The final part of anthology-title “X-Men: Manifest Destiny” finally makes it out this week after a few printing troubles. This issue contains the final part of a lead “Iceman Vs. Mystique” story, and two other shorts focussing on other mutant characters and their new lives in San Francisco.
The Iceman/Mystique lead comes to a somewhat muted conclusion, given the big changes and fast pace of the earlier parts. There’s a sense that no resolution has been reached, and that the distance travelled by the characters has been largely geographical in nature. It’s all been based on a character dynamic that’s fairly entertaining, but despite the best efforts of Carey to have the hero win it still feels more like their conflict has ended in a draw, satisfying no-one.
Kieron Gillen’s Dazzler story fills in a continuity gap between her appearances in “New Excalibur” and “Uncanny X-Men”, but does so in a way that gives readers the rarest of things — a story about Dazzler’s pop career that feels genuine, rather than campy or ironic. There’s not a huge amount of space to work with, but Gillen tells a story that cuts straight to the heart of who Dazzler is, and that’s notable because it’s quite possibly the first time anyone’s actually tried to do that, let alone successfully. Pichelli’s art is appropriately poppy and light, but carries the more intense moments beautifully. Surprise stand-out moments like this are what make these anthology titles worth reading.
Frank Tieri’s short, on the other hand, demonstrates the format’s weakness. There’s certainly nothing technically wrong with the story, which shows a few of the X-Men catching up with goon-for-hire Avalanche for a good talking to, but when the dust settles there’s a definite sense that it’s a story which exists purely for editorial reasons. It doesn’t say anything about Avalanche or the X-Men around him. Ben Oliver’s art nicely translates Bianchi’s uniform designs — not necessarily an easy task — but in general, there’s nothing that’ll make it stand out.
Overall, it’s a typical anthology issue — some good things, some okay, some bad, and overall acts as a nice taster for a few characters or creators you might not otherwise get exposed to. Tying the stories in to “Manifest Destiny” has given the series a good spine, and ultimately, there are far worse places you could be spending your money than on this issue.