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Oct 4

Domino Annual #1

Posted on Thursday, October 4, 2018 by Paul in x-axis

Annuals are always off to the side somewhere, and if they’re not going to be important to the plot, they have to find some other way of standing out.  The first Domino annual is certainly different: it’s a four-story anthology with four different writers (plus a framing sequence by Leah Williams and Michael Shelfer).  So we’re getting a bunch of different perspectives on Domino, a character who’s been written in wildly divergent ways over the years.  Does it add up to something coherent?

First up is “Dead Drunk in Dry Gulch”, by regular writer Gail Simone, with art by Victor Ibáñez and Jay David Ramos.  This one ties in directly to the regular title, since it’s a flashback to Domino’s first encounter with Outlaw, forming the posse from the regular title.  It’s a blatant retcon, equipping Domino with two best friends who she’s never previously been associated with, so a bit of back story probably helps lend it weight.

Domino and Diamondback stumble into Outlaw while hunting for a bad guy.  Domino, being Domino, is instantly impressed by the crazy cowgirl and wants to make friends.  You know the drill, but Ibáñez does well at selling Domino’s casual flukiness (as she imperviously drinks beer during the fight), and Outlaw’s frenzied craziness.  Fortunately, the actual villain is a Z-lister who’s building a cross between a Sentinel and a pick-up truck, and when Outlaw finds out that he’s probably not going to pay her, she switches sides, And That’s How They Met.  It’s a cute little vignette, even if the Posse still feel like a new element pretending to be more established than they are.  That’ll fade with time.

“The Good Fight” by Fabian Nicieza, Juan Gedeon & Jesus Aburtov is a very strange five pager.  It’s basically Cable in a future war zone (which Gedeon draws in a pleasingly chunky way) reminiscing about the time he had a bath with Domino.  Cable remembers that as a moment of peace or hope or something, but he’s angry with himself because he realises it wasn’t really Domino.

This is a call-back to a scene from X-Force #6, and probably makes little or no sense to anyone who doesn’t remember the original.  Domino did indeed turn out to be an impostor in her earliest appearances – the real Domino’s canonical first appearance is a flashback in X-Force #8.  And the relative awkwardness of the art on the bath scene makes a lot more sense when you look at the art which Gedeon is trying to echo; Rob Liefeld’s original scene has some, er, interesting perspective and scale issues, just for starters.

Nicieza did write Domino’s earlier appearances, so it makes sense to have him here, but this is a weird thing to produce for this issue.  It’s not a Domino story – if it’s anything, it’s a Cable story – and it’s not even particularly about Cable’s feelings on the real Domino.  It’s also totally out of place in the framing story device, which does it no favours.

“Rebound”, by Dennis Hopeless and Leonard Kirk (and Jesus Aburtov, who colours all of the other stories, so I’m not going to keep listing him), checks in on the abortive Domino / Colossus relationship from Hopeless’s run on X-Force.  Hopeless’s take on Domino is fairly close to Gail Simone’s, so this fits in neatly enough; she loves the big guy, but enjoys playing the chaos role and teasing the serious professional at the same time.  It’s basically fine; the plot is a backdrop for the characters to play off each other, and Kirk’s great at the awkward interactions.

Finally, “Domino & The Rejex”, by Leah Williams and Natcha Bustos, tries to balance things out with something of Domino’s more serious side.  Williams also writes the framing sequence (listed in the credits page as “Saturdays are for the Body Count”), which is basically an overcommitted Domino racing from place to place to pull off elaborate and absurd merc gigs; but her actual story takes a different tack.

Domino is meant to be helping out with Nightcrawler’s new support group for “non-passing” mutants, “Mindfulness for Mutant Appearances”.  Most of the story actually consists of highlights of Nightcrawler chairing the inaugural meeting, for which Domino is late.  Depending on how seriously you take this sort of thing, you may be pleased to know that Maggott is apparently alive after all.  More surprising appearances are Kylun from Alan Davis’s Excalibur run, who doesn’t like the villains being there, and Stacy X, who lost her powers after House of M and looks perfectly normal, but showed up anyway looking for some sort of connection with her past life.

Domino herself shows up literally on the last page to deliver a pep talk, which is a weird choice in a Domino story.  It’s not as if the rest of the story is particularly defined by her absence.  But then Williams is already doing Domino in the framing sequence, and there’s something I like about the idea that Domino would be on the fringes of this group; she’s too flaky to run it herself, and seriousness doesn’t come naturally to her as it does to Kurt, but it’s still in there somewhere.  It’s a story that only really works as a Domino story because it’s appearing in this anthology format.

The others… mmm.  The annual doesn’t really hang together as a whole, and it doesn’t feel like we’re getting a bunch of different Domino stories; the Cable thing is just off in a little world of its own, while the Outlaw and Colossus stories are bit too similar in tone to the framing sequence.  Taken as a whole, it has its moments, but it doesn’t click.

Bring on the comments

  1. Taibak says:

    I can’t help feeling bad for Kylun. Alan Davis was obviously fond of the character and made him a big part of his run on [i]Excalibur[/i], so of course he got written out as soon as Davis left the book and when we catch up with him at the end of the series we find he’s spent the whole time watching television and doing laundry. Sad, really.

  2. Voord 99 says:

    Well, from a certain perspective, that’s not sad at all. Appearing in comics means having terrible things happen to one.

    Which brings to my question. I wasn’t reading during the ‘90s, so Domino is a character where there is a big gap in my knowledge. How precisely has her power been defined?

    In particular, how does it define what counts as “good” luck for her, beyond very obvious things like not allowing someone to shoot her? Given the way in which events are interconnected, there are some implications that one could play with about how vast and sprawling sequences of cause and effect are happening all over the world and being co-ordinated to create outcomes that are dictated by an amoral power that “cares” only about (its version of) Domino’s wellbeing. Right now in Jakarta, a person is dying in a car accident so that three weeks from now in New York, Domino has time to grab a coffee on a busy morning.

  3. Richard Larson says:

    I don’t think it’s ever been particularly well defined. It usually comes across as things just happening so they work out for her. There was one short story where the power was defined as a low level psychokinetic power which subconsciously pushed things into place. That might keep some of the effects of using her power more localized than what you are thinking of. However, your idea that her power is creating a butterfly effect with implications for many others is interesting. Since how her power works out doesn’t seem to have a consistent reason for working that could be a way to look at it. And it would be the same idea for Longshot and Black Cat. Come to think of it, have we ever seen characters with competing good luck powers go at it? That could create a really big web of unintended consequences.

  4. Voord 99 says:

    Even if it’s localized, that it’s not under her control has some interesting implications, or possible ones, at any rate.

    Because is Domino’s power “selfish”? Does it “care” if a small child in the vicinity takes the bullet that was meant for her?

    What’s it like to be around someone like that? The decision-making processes in your brain shouldn’t be exempt from this – are you constantly making decisions when you’re near Domino that, OK, you might have made anyway, but which are actually being made in Domino’s power’s version of her best interest?

    Or, if it’s doing what her subconscious would define as “good” (for Domino), that could be interesting. Everyone has nasty stuff in their subconscious – who would want a power that allowed all that free rein, even if your conscious self didn’t want it?

    Hearing about the psychokinetic explanation, I’m not a fan. Domino’s power, from what I’ve seen, *looks* like things that reasonably, but very, very improbably, might have happened anyway. I.e. it’s presented as if it’s manipulating causality on a metaphysical level, not just moving things around. That’s much more weird and fun (to me, anyway) than it just being telekinesis that pretends it’s not there.

  5. SanityOrMadness says:

    Well, Simone appears to have a view more similar to yours – that her power kicking in in #2 (after being temporarily supressed) led to Spider-Man randomly swinging by to save her (in the wrong city, yet!)… well…

  6. Mark Coale says:

    Has Domino ever fought The Black Cat?

    Would their powers cancel each other out?

  7. wwk5d says:

    Honestly, with characters like Domino, it’s best not to overthink how their powers work. Otherwise, you end with John Byrne over-explaining how the Scarlet Witch’s powers work, which leads to…nothing good.

    For me, it’s just simple. If she is aware something bad is about to happen to her, her power and triggered and she luckily avoids whatever the bad about to happen her is. Or she gets lucky in trying to accomplish something.

    Wondering if it is going to affect reality via some butterfly effect just over-complicates it all.

  8. Evilgus says:

    I like people’s thinking here. For me, stories should rooted in character, and exploring the impact of their powers should be part of that. (I think the success of the X-Men under Claremont was that the metaphor wasn’t be all end all, but focussed on who these people were).

    Look at how Multiple Man’s previous series dealt with exploring facets of personality, or some of the best Storm stories explore her connection to her weather powers (or when those are lost). There should be more of this in the main series – it’s increasingly rare to find though. They are also quite simple and effective..

  9. Thom H. says:

    That’s interesting — does she have to be aware of the bad thing that’s about to happen to her? Or is her power able to ward off bad things that she doesn’t know about?

    I don’t know that much about Domino, so maybe she’s taken out by a club to the back of the head on a fairly regular basis. If she’s able to “luck” her way out of that, though, then her power might be making decisions on its own, as Voord suggests.

  10. Voord 99 says:

    Honestly, with characters like Domino, it’s best not to overthink how their powers work. Otherwise, you end with John Byrne over-explaining how the Scarlet Witch’s powers work, which leads to…nothing good.

    I’m not interested in Byrne-style crossing the i’s and dotting the t’s in the interests of “explaining” things for their own sake.

    But I am interested in the human implications of what it might be [i]like[/i] to have a particular power. What would it mean to have things constantly happen around you that were for your benefit, but might not be for your idea of what your benefit was, or might cause bad things to happen to other people that you didn’t want?

    Or what would it be like to be around someone like that – to know that, as long as you did, you were effectively living in a world ruled by a God who didn’t care about anything except Domino?

    The way you lay it out is fine as far as creating visually interesting fight scenes goes. I don’t mean that dismissively – that’s a central part of the appeal of reading superhero comics. But there are certain kinds of stories that it shuts off.

  11. Brian says:

    I want to see the mutant whose power is to have terrible luck, to have the wrong thing always happen to him (not in a way that would end up killing him, just in a way that always embarrasses, injures, and otherwise costs him), as a universal karmic balance to all the heroes with good luck powers. He’d invariably become a supervillian to fight them after losing everything else…but never even be noticed, as his plans of vengeance go terribly awry before they can even get properly started (tripping over a power cord, unplugging his death ray and knocking himself out before he can record his ransom video, etc.).

  12. Moo says:

    Her powers aren’t very cinematic.

  13. Odessasteps says:

    “Her powers aren’t very cinematic”

    Not sure if this is sarcastic, but I thought they did a good job in the chase scene in the Deadpool movie of showing her “luck” at work.

  14. Daibhid C says:

    Brian: Leading inevitably to an enemy-of-my-enemy team-up with Domino in the face of a bigger villain (whom he’s unluckily got on the wrong side of), and their powers cancelling out as long as their goals are roughly aligned – and once he realises that he wants to keep being on Domino’s side, and she, obviously, doesn’t.

  15. Taibak says:

    Mark: Domino hasn’t, but Longshot has. And, yes, their powers cancelled out.

  16. Evilgus says:

    On characters with nebulous powers, are there any whose misfortune power is just to be utterly, terribly boring??

  17. ASV says:

    Maybe that guy whose power was to be immediately forgotten?

  18. Chris J says:

    Who was that guy again? I forget.

  19. Nu-D says:

    “Or, if it’s doing what her subconscious would define as “good” (for Domino), that could be interesting. Everyone has nasty stuff in their subconscious – who would want a power that allowed all that free rein, even if your conscious self didn’t want it?”

    This is a perfect hook for Peter David to run with.

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