X-Men: Manifest Destiny #2

It’s X-Men Event time, and that means it’s time for another issue of X-Men-based anthology, focussed (somewhat tenuously) on the mutantverse’s recent relocation to San Francisco.

The lead strip shows Carey continuing Iceman’s plot in a rather strange direction. Bobbie’s unlikely feat of re-convalescing himself after more than a week “dead” is glossed over in favor of a second encounter with Mystique, who it seems plans to antagonize him continuously.

In this issue, Mystique does openly addresses her “death” at the end of recent Wolverine storyline “Get Mystique,” which at least helps the continuity nerds among us move on, but it doesn’t make her fast reintroduction any more satisfying. Michael Ryan’s pencils make the short read stronger than it is, but after an intriguing first chapter Carey’s Iceman serial seems to have faltered a little.

Unexpectedly, the best short in the issue is drawn by an inker and written by a penciller -- a Skottie Young-penned Juggernaut tale drawn by Dan Panosian. In it, Young shows he’s got quite a knack for the slice-of-life superhero material as Juggernaut sits down at a bar and tries to figure out his station in life. The tone reminds me of Joe Kelly’s excellent, if long-forgotten “Juggernaut” one-shot, and the idea of Cain as a hard-drinking, morally ambiguous redneck superhuman is always an enjoyable take if done right. Panosian’s art is unconventional, but fits the tone of the strip, and it’d be nice to see more from him as a penciller.

The final piece, a Chris Yost-written short about Emma Frost, is, in stark contrast to the preceding tale, wildly off-tone for the character, and feels inappropriately maudlin for a character that has previous shown little trouble in her guarded nature. While Diaz’s artwork is good, it does serve to prove that Bianchi’s costume designs are tough to separate from his style, and his version of Storm, especially, looks fairly ridiculous when drawn by anyone else.

It’s a fair issue overall -- X-Men anthologies are usually an enjoyable a read for both casual and hardcore fans -- but as with previous attempts at the format, “Manifest Destiny” does ultimately end up feeling a little inconsequential in the wider scheme of things.

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