Written by Jason Aaron
Art by Stephen Segovia
Colors by John Rauch
From Marvel Comics
Wolverine's long asssociation with the Far East is a testament to Frank Miller's brief but eternal legacy on the character. There is a mystique the element adds that keeps readers craving more, partly because it brings an inherent dignity often associated with Eastern thought and principles to the man struggling with his bestiality, but also because after all the flattening of our world, there is still a sense of foreignness associated with what your grandfather might still call “The Orient.” Plus, pretty much, ninja are always awesome.
Manifest Destiny has been a pretty brilliant idea-branding for the X-books, because it is relatively simple. Everybody has moved at some point in their lives. What's more, everyone can understand what it means to totally uproot, try your damnedest to leave any baggage behind, and attempt to start anew. San Francisco makes the perfect choice for the allegory-saturated X-Men for all the obvious reasons, because, really, who would welcome mutants with arms opened wider than the denizens of Haight- Ashbury? It plays perfectly to the accepted characterization of the SF Bay area.
So in Wolverine: Manifest Destiny, you've got Wolverine, and you've got the X-Men moving to the Bay... which also houses one of the largest and most vibrant 'Chinatown's in the United States...
Oh yeah, you'd better believe there are totally people there that Logan has wicked pissed off.
So the central conceit to the miniseries is a strong one. What's more, Jason Aaron proves that he has a solid grasp on who Wolverine is, even from the second page. He hits the nail on the head when he says Wolverine is “a simple man... I just got a lot more history than most.” The alteration to the character that he was suddenly a man who remembered his entire life, as opposed to none of it, is still a recent theme, ripe for exploration. When this change was executed, there were expressions of fear that this would somehow fundamentally change the character from his long-standing persona of a man looking for his past. But there is a large difference, especially in storytelling, in remembering something and acknowledging it. Remembering is passive, and doesn't make for good stories. It is the active acknowledgment that moves a character, and offers resolution. So when Logan is trying to fully commit to San Francisco as his new home, he wants what always drives him; to find peace. An old debt unsettled; that's what takes him to Chinatown.
Aaron also plays to the strenghts of Wolverine by including the Kitty Pryde/ Jubilee archetypal kid character, taken with his Best-There-Is-At-What-He-Does coolness. Yuen Yee is a street kid, tapped to the specific conflicts Logan has at hand. The dichotomy of Logan and kids always works to perfection., because they are exactly the opposite of Wolverine. They are creatures with no past, they say pretty much everything they think and feel, and they think nothing could be cooler than being Wolverine. They are the perfect, harmless foils.
Oh, and for good measure, Aaron throws in the last remnants of the Deadly Hands of Kung-Fu series, the Sons of the Tiger, who seem not unlike retired hippies who took corporate jobs. So that's a fun bonus element.
So the writer knows what he's doing. Artist Stephen Segovia looks crisper than he ever has, and brings exquisitely nuanced layouts to each and every page. It may be due to the artist's long history on the character, but I couldn't help but notice a similar look and style to Lenil Francis Yu's work. I would probably say that Segovia is a bit more soft- curved where Yu is starkly angular, but there is a definite similarity in their line. Maybe it is just a shared sensibility, but it works. Segovia also provides himself with weighty, fluid ink work that sells the cross-culture narrative.
You read a Wolverine comic for stoicism, snikt!, mystery, grudge-holding former lovers, and beer. This book has all that, and may be doing it better than any ongoing book with the big guy's name on the cover.