I have been provided with an advance copy of the new Marvel Heroines book Domino Strays by Tristan Palmgren published by Aconyte Books, so here is the honest review I promised in exchange for the book.
So here is an important disclaimer which is always important to put out there first. I have a casual work contact with Asmodee to demonstrate board games for them in stores and at conventions. Asmodee being the parent company of Aconyte the publisher.
I am going to try my best to not let these things cloud my judgement in this review, but I accept that subconsciously it might.
So lets get in to it, the book as the title suggests concentrates on Domino, the mutant whose power is luck, if you are familiar with the comics, this is set in the current timeline with her being the leader of the Hotshots and contains the rest of the team in supporting roles. If you are less familiar, she was played wonderfully by Zazie Beetz in Deadpool 2.
The story revolves around the Hotshots infiltrating the compound of a cult leader in Chicago to save her clients two children. It skips between three different time periods, giving us the reasons why Domino hates the idea of people being held in cages, and why she has a particular thing for crazy zealots.
Its told from a second person point of view with Domino telling the reader the story, given how closely Domino is associated with Deadpool, I think it would have been very easy for this to go down the route of breaking the fourth wall, but I think this works way better, because they didn’t do that. Honestly it feels like we are holed up in some seedy bar as Domino relates the story to us over drinks.
You get a fantastic inside look at the Hotshots, how they work and the relationship dynamic between them, especially between the closest three of them, those being Domino, Diamondback and Outlaw.
My favourite parts of the story were those that covered Dominos infiltration of the Project Armageddon compound in the Everglades and those about her childhood in a church orphanage. The present days story for me was more of a device to tie it all together, and it was really good at that.
Another positive was that they didn’t overly play on her superpower, she rarely relied on it, and as she points out, its not something that makes her invulnerable and isn’t very cinematic, she has to rely on honed skills and experience, only relying on her superpower when she absolutely needs to.
The only real issue I have with the story is the footnotes, which are in themselves great, but they are all at the end of the chapters, which are in themselves, not that long, but its a pain to have to keep flipping through to make sure you read them when you are supposed to. I would much rather they be at the end of the page they belong with, but I wonder if this is a limitation of the ePub format.
I was a big fan of the Domino: Hotshots series by Gail Simone and this was a fantastic deep dive into that team. You don’t need to have any background in the characters as the book does a great job of giving you all the background you need, but in a natural very easy flowing way. The dynamic between the team was just perfect, with the characters balancing each other out just like they do in the comics. The relationship between the core of Domino, Diamondback and Outlaw, with the other members was just perfect, especially with Atlas Bear, who is only reluctantly a member of the team.
Footnotes aside, this is a very good read and given that the characters are very much Marvel B-List characters (Other than Black Widow), means that its accessible to those who only really know Marvel from the MCU.
In short you have a great book looking at one of Marvels more interesting characters and its really enjoyable.
Domino Strays is going to be released on October 6th.