Welcome, dear readers, to X-Men: Bland Design, the weekly multi-part recap column that strives to answer the question: “What if Ed Piskor had no art skills, a juvenile sense of humor, and less classic material to work with?”
It’s been a rough decade or so for X-Men fans. As part of Ike Perlmutter‘s feud with Fox over the Fantastic Four movie rights, Marvel’s greatest franchise has suffered many an indignity. Cyclops turned into a villain by writers and editors with a Wolverine fetish. The worst crossover of all time, Avengers vs. X-Men. A serious attempt to replace mutants with the Inhumans, thankfully killed by the god-awful Inhumans TV show. Greg Land. But that’s all over now (except for Land). With a Marvel/Fox deal on the horizon, the Fantastic Four can return, but more importantly, Marvel can give a crap about the X-Men again!
Each week, we aim to recap what happened in all of the X-books, make a few jokes, and struggle to survive the experience as we reckon our love for our favorite characters with what can often feel like a “quantity-over-quality” approach to comic booking.
Last week, we didn’t have time to recap the X-books due to all the C2E2 news we had to cover, which means we’ve got to catch up. To do that, we’ve got to read and recap 13 — yes, 13 — X-books in one weekend. Is that even possible? We’re about to find out!
Gail Simone (W) • DAVID BALDEON (A)
Cover by Greg Land & Frank D’armata
VARIANT COVER BY J. SCOTT CAMPBELL
VARIANT COVER BY ELSA CHARRETIER
VARIANT COVER BY ROB LIEFELD
VARIANT COVER BY DAVID BALDERON
ACTION FIGURE VARIANT COVER BY JOHN TYLER CHRISTOPHER
BAD LUCK AND TROUBLE Part 1
Impossible curves. Impossible shots. Impossible targets. Marvel’s #1 soldier of fortune is back in an explosive new ongoing series! The product of a failed super-soldier program, Neena Thurman always made her own luck as the sharpshooting mercenary known as Domino… but what happens when her own powers betray her? The hunter becomes the hunted as every mercenary in the game smells blood in the water! Plus: A pair of beloved Marvel characters return!
32 PGS./Rated T+ …$3.99
The issue starts with Domino talking to a pug dog with a spot over its eye similar to her own. Domino rattles off all the reasons she should bring it back to the shelter she got it from, but the overgrown rat is too cute, and she decides to keep it. It’s her birthday.
We flashback 15 hours to the woods in the Pacific Northwest United States, where Domino and Crazy Inez have been hired by a logging company that’s been feuding with the mob, resulting in loggers being kidnapped or killed. Domino and Inez find the camp of Russian gang members and Domino attacks, and Domino takes a few panels to explain how her luck powers work through X-pository dialog. And just like that, we’re sure we’re going to like this book a lot.
Before Domino can begin kicking ass, a hostage gains her attention and hands her a broken domino.
And then he transforms into a giant werewolf and attacks. Domino takes this as another opportunity to further explain how her powers work, almost as if the creative team understands that this might be the first time someone is reading a Domino book. Shocking, we know.
Inez knocks Domino out of the way of some bullets and then tosses here, fastball special style, at the thugs, but the werewolf thing is creeping up behind her. Turns out it’s a mutant named Greywing, whom we’ve never heard of, but Google tells us is a character from Moon Knight. He surrenders under thread of having his were-balls shot by Domino, and reveals he was hired by someone named Topaz. X-pository dialogue also reveals that Domino and Inez have a third partner, who has blown up a truckload of escaping goons.
It’s Diamondback, and she arrives to give the girls and their captive a ride back to San Francisco. Domino lets Greywing crash at her safe house, feeling bad for him. But there’s a surprise waiting for them at the safe house. Not the bad kind. The good kind.
Deadpool is there, not the first person we’d invite to a party to be honest, but he’s in charge of the music. He managed to book Dazzler, who is playing birthday parties in the twilight of her career, apparently. Disco truly is dead.
Domino is moved by the show of affection from her friends, and by Dazzler’s music, but it gives her a headache and she abruptly leaves so she can have a brief flashback summarizing how she’s suffered in the past because of being a mutant. Then she decides to get wasted.
Domino and Diamondback head out to the rooftop to watch a fireworks show put on by Dazzler, who is breaking out all the stops for this gig. Domino is feeling pretty emotional about how good a friend Diamondback is being, and that’s before Diamondback gives her that pug puppy we met earlier as a gift. His name is Pip.
Diamondback leaves Domino alone with the dog and meets up with Deadpool, who delivers some X-position about Topaz, who is apparently not someone to mess with. Meanwhile, Domino is chilling in bed with a dog in her underwear when an old man with a walker and a mean-looking redheaded woman enters her room, something Domino is less upset about than we’d be. He reveals to Domino that they share a birthday, and gives her a gift…
The redhead is the mysterious Topaz, and she attacks, beating the crap out of Domino while the party continues outside her bedroom. Topaz steals Domino’s power somehow, the one she kept talking about all issue long, and then tosses her out her high-rise window, Watchmen style. Now that’s a cliffhanger!
Out of the gate, this book has made a serious effort to do the things we’re always complaining that X-books don’t do anymore: explain the characters, explain their powers, stop acting like everyone reads every comic book with Wikipedia open so they can figure out what’s going on. This X-book’s a keeper!