X-Force has not been kind to Domino, thus far. With X-Force #7, it doesn’t look like the odds are going to be tipping in her favor any time soon.
Bazaldua (Art), Joe Caramagna (Letterer), Edgar Delgado (Cover), Guru-eFX (Colors), Tom Muller (Design), Benjamin Percy (Writer), Dustin Weaver (Cover)
February 12, 2020
As…well, luck would have it, I’m one of the readers who pulled Gail Simone’s Domino for the entirety of its run. It was a light, fun book that played with lesser-used characters in Marvel canon, a stress-free, popcorn-munching experience. Going from that to X-Force, I was not very much of a fan of the way she was used to start the book; reducing one of Marvel’s most capable women to a damsel-in-distress felt like a regressive move, especially as the rescue team was male. Additionally, given the nature of her powers et, it seemed implausible that her situation would become so dire. I’ve been patient about my concerns with that plot point, though, because writer Benjamin Percy has meticulously been answering every other question I’ve had regarding the series.
It turns out that something is affecting Domino’s luck. What isn’t immediately clear, but the part I especially find interesting is the idea that there is a finite quality to her luck. My mention of Simone’s Domino wasn’t happenstance; this was a plot point there too, making it the second time in just a few years that she’s “lost” her mutant power. The vagueness of luck as a mutant power aside, Domino’s doesn’t work like, say, Longshot’s; there are rules for how and when his functions, and when it stops, it’s because he’s not acting altruistically; in other words he can’t use it for his own gain. Domino, on the other hand, absolutely can, and last time she lost it, it was because it was taken from her by a kind of polar opposite; as her luck got worse, his got better. It may be that the luck itself is an infinite wellspring, but there are still apparently limitations on how many people can wield it. Furthermore, that limitation appears to be…one.
At any rate, for all that he’s putting her through the ringer, I get the sense that Percy genuinely likes Domino, he punishes her in the way that authors often punish their favorite characters; each hardship is a crucible. As much as the reader in me dislikes the way she’s been treated, the critic in me appreciates what’s being done here. Domino as a character is being pushed, and while we don’t know what the eventual outcome of that will be, it’s refreshing to see her meet that challenge head on in this issue; when confronted with this loss of her luck, she enlists the aid of Sage to find out where it’s gone, then hatches a plan to confront the thief. Of course, since she’s not very lucky, that plan doesn’t quite work. It’s a great example of dicey (heh) stakes without specifically the threat of imminent death; there is a tension in wondering how she’ll manage to overcome this challenge without the thing on which she most relies. When the new era of X-Men was introduced, this was the promise—remove death as a threat, and grow into new ways of raising stakes.
X-Force #7 features a guest artist for this issue; Bazaldua steps in. I’m actually shocked by how well her style meshes with the current team; I very nearly didn’t even notice the switch. That’s interesting to me! I’m sure some of it is complimentary styles, but it’s at least partially the color work on display; it’s vivid, lurid even, and imbues the book with a consistency of tone and style that does a lot to make it feel like it has the same identity, even with a new artist. Bazaldua herself is not an artist I’ve heard of before, and that seems a shame; she’s good with panels, she’s good with lineart, and she’s good with visual storytelling. I really like what she’s done here, and I’d like to see more.
When I originally read the solicits for this issue, I felt some trepidation; like I said, I’ve read a story like this before! Still, for all that it holds some similar elements, Percy’s take feels fresh. Unlike her ongoing, this Domino is grounded in the world of Krakoa and the X-Men, grounded in the events she’s endured since Dawn of X started, and with a foot planted in each of those places, it feels like she’s ready to launch in a new direction.