I was a late convert to Gail Simone’s Domino series, but I quickly fell for Dom and the gals’ wacky adventures gallivanting across the world. When that series ended, I was glad to see that everyone’s favorite probability altering mutant (editor’s note: Longshot is not a mutant, no matter how much we may love his mulleted ass) is getting a follow up series – and even more excited to see that both Simone and artist David Baldeon were on board for the follow up. All these months later, looking over the collected trade of Hotshots’ five issue run and it’s still the same fun action series that places the central characters’ interpersonal relationships on the same level as the gunfights and setpieces to create a world that is both ubiquitously approachable and seemingly perfectly tailored for female readers.
They story follows Domino and her team of former Serpent Society member Diamond, Agent X alumnus Outlaw and Atlas Bear, an exiled Wakandan warrior introduced in the previous series. Our heroes are contacted by none other than the Black Widow about a magical macguffin that has the potential to wipe out all of humanity if left unchecked. Because said macguffin, dubbed the Creation Constellation, has international implications, the new super-teamup draws the attention of the White Fox, South Korea’s answer to all the other super spy ladies in the 616 Marvel Universe, and our cast sets out to retrieve the Constellation before calamity strikes. The adventures take them across the globe and sees the crew tangle with both Deadpool and Tony Stark in the process of saving the world from an interstellar menace.
Like the Domino solo series, Simone does a fine job of giving every character of this series a personality all their own – and while some may get more clear love and attention than others (Dom and Outlaw in particular feel like the most 3-dimensional characters in the cast), all 6 women feel like real people with real motivations that inform their roles in the story. Fox, Widow and Bear may be after the item for their own selfish purposes, while Diamondback’s brush with her own mortality seems to have inspired her to reexamine her place in the world. Then there’s Domino herself, who struggles with leading a larger team for the first time (though she’s co-led several squads over the year) – especially when there’s a genuine Avenger looking to her for answers. The cameos from both Stark and Deadpool are fun as well, but they’re little more than window dressing for the ladies’ story. The dialogue may not have as much pithy repartee as one would hope, but the emotional moments hit well, and the jokes do at least feel appropriate in their context.
Much like Simone, David Baldeon feels like an integral part of Domino’s success as a character, as his pencils perfectly capture the tone and feel of the book. There’s a light, often playful hint to his artwork that helps keep our crew of bon vivant super spies grounded and yet still larger than life. The most impressive trick our art team (which also includes additional pencils from Michael Shelfer, and inks from Jim Charalampidis and Craig Yeung) is the actual representation of the Creation Constellation. As a Celestial artifact, the Constellation imbues those it possesses with the same kind of crackling, particle powers of its creators – lending all the infected a Jack Kirby-esque aesthetic that adds a lot of heft to their situation. The art isn’t always perfect, of course, as sometimes our heroes’ faces can grow a bit samey, but it’s a mild concern in a book as stylistically consistent as this.
Overall, this is another good outing from Simone and Baldeon that furthers the relationships between an expanding and exceedingly likable cast. It’s almost a shame that Jonathan Hickman’s (Fantastic) reimagined version of the mutant nation sort of destroys a world in which our mutant heroes can have these kinds of fantastical adventures (for a little while at least), as this series is good fun. Even when the fate of humanity is in the balance, this series feels like a low stakes romp that allows you to escape from other, more heady series. Simone’s version of the character is simultaneously a confident badass and a real person dealing with all the anxieties super heroics would undoubtedly create in people. In Baldeon she has found a partner in crime whose pencils fit the tone and story like a glove. If you’re looking for a light read, you’d be lucky to pick up Hotshots.