Gail Simone (Writer), David Baldeón (Artist), Jesus Aburtov (Colours), Clayton Cowles (Letters)
April 11, 2018
Nenna “Domino” Thurman has been gunning her way across the Marvel Universe since 1992, but the big screen debut of the supersoldier-turned-mercenary in the upcoming Deadpool 2 is set to give her profile a considerable boost. What better time, then, to give Domino her own ongoing comic series?
Domino #1 places the mutant merc’s adventures into the hands of writer Gail Simone and the artistic team of illustrator David Baldeón and colourist Jesus Aburtov. The creative team brings a good helping of humour to the heroine’s exploits, something announced when the comic opens on a full-page panel of an adorable puppy – Domino’s birthday present, from friends who want to bring out a new side to the steel-hearted gunwoman. Baldeón and Aburtov complement this tone by setting the story in a world of bright colours and wide eyes, similar to Amanda Conner’s cartoonish work on Harley Quinn.
As the start of a new series, the issue has three targets: first, to work as the opening chapter in an ongoing story; second, to introduce its protagonist to a new readership; and third, to keep established fans happy by placing its story firmly within the established Marvel landscape – specifically, the quarter with the conspicuous X-branding. These are the issue’s main goals, but they are not necessarily goals of equal import. Domino #1, it is safe to say, treats the third target as its priority.
Taking place on Domino’s birthday, the issue works in various X-Persons as party guests. Fellow femmes fatales Outlaw and Diamondback are firmly established as Domino’s co-stars, while Deadpool, Dazzler, Agent X and others pad out the supporting cast. Meanwhile, the dialogue acknowledges recent occurrences in the comic’s sister titles by mentioning Colossus’s engagement to Kitty Pryde and Jubilee’s status as “not a Dracula or whatever anymore.”
This hearty round of shared-universe base-touching takes place between an opening action sequence and the climactic arrival of villainess Topaz. But while all of this has its charms, an important element has gone missing amidst the box-checking: a cohesive, impactful, who-she-is-and-why-you’ll-love-her re-establishment of Domino as series protagonist.
Let’s start with how the issues handle Domino’s superpower. Her mutant ability can be quickly summed up as sheer luck: when she enters a battle, good things are liable to happen to her, while bad things are liable to happen to her foes. As she says to a group of gunmen, “if you fire, you’ll miss. Or your weapon will jam. Or a blimp will land on your heads. I don’t really control it. Could be anything.” Given the comedic tone of the comic, this is a concept with plenty of potential. But the one time the power manifests is disappointingly flat: Domino trips at the right time to narrowly avoid a truck running her over, which is the sort of thing that could happens to absolutely any given action hero. The issue actually ends with Domino losing her power, which does rather raise the question of what the series intends to do with her gimmick.
In terms of characterisation, the story captures Domino as she is being tugged by her friends from cold-blooded brooder to fun-loving party girl. But as with her powers, this is something the reader is told about rather than shown. Domino is written as a snarky wise-cracker on both sides of the surprise birthday party intended to draw her out of her shell, with little to distinguish her from all the other snarky wisecrackers in comicdom.
All of this is a bit of a shame, as Domino #1 is a punchy, well-structured piece of comic storytelling. As testified by her work on Deadpool and Secret Six, Gail Simone has a knack for bringing humour and heart to the exploits of antiheroes, and in Domino she shows her ability to indulge in silliness about puppies and birthday parties without descending into inanity. The series looks as though it will be one worth keeping an eye on. As a vehicle for re-establishing its main character, though, Domino #1 misses a few too many tricks.