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Manifest Destiny: Issues #1 and #2
- Author: Chris Dingess
- Penciler: Matthew Roberts
- Inker: Matthew Roberts
- Colorist: Owen Gieni
- Publisher: Image Comics
Rule number one before divulging into Manifest Destiny #1 is that you must skip to the back and read the aside from writer Chris Dingess. In this short one-page letter to the reader, Dingess explains his general upbringing and the development of his comic book tastes along with thanks and acknowledgements to some of the comic book industry’s biggest forefathers. Dingess’ love for bizarre comics such as Swamp Thing and Tomb of Dracula is the perfect introduction to the greatness that awaits you in the first issue.
Written by Syfy’s Being Human writer Chris Dingess along with Battle Pope’s artist Matthew Roberts; Manifest Destiny is a new adventure for both of these artistic virtuosos. With Dingess’ ominous way with words and Robert’s bold and gorgeous art style, Manifest Destiny does not disappoint.
The story follows Lewis and Clark’s historical expedition, but with a “monstrous” twist that is very unlike the history books. Lewis the scientific observer and Clark the stern soldier have strict orders to carry out: western exploration. The crew sails toward unexplored monster-infested civilizations with nothing but muskets and hired criminals at their side. The possible fate of discovery is unknown to the criminals onboard, which makes for a thrilling sub drama amongst the overall plot line.
Issue #1 introduces the cast of characters — except for Lewis and one of the hired criminals. The crew finally hits the shore with an eerie sense of unease with a brief understanding of their mission goal. With the ship still in sight, the crew finds a mysterious arch made entirely of winding plants riddled with disturbing flowers resembling human skulls. As they approach the arch and settle for observation, a beast approaches the site at full speed toward Lewis in attempt to harm him. The crew surrounding Lewis quickly takes down the beast and luckily no one is harmed. In the nearby brush however, trickery brews and a murder is committed. There’s an unknown evil in their midst, and it is a member of Lewis and Clark’s crew.
Issue #2 starts with Lewis inspecting the mysterious creature that attacked him by the strange arch. After performing an autopsy, the crew discovers that the creature has human characteristics and was only a child. A very huge child. Fear settles in the crew as they contemplate the possibility of a larger form of the beast attacking them — possibly in groups. As the crew searches for a coastal fort aboard, they see a beautiful savage-like woman with glowing green eyes on a nearby cliff. Disturbingly, the woman jumps to her death and the crew docks immediately to pursue her. After finding unnerving evidence of her remains they precede through the brush and find threats among them, some new and some old. With the crew trapped in a shanty shack, issue #2 draws to a close.
The dialogue between characters is short, sweet and to the point. Rarely do characters go off on irrelevant tangents or monotonous humdrum. After a days work Lewis concludes his examinations with log entries where he evaluates the current state of things. These journal entries allow you to look deeper into Lewis’ character while avoiding the usual he-said she-said repetition dialogue.
Manifest Destiny’s art is very unique. Roberts adds alluring realism with his pencil and ink style, and Gieni’s coloring captures the fictitious theme . The colors are extremely vibrant and fresh which makes the comic extremely appealing to the eye while illuminating the environment and characters. And while having a similar look to comics such as Locke and Key, Manifest Destiny incorporates more shading and detail to its surroundings which keeps it from looking too cartoonish.
The thought-provoking dialogue and eerie imagery provides the reader with a strong sense of fear, excitement, anxiety and dread. You don’t know entirely what the outcome of their expedition will be, or what the crew will encounter on the way. If the comic chooses to have the same outcome as the historical tale, Manifest Destiny will be carried out and Lewis and Clark will survive. Will Dingess stick to the classic conclusion of western discovery and native control, or could the crew be heading towards certain death? Although the answer is unknown to us, one thing is certain, I will be in line waiting for issue #3 the day it is released to find out.
You can buy Manifest Destiny at Amazon for $6.99. Originally sold for $2.99.