Domino (2nd series) #1

Issue Date: 
June 2003
Story Title: 
Perfect Weapon - part 1

Joe Pruett and Brian Stelfreeze (writers), Joe Pruett (artist), Brian Stelfreeze (colors), John Constanze (letters), Lynne Yoshii (assistant editor), John Miesgaes, Andrew Lis and Lysa Hawkins (editors), Joe Quesada (editor in chief), Bill Jemas (president)
special thanks to Zeb Wells

Brief Description: 

Domino is on a mission in Hong Kong. Abseiling down a skyscraper, she smashes through a window and attacks the six armed men inside using her luck factor to ensure things go her way. She takes them out but not with her usual brevity and a mysterious voice on her communication link prompts her to get the job done a little quicker. She manages to take out five of the men and forces the sixth to reveal the whereabouts of a Petri dish containing some biological spores which could be used in weapons. She takes the dish and escapes from the building before speeding off before the cops manage to capture her. A week later, she delivers the dish to the mystery man, Jonathan, who pays her with a photograph of her mother, a note and a plane ticket after explaining that some of her methods in retrieving the dish were far from ideal. Domino then travels to Atlanta to visit a computer hacker who tells her that her mother is being kept in a very secure place and hands her a disk with the information on it. Unfortunately, the disk is destroyed by a gunshot and the hacker killed as a helicopter gunship attacks them. Domino manages to take out the helicopter with her watch which is also an explosive device and wonders what her mom’s gotten her little girl into. Meanwhile, on a strange mountain, a group of robed men are preparing something which doesn’t bode well for Domino’s future.

Full Summary: 

(day one)

Domino is on a mission in Hong Kong. Wearing a tight-fitting blue costume, backpack, forearm protectors and a pair of sturdy boots as well as an earpiece with a tiny camera attached, she is abseiling down the side of a building and preparing for action. Domino’s mutant ability revolves around luck, odds and percentages. Somehow, things tend to land in her favor and this provides her with a measured degree of confidence when carrying out dangerous assignments; like this one for example. As the rope goes slack, she skips her final checks and falls backwards, landing against the building with assured ease. She is used to life on the edge.

Peering into a window, she spots six suited men which reminds her that this is her first solo gig in a long time. She communicates with someone through her ear-piece’s microphone attachment and asks if she has authorization to commence the operation. The replier confirms visual identification and authorization is granted. Domino thinks that it’s funny that only a few years ago she was heading up a mutant strike force, but hey, it was the nineties - who wasn’t? It feels good to get back to the thrill of mercing, though she has to admit that her luck altering mutation takes away a certain amount of guesswork. She readies her pistol and pushes away from the window. Counting down from four, the first second takes her away from the building, the chances being that the goons inside won’t notice her until it’s too late. The second allows her to take aim and the third see her fire several bullets at the window. Domino guesses the number of rounds she fires will be just enough to crack the glass enough for the fourth to allow her to swing in backwards through the glass and spin inside. If anyone on the other side tries to do her harm, well, it just won’t be their lucky day.

The men inside instinctively reach inside their jackets for their weapons but Domino has the jump on them and fires through a mist of shattering shards of glass. They flail helplessly and papers fly out of an open briefcase but they still manage to fire their weapons. Domino however is simply too quick and too agile for them to cope with. After taking the first of them out, her mysterious contact tells her she is moving too slowly and all five should by now have been accounted for. Landing a clean left on another, she asks if this is fast enough for them. They reply that it is an improvement but she’s still thirty-six seconds behind time. Domino continues to flow through the room, shooting her pistol and using her athleticism to take out the remaining men.

She finally whittles them down to just one, an older gentleman who has the briefcase. She asks where it is and as she points her pistol at his temple, he raises his hands in surrender. He looks petrified and after a brief exchange with Domino in his native language he asks her not to shoot in English. He clicks a button on his desk and a cryogenic unit raises itself from inside it. That old trick, she thinks. Domino’s employer tells her to carefully remove the target from the containment area; it should be shatterproof but there’s no sense of urgency to test that claim. She picks up what appears to be a Petri dish containing three green spores. As she eyes her prize, her employer warns her that there are multiple heat signatures approaching from the outer hallway and tells her to secure and vacate immediately.

As she secretes the dish inside her backpack, she fires at the incoming assailants who are carrying an assortment of weapons, from pistols to machine guns. As Domino confirms she has their target, her employer tells her not to waste time exchanging fire and to just get out of there, initiating maneuver 36-c in three, two, one second. Right on cue, Domino leaps gracefully from the now non-existent window she came through and drifts high above several police cars in the plaza below, still firing her pistol into the building. She is eight hundred feet up and calmly removes a grappling hook from her belt. Now at three hundred feet, she hurls the hook towards a suspended window-cleaning scaffold and it hooks on tight. Just fifteen feet above the ground, she smiles at the police officers as her employer tells her to wait for the recoil. As it snaps the cable tight, she swings away from the officers and releases herself from it mid-swing, somersaulting over a large wall with the company name on it before landing several feet away from a yellow motorbike which her employer tells her they have placed there. She confirms she has a visual and says it better be fast. “The fastest money can buy, over” they reply. Powering the bike up, Domino races away, jumping the assembled police. Her employer tells her that a helicopter is at the pre-determined location and she has eight minutes to reach it or it will leave without her. As she nails the throttle, she replies that she’ll be there in six.

(day four)

Sat in a high-ceilinged room with two of Atlanta’s Peachtree Street’s most impressive hotels behind him, seen in the distance through a high arched window, a man wearing pop-up sunglasses is seated in front of a couple of computer monitors hacking his way into someone’s system, a disk resting by the keyboard. He comes across brick walls preventing his access but using his skill, he manages to break through and, seeing the binary code presented before him says, “Oh my god, I’ve struck the mother lode.”

(day seven)

Overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge on a typical misty day in San Francisco, Domino meets her employer, an unassuming fair-haired man with glasses carrying a silver briefcase. She tosses him the Petri dish and tells him it’s quite a sight. Unimpressed, he tells her that she’s late but she replies, “So sue me. You ever try getting infectious organisms into this country, it ain’t easy.” He places the dish inside his briefcase and says that she may have prevented the potential death of untold thousands (implying the spores were intended for some kind of biological weapon) but she doesn’t really care about that and tells him to skip the morality play, asking him for the agreed upon payment.

Before he coughs up though, he points out that during the assignment there were a few problems. Domino asks what the hell he’s talking about; she was perfection! She came, saw, kicked a little ass and got out and asks him to fault her performance. He replies that the results are fine, it’s the methods he is questioning. In battle she was a hurricane, hurried and violent. He tells her that she should be like the hurricane’s eye instead, calm yet formidable. She wastes so much of her energy in subduing a foe that she leaves herself vulnerable. He continues that in future she should guide her opponent’s energy and intent instead of trying to muscle him. She should allow him to do the physical work for her. Domino’s not buying into this and sarcastically replies, “Give me a break! What did you want me to do…use the force of a bullet to the gut against the bad guys?”

He then points out that there were three instances where the operation almost failed as a result of her impetuous behavior, and it only takes one to prove fatal. He adds that she can’t always rely on just luck. Domino replies that she did what she was paid to do; get the package from point A to point B. She asks him that if she needed him so much, then why even hire her and asks that next time, why doesn’t he just do it himself. Suddenly, she looks at the crutches he is holding and realizes her faux pas. She holds her head in embarrassment and says, “Jonathan…I…” He turns away and tells her to forget it as she looks to the ground in shame.

Without even making eye contact again, he hands her an envelope with her payment in, telling her it is what they had agreed upon. He wishes her luck in finding what she seeks and tells her he’ll be in touch if the need for her services arises. He then walks off as Domino says, too quietly for him to hear, “Like I’ll be waiting by the phone with one hand on the receiver, please.” She opens the envelope and removes the contents. She has a plane ticket, a cryptic note and a computer printout. Domino stares at the printout and says, “Now that’s a face I haven’t seen in long time. I guess I’ve got a date in Atlanta.” In her hand is a picture of a woman, attractive with graying temples.

(day eight)

A man in a long black robe dashes through a pine forest towards a large mountain, a tall vertical rock which looks almost unnatural. On the front is carved a massive cross, hundreds of feet high. The man climbs the cliff face and reaches his destination, a clearing with many others dressed in a similar fashion kneeled before a kind of alter. At the foot of the alter is another man in a long red robe. “My lord!” says the first man, “All is in readiness. We now only await your word.” The man in red says that they have waited a lifetime for this opportunity and tells him to see that it is not wasted. He bows and clasps his hands together, replying that it shall be done.

(day ten)

A passenger jet lands at the airport of Atlanta which is bathed in soft sunshine. Soon after, Domino, now with a red wig and wearing sunglasses is waiting to meet someone. She’s had just enough of waiting having been there two hours waiting for him to show and says to herself he’s got about ten minutes to show his face or when she finds him he’s going to have to learn to sing soprano. Beside her, a man seated on an iron bench says, “You must be Domino.” She turns and tells him he must be the idiot who’s kept her waiting for two hours. She adds that he better have something worthwhile to show her or she’s going to get the two hours she lost back in ways he won’t enjoy. The man is the computer hacker, still wearing his pop-up sunglasses. Holding a pigeon in his hands, he apologizes but says he had to make sure she wasn’t followed. What he has to show her however, is going to more than make up for any frustrations she’s feeling now. Domino seats herself and the man releases the bird.

Sat in the middle of a large plaza with people wandering all around them, he first thanks her for what he feels is a truly challenging assignment and he doesn’t get many of those. It’s the most fun he’s had in ages. Domino tells him to cut the crap and tell her what he’s found. He proceeds to tell her that although she didn’t supply him with much information, just a few blurred memories and a name which Domino had correctly assumed to be an alias, he has discovered that her mother doesn’t exist. “That’s it?” Domino snarls before standing up preparing to leave. She says she can’t believe it, it’s beyond a waste of time and she had been told he was the best; that he could help her. He grabs her by the wrist and tells her to slip back into sleep mode as people are staring and neither of them want that kind of attention.

He then tells Domino that he did a search for the woman she believes to be her mother and found nada, no birth certificate, no social security number, nothing. For all intents and purposes she never existed. Still standing, Domino asks him to explain the picture he had sent her; imaginary people don’t leave photo ID’s lying around. He smiles as he explains that whoever’s going through the trouble of making sure her mom is never found are good, very good. He adds though that they were sloppy in the sense that they thought they were untouchable. Giving them credit, he tells Domino that he had to break out the super-deluxe nutcracker for this one but a code hasn’t been built that he can’t crack. Domino tells him that if he can crawl out from under his ego for a minute, maybe he can tells her where he found her. Still grinning and looking relaxed, he replies, “Let’s just say Area 51 is a public theme park as compared to where mommy’s camped out.”

He then offers her a computer disk and tells her to go ahead and take it, it won’t bite. As her fingers are about to grasp the disk, it suddenly shatters into dozens of pieces and he is shocked as he looks at his hand, still thankfully mostly intact. Domino reacts instinctively, leaping over the bench and grabbing him by the collar, simultaneously reaching for her gun which is tucked into the back of her pants. She tells him to get down and as he holds his hand which is bleeding slightly, she hides them behind a pillar and tells him they need cover. When there’s one shot, there’s usually a second and a third following suit. Unfortunately, before she can return any kind of fire at her assailants, two bullets come through the pillar and strike the computer whiz, killing him instantly. Domino can’t believe it and says she’s so sorry. She reaches down and picks up one of the bullets and looks at it, a bullet that has pierced a solid stone, two foot thick pillar. She’s never known lead to have that kind of umph. Her luck factor kicks in and she leaps sideways to the floor as another shot slices its way through the pillar where she was standing.

She knows her cover has been lost and covers her head, knowing she’s probably about to die. As debris becomes swept around her, she looks up, wondering why she isn’t dead yet and spots a black attack helicopter hovering just feet above her, machine gun pointing to the ground. In the pilot’s computerized display, Domino is centered in the targeting system and the words ‘target acquired’ comes up on his screen. Domino drops her weapon, about to surrender but suddenly changes her mind when she spots a fountain nearby. Sprinting towards it, she grabs the watch on her wrist as the helicopter turns to follow her. Still running, through the tiny sprinkles of water she clicks the watch buttons and starts a countdown from five, removes the watch and drops it behind her as she continues her run. With two seconds to go, she turns and holds her hands up at the pilot and shouts, “Stop!” The pilot stares back at her as her count reaches zero, and the watch explodes directly underneath the machine, causing some damage. “Sucker,” says Domino as the helicopter flies higher before falling into a tail spin. Domino whips her red wig off and looks again at the bullet, wondering what kind it is. As the helicopter explodes behind her in a massive ball of flame and black smoke, she wonders what her mom has gotten her little girl into.

Characters Involved: 


Jonathan, a man who employs Domino

unnamed computer hacker

helicopter personnel


police officers

numerous bystanders

the High Lord

his followers

in photograph:

Domino’s mother

Story Notes: 

Rather confusingly, this issue is referred to in the indices as Vol. 1 No. 1, while actually this is Domino’s second series. Domino (1st series) #1–3, released in January – March 1997, dealt with a scheme dreamt up by Donald Pierce to use Milo Thurman, Domino’s former lover to predict the future for him. He used Lady Deathstrike and Skullbuster to assist him but Domino still managed to defeat all three, though Milo Thurman unfortunately died in the process.

Originally the series was planned for release in 2001, which is why it seems to take place between the demise of X-Force [X-Force #115/117] and Domino joining X-Corporation Hong Kong. [New X-Men Annual 2001]

The opening credits were done in the style of a movie, hinting at the style the creators were going for.

The mutant strike force Domino led was X-Force.

Area 51 is a military base in Nevada often associated with aliens and UFO’s. It is a favorite subject for conspiracy theorists.

Domino almost looks a little like a boy here with a short spiky haircut, a far cry from her appearances back in X-Force.

According to artist Brian Stelfreeze, Domino’s backpack contains a shielded laptop with a satellite uplink.

Issue Information: 
Written By: