I first noticed Domino on the cover of New Mutants #98. Her eerie pale skin and black eyepatch made her a striking figure crouched in a corner next to Deadpool and Gideon. But comic book funds were hard to come by when I was eleven so I did not pick that book up. I came for the X-men, so I bought the X-men and was whisked away from a crowded mansion by Lila Cheney (*Uncanny X-Men #273).
The Domino of then seemed a little more road worn than other comic women of the time, but she was also a top heavy sharp-shooting mercenary cliché when it came to her personality. Full of sass with a mysterious past, she had way too many pouches on her belt and was your typical bad-girl with big guns and improbable gymnastic skill. But this was a clone named Copycat, the real Domino was going through some changes by the time I knew her, so she was quite literally a whole other person.
I knew Domino best during her time with X-Force in the following years. By then my babysitting jobs started to afford more trips to the comic book store. I saw something of myself in Domino while she was with the team since we were both left in charge of some wild kids, but she emerged from the trope into a sarcastic babysitter whose cool headed attitude and tough love made her a perfect den mother for the young team of mutants.
When the kids weren’t looking, Domino was a thrill-seeking, adrenaline-junkie who took every risk her probability manipulation power would afford her. Her intimate knowledge of life on the edge made Domino a calming influence on a New Mexico base full of raging hormones. It was the beginning to a more complete picture of a person rather than just another cliche.
She got a lot of softening up by some writers, and artists, seeming to get younger every year even though she has no healing ability. A few authors took the time to fill in her mysterious past, but Domino as a character suffered as many other female characters have suffered and had only an impression of her own identity, meaning the rest could be added and subtracted by whomever was writing her to fill whatever role they needed, mostly as a love interest for older male characters.
Over the years Domino got other jobs in the Marvel Universe. These new jobs often came with new romantic interests, all of them easily twenty to thirty years Domino’s senior. Cable gave way to Colossus, who then gave way to Wolverine. Whatever else about her may change, Domino definitely has a “type,” but the all of these hyper masculine silver foxes make it painfully obvious to me that Domino’s biggest heartbreak has been a lack of feminine influence or even knowledge.
Here is where a writer like Gail Simone can really shake things up and turn things around for the lucky lady. She and several other fans came together in 1999 to form the website Women in Refrigerators, which was a response to an issue of Green Lantern where the hero’s girlfriend, Alexandra DeWitt, was murdered and left in a refrigerator. The site was dedicated to identifying women who had been used and suffered indignities to serve as a plot device for male characters.
The website brought her into a writing career, first as a contributor for Comic Book Resources with her weekly column You’ll All Be Sorry!, followed by her writing stories for several Bongo Comics series based on The Simpsons. Simone has briefly written for Marvel Comics before, writing Deadpool and the subsequent Agent X before leaving to write Birds of Prey for DC.
Gail Simone has cut her own path to success by zeroing in on readers and potential readers that the comic industry had ignored and dismissed for decades. She has brought a feminine perspective to some of comics leading super ladies like Wonder Woman and Batgirl, and has done so with great critical acclaim. Readers love how she weaves fun, touching, humorous action packed adventures for their favorite heroines, and how those stories reflect the strength and humanity of the characters.
Domino has been on the arm of male characters throughout her superhero career and has luckily escaped a refrigerator fate, but she’s still been used to make a few hard to know male characters a tad more approachable. She’s had an interesting combination of seemingly incongruous traits tacked on to what would seem to be a basic femme fatale, in order for her to suit her masculine partners needs in whatever story writers wanted to tell.
I am excited to see how Gail Simone marries and buries these various tropes to give the character more depth, drive, and relatability. Her series, Domino, is due to be on shelves in April, so start saving your babysitting money!
Image Credits: Marvel Comics