Domino Annual #1 Review

by Charles Martin on September 26, 2018

Domino Annual #1 Review
"Dead Drunk in Dry Gulch"
(the one with Outlaw)
Writer: Gail Simone
Artist: Victor Ibáñez
Colourist: Jay David Ramos

"The Good Fight"
(the one with Cable)
Writer: Fabian Nicieza
Artist: Juan Gedeon
Colourist: Jesus Aburtov

(the one with Colossus)
Writer: Dennis Hopeless
Artist: Leonard Kirk
Colourist: Jesus Aburtov

"Domino & The Rejex"
(the one with Nightcrawler)
Writer: Leah Williams
Artist: Natacha Bustos
Colourist: Jesus Aburtov

"Saturdays Are for the Body Count"
(the frame story)
Writer: Leah Williams
Artist: Michael Shelfer
Colourist: Jesus Aburtov

Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Publisher: Marvel Comics

Whew, still with us after that credits block? There's a lot of talented folks collaborating on this book, and they all deserve recognition. This is not quite plot-essential to Domino's ongoing story, but it's a ton of fun.

The frame story is all about Domino's Very Busy Saturday. She has three mercenary gigs (including a pro bono job) and "a thing" to take care of. Reminiscing along the way provides us with an even mix: Two flashback strips and two contemporary ones.

The first flashback is The Time Domino Met Outlaw, and it is ridiculously awesome. It comes with another brilliant demonstration of Domino's luck in action as well as some impressive brawling on Outlaw's part. Outlaw's talked around to the side of the (semi-) angels quick enough, and the story cuts out before it can get to the ladies' first fight together, crushing the asinine Professor Salvage and his Sentinel SUV.

It's smart, acerbic, and fast-paced. The art is very strong: detailed, dynamic, and dead sexy. It doesn't sacrifice realism for pure cheesecakery, but it definitely gets full value from fit women dressed for the summer heat in "Half-Ass-to-Nowhere, Texas."

Next up is Domino's brief reminiscence of Cable, which turns the POV over to Nate and revisits the infamous bathtub they shared very early in their careers. This strip is mainly a continuity joke about how Domino, like many (most?) early X-Force characters, got rather badly derailed by her original creators' passion for Mysterious Origins. Oh, the 90s, you were a such a gloriously juvenile time for comics!

Domino's Saturday progresses to trying to cheer the jilted Colossus up by arranging a Crimson Dynamo fight for him. It's sublime and ridiculous and fun. In order to add depth to the limited number of pages, it pulls that trick where the protagonist's narrative captions wander off from the action in the panels. 

This strategy sometimes causes more problems than it solves, but it works very well here. Neena's words add context and insight and background for her relationship with Colossus. They also run the risk of distracting you from the excellent artwork - this story's visuals deserve as much attention as the words.

The final strip is Domino's "other thing," a special meet-up with Nightcrawler and some very interesting mutants, the Rejex. I don't want to go into too much detail. The annual is constructed to make this finale a surprise and that surprise is worth protecting. 

The Rejex strip is full of promise. It has a strong, interesting visual style that's redolent of Mike Allred. For content, it delivers a very au courant take on outcast mutants and provides a spotlight for X-Stacy, AKA Stacy X AKA Ripcord AKA "Hooker-X" AKA "Wow, X-history has a lot of bad character ideas we need to revisit and redeem."

While I like the Rejex strip - it's a strong pitch for a Rejex series by Leah Williams and Natacha Bustos - it lacks what I consider an essential component. To make a story, you have to show somebody making a decision. The Rejex strip doesn't do this; neither does the Cable strip. Length is probably the go-to excuse; it's tough to build context and show a decision and make it all meaningful when you've got just five pages.

The Colossus and Outlaw stories are excellent contrasts; they do feature meaningful decisions and they're all the better for it. (And the Colossus story clocks in at just five pages!) They're the definite highlights of this annual.

Devil's Advocate: While the Rejex strip does not constitute a story in itself, it provides an anchor for the Annual's larger frame story and makes that tale far more satisfying.

Personally, this Annual lands as a bit of a guilt trip. I reviewed Domino #1 when it came out and was strongly in favour of it. Then I totally failed to follow the series. This Annual reminds me that that was a mistake and makes an excellent argument for circling back to check out the fun. (And also subscribing to the future issues!)

Domino's first annual is a fun, fast anthology that captures all of the character's wit. It expands on important relationships and proposes some new ones, too. Words and art are all crafted with the highest skill. This isn't just a reward for faithful Domino readers; it's a very engaging invitation for newbies to come aboard.

Our Score:


A Look Inside


Charles Martin's picture
Grab your decoder rings, True Believers! Doop is one of the Rejex and he graces us with a panel of gobbledygook in need of deciphering.