When last we left X-Force, Domino was chasing her Dominoppelganger across the world, attempting to restore her diminished luck powers. This issue: the hunt is on.
Oscar Bazaldua (Art), Joe Caramagna (Letterer), Edgar Delgado (Cover), Guru-eFX (Colors), Tom Muller (Design), Benjamin Percy (Writer), Dustin Weaver (Cover)
February 26, 2020
I’m…frustrated by Domino. As a character, and as a luck-based character specifically, she seems very put-upon. Obviously this is not entirely improper; when the pawn hits the conflict, etc. What I mean is, she’s always felt a bit separate from the rest of the mutant franchise; she’s been members of various incarnations of X-Force but never felt specifically a part of them so much as floating on the margins. Because of that, and because of her nature as a character, she often ends up having to face seemingly existential threats more or less on her own.
They are existential, make no mistake; I mentioned Gail Simone’s Domino series last time, and it’s relevant here for the same reasons still. Both that book and this one feature plots in which Domino finds her luck-based abilities waning, nearly to the point of non-functionality, in fact. In Simone’s book, it was another person, someone with whom she apparently shared a reserve of luck, and who opted to stake his claim on that resource. Here, though, it’s Domino herself. Or, parts of her, anyway. You will note that this is in fact the second arc of this book to be explicitly about the torture and harvesting she was subjected to, and while I certainly understand and appreciate the slow build of a larger villain, I have to say that I’m a little bit weary of this particular character being dragged through the muck.
In this issue, the reveal is made that the anti-Domino she’s chasing is not the only individual bearing her DNA; the organization that took her prisoner has a new lab and has made many, many clones with the samples of her they have on hand. Domino enlists some help in dealing with this, specifically
Jubilee Sage and Colossus. Things go more or less according to plan, and the plot moves apace.
What sticks with me here though are the mechanics; both the villain of her solo series and her clones here seem to diminish her in-born mutant abilities by merely existing; this isn’t a proximity based dampening like it is with Leech, but a phenomenon that occurs regardless of distance. The implication here is that her luck (and hers specifically) is a finite resource; something that she can run out of. First, I am not sure I enjoy this concept; while the chaos factor of mutant genetics makes it possible, even probable, that such limitations on a mutant ability might occur, I can’t help but note that of two prominent luck-based characters associated with the X-Men franchise, it’s the woman that this has happened to twice now. Additionally, this creates the conundrum that she could potentially be stripped of her mutant abilities on a permanent basis; something that her luck powers merely existing in the first place should preclude. Except of course that it seems that luck is on the side of plots like this one being leveled against her.
There were other things I enjoyed quite a bit here, too. In particular, Bazaldua’s panel layouts are fun and do a lot to propel the action scenes of the issue. The book’s creative team is unchanged from last time, which I do like, for all my complaining about the details of the plot. I don’t mind books switching artists at all, but I do enjoy when an entire team can deliver a consistently written, drawn, and colored story arc; it makes that arc feel complete in a way that little else can. The data pages here are shaping up, too. Whereas before they were anonymous, they’re now (the journal entries, at least) labeled as Beast’s, a choice that seems obvious in hindsight given the mildly presumptive and self-superior tone of them. The other is an agenda for the Quiet Council, about the discussion of a recreational gathering place for its citizens. Presumably, the bonfire orgy, while fun, lacks many other compelling diversions. I enjoy in particular Forge being an ultra-masculine gym bro encouraging all of mutant kind to give the rest of the world “a hot ass to chase.” Similarly, Black Tom subjecting the Council to a description of his bowel movements is a delightful concept; I can’t help but imagine each member reacting to that.
But for my main issue with this book: It’s not that I think Domino deserves fairer treatment—although she has had it rougher than most since the start of the Krakoan paradigm—it’s that I can’t really think of another instance of a mutant with a finite power. Certainly there are mutants who can run out of power; Havok for instance is a solar battery, and batteries can run dry. But Havok can recharge in a way that Domino would seem unable to, were this specific attack vector attempted on her a third time, and as they say, the third time is often the charm. Here’s hoping the odds stay in her favor.