’s a cynical merc, sometimes she’s a reckless maniac pinballing through life with her luck powers. Simone’s version is a slightly flaky version of the “gets by on luck” take, which makes her more likeable at the cost of making her feel like an amateur. Her arc here is mainly about her demonstrating her ability as a team leader and proving herself to her idol Black Widow – most versions of Domino would either be hyper-professional already, or simply wouldn’t care what Black Widow thought of them. Simone’s would, to be sure, but it does bring home that her Domino feels a bit off to me.

I like Baldeon’s art and his Kirby pastiches – the cosmic elements are nicely handled, visually at least. But for all the ominous bits about Celestials, a macguffin is a macguffin, and the story never gets to the full potential of contrasting Domino with concepts of Marvel’s cosmic side. The big idea turns out to be the obvious one: Domino has the chance to take on the power and change the world, and she chooses instead not to lose her humanity. But that’s not an original take on the trope – and despite the Kirby/Celestial trappings, the plot really is just the old standard “thingie that is too powerful to let fall into the wrong hands”. Beneath the surface, the book doesn’t bring much new to that. It’s structurally weird, too – there’s a false ending in issue #4 before an extra villain shows up just in time for the finale.

If the idea was to pilot a team book, then it’s not especially convincing either. They’re a random bunch, without much to hold in common, and the three core members of Domino’s Posse were a more effective ensemble cast too (even if Simone has started really hammering the idea that Diamondback is meant to be a snob, and more by telling us repeatedly than actually showing it – it’s not brilliantly done). Random teams can sometimes work, but nothing about this one really cries out for a reunion.

This book throws some good art, and a lot of characters and window dressing, at a fairly routine story – and never quite manages to disguise that fact.

Bring on the comments

  1. Ben says:

    Yeah, a bit cluttered.

    But I enjoyed it.

    I like her take on Domino.

    I read it not as a more amateur take, just one that keeps getting in over her head.

    We’re seeing behind the veneer of badassery.

  2. Job says:

    It did the job of selling a product when the Deadpool 2 movie was out. Good enough by Marvel standards, I suppose.

  3. sam says:

    I wasn’t able to put my finger on why Simone’s Domino felt off to me, but this review articulated it. I did like the art and the Domino series did have its moments. I think the international characters she used in Hotshots have some potential.

    I used to read everything Simone put out, but she’s been hit-and-miss for me since around the New 52 at DC. I don’t know if that’s a coincidence and my taste changed, but it sure seemed like she lost her mojo a bit when DC removed Oracle from circulation.

    Surviving Megalopolis was good, though.

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