Irene Adler, aka Destiny, became one of the most important players in Marvel’s X-Men comics with the Jonathan Hickman written House of X / Powers of X, and she did it by appearing in only one of twelve issues, and while her character was technically dead in the present day! Destiny’s relevance has continued to grow heading into 2022, as the X-Men approach a “Destiny of X” era centered around this fascinating character.
Destiny is a blind mutant precog named Irene Adler, born in Austria in the late 1800s, but still very much active and alive when the All-New All-Different X-Men of Wolverine, Colossus, Storm and Nightcrawler come onto the scene in Marvel continuity. Destiny’s mutant ability to see the future of humanity literally takes her sight, but affords her a rare secondsight of prophesy, unique even in the world of X-Men’s mutants.
She is one of the most prominent queer characters in Marvel Comics through her longstanding relationship with Mystique (despite the fact that the Comics Code and Marvel forced Claremont and creators to avoid overtly referencing this obvious subtext), and for my money, offers one of the most mysterious untapped potentials in the entirety of X-comics.
DESTINY’S STEALTH DEBUT
Issues: Ms. Marvel #16, 18, Marvel Super Heroes Vol 2 #10, #11
Honestly, until Mystique and Destiny’s glow up in the Hickman written X-Men ongoing, I was under the impression the characters debuted in the Chris Claremont and John Byrne classic, “Days of Future Past.” Turns out that’s not quite right, as Chris Claremont actually pulled them from another title he worked on in the late 1970s, Ms. Marvel with Dave Cockrum.
The Ms. Marvel issues do a lot more to debut Mystique, and of course Rogue given her connections to Carol Danvers, but we do get glimpses here of a shared home life between Mystique, Irene, and Rogue. Even here, we do get small details about Destiny’s precognitive abilities, telling Mystique “I do not perceive what will be, only what might.”
Claremont’s Ms. Marvel is never one of my favorites of the era, but diehard Mystique and Destiny fans may want to check out these sections.
DESTINY & THE BROTHERHOOD OF EVIL MUTANTS
Issues: Uncanny X-Men #141 to #142
The more familiar debut of Mystique and Destiny occurs in “Days of Future Past,” and it’s a helluva introduction. Raven and Irene storm onto the scene here declaring a new Brotherhood of Evil Mutants (complete with recurring allies Avalanche, Blob and Pyro), and straight up running an assassination op on Senator Robert Kelly, who Destiny foresees leading to hell on Earth for mutantkind.
Uncanny X-Men #170, 177, 178, 185, 199
For much of the remainder of the 1980s, Destiny and her Brotherhood cohorts are set up as the governments Freedom Force, sort of like DC’s Suicide Squad but with way more freedom and way fewer exploding heads. Since Freedom Force is a governmental agency, the group shows up with surprising regularity in the pages of Captain America and Avengers (and of course the X-Men spinoff books like X-Factor). The biggest developments for Destiny, though, are all in Uncanny X-Men.
In the majority of Destiny stories set during this time, her powers are used tactically (“Blob move left,” “Mystique here comes Nightcrawler!”), and big picture visions are muddled by the impending events of “Fall of the Mutants.” As a result, the most frequently active version of Destiny we’ve seen is one with restricted powers, rarely used to their full potential. It leaves me wondering what Destiny would look like released from these restrictions.
THE DEATH OF DESTINY
The single most interesting Destiny story of the Claremont era comes from an extremely unlikely place, tacked on three quarters of the way through Uncanny X-Men #254, an issue primarily centered around the Muir Island X-Men outfitted in bondage costumes, Moira X dressing to kill, and the Reavers invading and attacking Muir Island. For three pages, we actually experience a vision alongside Destiny, as Irene presumably is made aware of her impending demise, or the possibility of it. It’s a surreal and ambiguous presentation by Claremont and Marc Silvestri, but a great glimpse into how visions occurs for Irene Adler with her powerset.
The Freedom Force and Destiny era comes to a close with her death, which lasts an astonishingly long time in Marvel Comics years. Although Destiny’s precognition plays a role from here – as we’ll discuss – Irene Adler is dead in Marvel Comics continuity from publication date December 1989 until well, right now.
Destiny foresees her death – although its during a Freedom Force vs the Reavers bloody mess on Muir Island, it’s actually a Shadow King influenced Legion, aka David Haller, who does the deed.
There’s so much to unpack with this death in retrospect. First, the fact that the death occurs on Muir Island, home Moira MacTaggert’s mutant research facility, and that Moira is one of the first people to see Destiny dead. Second, the fact that the son of Charles Xavier, deliberately conceived by Charles to become an omega level mutant, is responsible for the death (regardless of the actual level of culpability given the role of the Shadow King on Muir Isle during this time period).
And on top of all that, we have the general question of why Destiny, knowing the future to the degree she does, would let this moment come to pass. This is something Mystique rages over for a long time, even though the in-story reason is Destiny is attempting to save Mystique from dying instead.
Destiny comes to Legion after hear death in the form of a vision, oddly enough one that more or less coincides with the start of Legion Quest and the Age of Apocalypse. In “Legion Quest,” Mystique also gets her first real shot at revenge for Legion killing Destiny.
X-Men #93, X-Men 94
X-Men #104, #105
The Destiny Diaries are the driving force of Chris Claremont’s grand return to the X-Men in the 2000’s in X-Treme X-Men, a series title as desperate to capture the edginess of the new millennium as the painfully stilted Salvador Larroca interior art and deeply horny Bill Jemas era book covers.
In X-Treme X-Men #4, the mutants find one of Destiny’s homes, and arrive to find a crate addressed to them from Destiny, having foreseen their arrival. We also hear here that Destiny leaves her materials to her sole heir, Rogue. There’s a fascinating example in X-Treme X-Men #5 as well where Sage maps various predictions together to show that Destiny actually predicted Cassandra Nova and the genocide of Genosha.
Issues: X-Men 201 to 203
Mike Carey’s (excellent) X-Men run includes a hunt for Destiny’s diaries.
This leads up to Messiah CompleX, and in New X-Men #46, set during the Messiah CompleX, Mystique tries to use Hope Summers to resurrect Rogue, based on Destiny’s Diaries.
DESTINY & THE BLACK WOMB PROJECT
X-Men #12, #13, X-Men Forever #4
X-Men Legacy – 211 to 214
For my money, the most fascinating post-death Destiny story (at least before House of X) is during the Mike Carey run on X-Men: Legacy, when the mysterious research projects of Alamogordo, New Mexico, a holdover from the early 90’s Fabian Nicieza written run on X-Men, is built out as the Black Womb Project headed by Juggernaut and Professor X’s fathers, Mister Sinister in the guise of Nathan Milbury, Amanda Mueller, and Irene Adler.
Destiny’s presence with this project remains an enormous wild card, as The Black Womb project is ultimately more or less revealed as a deeply evil project hellbent on ensuring immortality for Mister Sinister (in this case by injecting his DNA into Professor X!).
The most we really see of Destiny’s involvement and thinking with the Black Womb project stems from Nicieza’s follow up during the 2001 miniseries X-Men Forever, in issue #4, while Mystique and Cain Marko travel back in time during Irene’s time with the project. Irene defines herself as more archivist than geneticist, and leaves the implication that she’s most interesting in gathering and learning about mutant DNA as the atomic age evolves.
THE FALSE DESTINY RESURRECTIONS
X-Men Necrosha – X-Necrosha #1, X Men Legacy #231-233
My favorite part of Destiny’s resurrection during the X-Men: Necrosha event is that this temporarily restored Irene gets to interact with Blindfold, the precognitive mutant who debuts during the 2000’s Joss Whedon and John Cassaday Astonishing X-Men. Predictably, it’s yet again the Carey written issues of “Legacy” that explore Destiny in the most interesting ways.
Chaos War X-Men #1 to 2
Chaos War is the 2000’s Marvel event absolutely no one talks about, and frankly its existence is just a testament to the strength of Greg Pak and Fred Van Lente’s run on Incredible Hercules. Nonetheless, there is a bizarrely fascinating two issue X-Men tie-in during this forgotten piece of ephemera, written by Chris Claremont and Louise Simonson with art by Doug Braithwaite.
One of the main hooks of Chaos War is the resurrection of dead Marvel characters, and this means we see the return of John Proudstar, Sophie and Esme, Banshee, Madrox, and of course Moira MacTaggert. What we now know in retrospect is that this Moira is actually a Shi’ar Golem (which, still, whatever the hell that actually means), not the real mutant Moira who had faked her own death to disappear during this time.
Wilder still in a post HoX/PoX landscape, Claremont revisits Destiny’s Diaries in this 2 issue stint, pulling in a new volume with Destiny’s spirit infused (yes, it sounds like a horcrux), which leads to a resurrected Destiny merging spirits with Shi’ar Golem Moira. It’s an archenemy accidental Voltron situation, a classic mixup.
These two issues may be the ultimate continuity puzzle for current X-Men writers (I solemnly swear that no one will touch it), but either way it’s an interesting extension of Claremont’s vision for Destiny and the diaries, particularly the limits of her power.
In “The Logan Legacy” #6, there’s a rare James Tynion IV written Marvel issue, showing how Mystique and Destiny’s plans to shape their own corner of the world – often via Madripoor – are interrupted throughout history by Wolverine. In the aftermath of his 2014 death, Mystique is made aware of another of Destiny’s visions, which sets her up to manipulate the Wolverines to enact a plan to resurrect Destiny herself.
In the end, Destiny has manipulated Mystique into a wild goose chase to try to get her out of the end of the world, aka 2015’s Secret Wars. Intriguingly, Destiny also tells Mystique that there must be a Wolverine for the world to survive, which could definitely play into what’s to come in X Lives and X Deaths of Wolverine.
Marvel Comics Presents #5 (Nightcrawler/Destiny story by Claremont)
THE FIRST 10 LIVES OF MOIRA X & DESTINY
Which finally brings us to the current state of X-Men, and the development of Destiny as the archenemy of Moira X, based on the fact that Destiny’s precognitive abilities allow her to see Moira’s lifelines, and prevent her from developing a cure for mutants in Moira’s 3rd life (before, you know, burning her alive). This leads to Moira’s famous declaration that “there can be no precogs’ on Krakoa, a policy which Professor X and Magneto use to keep Destiny out of resurrection protocols until Mystique takes matters into her own hands in Inferno.