Friday, March 26, 2010

DOMINO #1-#3, January-March 1997

Rise and Fall

Credits: Ben Raab (writer), David Perrin (penciler), Harry Candelario (inker), Richard Starkings & Comicraft (letters), Joe Rosas (colors)

This is gratuitous X-miniseries #4,759 if you’re keeping track at home. I initially found it odd that Ben Raab, a writer who never touched the character was assigned a Domino mini, but then I remembered that she had only been written by Fabian Nicieza and Jeph Loeb in the past, and neither writer was around the X-office at this time (Loeb was leaving Cable and X-Force, and Nicieza was heading Acclaim Comics, I believe). Raab has decided to pick up on the hints that Domino was once married by introducing her ex-husband Milo Thurman. Milo is a brilliant scientist who can predict future events with almost one hundred percent accuracy, which means he’s being kept in a generic government holding facility with Henry Gyrich acting as his overlord. Domino learns all of this from Puck, who just happens to visit her in Carnavale after she’s attacked by another tiny tough guy, Pico. Pico is the forgotten henchman who worked for Tolliver back in X-Force #14. A lot of the material from the early issues of X-Force was dropped pretty quickly, which is understandable since much of it was terrible, but I think Pico is a reasonable villain to use for an opening sequence. His presence at least assures the reader that Raab is familiar with Domino’s past (although I believe he was officially dead, and even had a "sworn to vengeance" brother). Puck is there, I guess, to be the token “established character you didn’t know the mysterious X-character already knew.” He learned about Milo while snooping around Department H files. (It’s odd that he’s telling Domino about Milo, yet he doesn’t seem to know they have a past together. It’s quite a coincidence that the mercenary he asks to free an imprisoned man was once married to him.) Domino arrives to break Milo out of the facility, only to discover Lady Deathstrike waiting for her.

Now, why exactly is Domino in her own book? There is the justification that she was an established character with almost no backstory, so there’s a lot of room to explore. That could partially be the reason, but I imagine the ‘90s “Bad Girl” trend had a lot to do with this. Domino’s introduced in this story at the Carnavale festival, dressed in a string bikini that she doesn’t change out of until the end of the issue. Raab throws a few lines in acknowledging that this isn’t truly in-character and that she’s blowing off steam during a vacation, but you can’t deny this is gratuitous cheesecake. David Perrin is a much better artist than many of the guys working for Marvel during this era, so at least she actually looks human, unlike most of the females who used to populate Top Ten lists in the back of Wizard.

Death Be a Lady Tonight!

Credits: Ben Raab (writer), David Perrin (penciler), Harry Candelario (inker), Richard Starkings & Comicraft (letters), Joe Rosas & Heroic Age (colors)

Lady Deathstrike and Domino spend much of the issue fighting, as a few cutaway scenes and flashbacks flesh out the story. It’s revealed Donald Pierce was behind Pico and Deathstrike’s attacks on Domino, and the kidnapping of Milo. For some reason, he wants to turn Milo into a cyborg. Pierce, and Skullbuster of the Reavers, are also alive for unknown reasons. I always thought the Reavers’ death scene in UXM #281 was horribly cheap and pointless, so I can’t complain about Raab resurrecting them. However, they really have nothing to do with Domino, do they?

The flashbacks reveal that Domino met Milo ten years earlier when she worked as a guard at the facility. He seduced her and the pair fell in love. We learn that Milo is actually in prison legitimately, as he used his knack for calculating probabilities to hack into government databases. Puck claimed in the previous issue that Milo was a target for extermination, which is never elaborated on. If he meant that the government now wants Milo dead, there’s no explanation in the story detailing why, and I don’t know how he would’ve learned of Pierce’s kidnapping plans by reading Milo’s Department H files. As it turns out, Pierce doesn’t want to kill Milo anyway. More plot holes ahead in the third issue…

Hard Luck!

Credits: Ben Raab (writer), David Perrin (penciler), Harry Candelario (inker), Richard Starkings & Comicraft (letters), Joe Rosas & Heroic Age (colors)

The setting moves to the abandoned Weapon X facility, where Donald Pierce has set up shop. There’s no specific reason to bring Weapon X into this, and the story just ends with the facility exploding anyway (which also happened in the Maverick one-shot from this era; in fairness this is described as a Weapon X “installation,” so there’s the possibility that more than one exists). Pierce reveals that he wants Milo to join the Reavers, which will allow his massive intellect to live forever as a cyborg. Pierce thinks that Milo’s mind will allow him to rule the world, and he decides Domino would also make a good candidate for the Reavers. Domino of course escapes and defeats the Reavers, but Milo declares that it’s too late to save him. Pierce has been downloading his intellect into a computer, which has somehow left him near-death. Domino says goodbye and blows up the facility, although Pierce has apparently escaped with the download of Milo’s intellect.

So, what exactly is resolved in the final issue? Not much. In a flashback, Milo refers to Domino as his “wife” in quotes, which is logical since a guard probably wouldn’t marry a prisoner in custody. However, this doesn’t exactly work with Domino’s previous references to her ex-husband, so it’s hard to declare this a resolution to the old mystery. How did Pierce survive Fitzroy’s attack? He claims that he never died; that Fitzroy kidnapped him to steal data from his hard drive, then exchanged him to a mystery being. The “mystery benefactor” restored Pierce to health and sent him on a new, vague mission. Raab doesn’t reveal the benefactor’s identity, and I have a suspicion no one has followed up on this, or on the data Fitzroy took from Pierce’s hard drive. And, c’mon, Pierce was clearly dead in those UXM issues (wasn’t Fitzroy showing off Pierce’s decapitated head at one point?). Now, why did Pierce hire Pico in the first issue? He claims he wanted to keep Domino away from Milo, but she fought Pico before Puck gave her the info on Milo.

So, there are a few plot problems, and the introduction of more mysteries we didn’t really need. However, the story does get some mileage out of Domino’s luck powers, and Raab doesn’t wuss out with the ending. Milo tells Domino he loves her shortly before he dies, but she only responds with “I know.” The story makes it clear that she feels the same way, but Raab stays true to her character and doesn’t allow Domino to give in to any sentimentality. I’ll also compliment Perrin’s art, which looks much closer to 1980’s John Byrne than the manga and Jim Lee knockoffs of the ‘90s. The X-office should’ve used him more during these days.


Jeff said...

I've always liked Domino. This series sounds kind of "meh" but if that is Perrin's art on the cover, he does look pretty solid. The best use of Domino, ever, is in New X-Men Annual 2001 by Grant Morrison.

Matt said...

I've never read this mini, but I had always assumed it explained Pierce's resurrection since, as you point out, he was pretty clearly dead when we last saw him. I'm disappointed to learn this wasn't covered (well).

And speaking of not well-covered, what's up with Domino's outfit? I'm all for a little gratuitous skin, but she's never struck me as the "bare midriff" type. I like the costume she's wearing on the cover of issue 1 much better than 2-3!

wwk5d said...

The funny thing about Pierce and some of the others returning...I always thought certain people at Marvel thought "The Image guys killed off some decent villains, and we got the Upstarts and Externals in return? What were we thinking?" But yeah, pretty shoddy return, especially since it was one of the deaths where we saw the, head. Then again, that hasn't stopped Marvel before lol

SpaceSquid said...

"It’s odd that he’s telling Domino about Milo, yet he doesn’t seem to know they have a past together. It’s quite a coincidence that the mercenary he asks to free an imprisoned man was once married to him."

Good point. Do we know anyone involved who can subconsciously manipulate coincidence? ;)

Anonymous said...

I think, with a few tweaks to the plot, a couple of character shifts, and some more fleshing out of some of the characters, and this could be a pretty decent story. I think I'll do so for my next fancast. Some things I'll do will be switching out Puck for G.W. Bridge, and switching out Donald Pierce with the Black Spectre organization. What do you think?

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