Writer: Gail Simone
Artist: David Baldéon
Colors: Jesus Aburtov
Letters: Virtual Calligraphy’s Clayton Cowles
Cover artists: Greg Land (regular)/Elsa Charretier, David Baldéon, J. Scott Campbell and Rob Liefeld (variants)
Editor: Chris Robinson
Publisher: Marvel Entertainment
Price: $3.99 US
I was torn when it came to the decision to purchase this comic book. I’ve been a big fan of writer Gail Simone for years, but when it comes to Rob Liefeld creations such as Domino, I generally have zero interest in them (though some writers, such as Simone, have convinced me otherwise with runs on Deadpool in the past). A retailer friend raved about the first issue of Domino online Tuesday, so I decided to trust in his recommendation and my faith in Simone’s skills. While her trademark humor definitely offers some appeal here, the character’s original quality as an empty vessel, crafted only as a Kewl concept when she arose in the early 1990s, still appears to haunt the property. There’s a lot of fun action here, but little in the way of characterization.
Domino’s been working as a mercenary again, in concert with a couple of fellow costumed partners, and the trio has been taking jobs of a more altruistic nature (albeit still profitable). But all work and no play makes Domino a dull girl, and fortunately, her friends have something planned for her to mark a special occasion. Meanwhile, what Domino doesn’t know is that something has targeted her as part of an unknown vendetta.
David Baldéon’s style is quite comparable to that of Humberto (Champions) Ramos, and that sort of exaggerated approach works well with the comedic and action-oriented qualities of the book. For the most part, Baldéon doesn’t sexualize the female protagonists too much, save for Outlaw (whose costume consists mainly of a cowboy hat, fringe vest, bra and a pair of Daisy Dukes) and an irksome scene toward the end of the issue (see below). I was quite taken with the flowing and unconventional design for the third member of Domino’s team. The art was a bit confusing during the opening scene, as it wasn’t immediately apparent that the hostage in the scene was the one who transformed into the unexpected threat, but the script clears it up in short order.
Marvel’s proclivity for multiple variant covers for just about every new title it launches is incredibly tiresome, though I can only assume it continues to dump these extra editions into the marketplace because it works for them (at least for short-term gains). What’s befuddling to me is that only one of the six covers for this comic book is the least bit striking, and that’s Elsa Charretier’s wonderful Steranko-esque spy-genre image. The rest of the cover images are either forgettable or sadly objectify the title heroine.
With the inclusion of mercenary partners Outlaw and another established badass female character (who will appeal to longtime comics readers who enjoyed the late Mark Gruenwald’s memorable run on Captain America), there’s a dynamic at play in this book that parallels that from DC’s Birds of Prey, a title that cemented Simone’s reputation in super-hero comics years ago. While the comparison is clear, the nature of these protagonists is rather different, as they’ve been villains in the past, or at least anti-heroes. While I loved Simone’s run on BoP, she would be well-advised to avoid mirroring that work on Domino.
Where the creators lost me with this first issue is with the final scene — not because the notion that Domino’s home could be so easily infiltrated while a throng of super-powered heroes and mercenaries were there, but because of how the title character is depicted. Domino has always been treated as eye-candy, and my hope was that trend would end with this new series. But instead, she’s sexualized by being shown in her lacy bra and panties, trying to relax and decompress in her own home. It doesn’t say “comfort,” but rather “come hither,” but to the reader and no one else. It’s unnecessary and illogical.
The real problem with this inaugural issue, though, lies in the fact that I don’t have a sense of who the title character is, other than someone who’s tormented by her own powers and the ill effects that accompany them. The script dwells on Domino’s powers almost exclusively. It’s not even entirely clear how she got to be a mutant mercenary or who tattooed the black dot around her left eye (or why). Sure, we’re introduced to the characters driving the main conflict, but what Domino’s inner journey might be is left largely unsaid. 6/10