When you see the cover of Image’s release through Skybound Comics ofManifest Destiny, you see two very distinct things. You see the bold and courageous exploration that was the Lewis and Clark Expedition into territory unknown, and you see an underside of skulls, tentacles, bat-like wings, and all things dark and evil. It is an alluring cover to be sure and I am happy to report that when you enter into the pages of this comic, the allure holds and you will be entertained, informed, and excited for the next issue of this mini-series to come out. I had a blast reading it. Much in the form of the books of Henry Turtledove or even more recently Seth Grahame Smith, Manifest Destiny offers an alternative history not in those books that we all read through school or saw on TV documentaries. No, these histories take the original stories and add a “spin” to them focusing on those things of the supernatural or unexplained. And… It makes for some real entertaining reading.
We all know the story of how Lewis and Clark were commissioned by President Jefferson to explore and survey the land received during the Louisiana Purchase which consisted of a huuuuuuuuuuuge chunk of territory that makes up a very large part of our country today. They were to collect, document, and detail their findings. That’s the history book story. The “alternate” comes in as the story reveals that the President has also commissioned them to research and “clear” the darker side items of the purchase (i.e. mythical monsters and beasts of legend that have been reported). To succeed in this undertaking, an assemblage of soldiers and “gallows ready” criminals have been formed with the offer of fame, big money, and (for the criminals) freedom, but only Lewis and Clark themselves know the true mission as well as the reasoning behind the criminals coming on the expedition. This assemblage makes for a very nice contrast in characterization and the action between these two alone has been fun to follow.
But when you add the “supernatural” part to the story….Now you have a “witches’ brew” of fun and excitement. Without spoiling anything, it is safe to say that the expedition does encounter some oddities that are masterfully written and drawn out by Chris Dingess and Matthew Roberts respectively. Roberts art goes back and forth to an idealistic and majestic purity, to… well… supernatural things. But like a good mystery, we don’t quite make out all of what we see. Very nice effect it is. Additionally, Dingess does a fine job in scripting the characters and fleshing them out so you get a good feel of who they are and what they stand for in this series.
If you purchase Manifest Destiny #1, you won’t only have a good time reading it, you will want to mark your calendar for the next release. It is entertaining, exciting, a little mysterious, but above all, it is fun. It will go by too quick as it flows well. I recommend it highly. Give it a go. You will not be disappointed.
Writer: Charles Dingess Artist: Matthew Roberts Publisher: Image/Skybound Entertainment Price: $2.99 Release Date: 11/13/13