Throughout the entire run of Manifest Destiny, Lewis and Clark have been placed into very defined boxes. Clark is the warrior and leader type, while Lewis is the egg headed weakling. Sure, Lewis has had some moments of courage, but Clark has always been the bad ass of the tale. Once things are finished in Issue #14 though, well Clark is still the bad ass. But Lewis is beginning to shed his egg head status and become a man of some grit. He is getting tougher. But of course, he is going to have to be as our expedition is under fire from strange avian predators, a sick Sacagawea who has been the savior of the party up until now. And each other too as mutinous thoughts are appearing to be mounting with each mystic finding and attack.
I have had a real love/hate thing going with Manifest Destiny for quite some time, being impressed with some issues, but downright discouraged with others. But following it from the beginning, I feel vested. And like the Lewis and Clark expedition itself, I am determined to make it to my destination no matter what obstacles (or bad issues) may come. I’m here.
The one high spot for the entire series has been the beautifully rendered art of Matthew Roberts and the equally brilliant coloring of Owen Gieni. These two have brought the heat issue after issue with their portrayal of this strange new land of adventure and danger. In one place, we see beautiful panoramic scenery of tranquility, followed by vicious attacks from out of the tranquility. The art has been steadfast and makes the reader want trop turn the pages.
The not so high spot of the series has been the writing of Chris Dingess. There have been some issues that have been great. But others have been lacking. I have been particularly displeased with how certain “problems” that our expedition have encountered seem to be easily defeated (usually by Sacagawea) making a once insurmountable threat have too light of a sendoff. It has been frustrating at times.
But with Issue #14, Digness has entered into new territory. Sacagawea is sick and mostly out of commission. It may be at the end of a barrel of Clark’s gun, but she is out of the fight. Our party has encountered a tough terror bird that seems to have some sort of poison in its bite that does not allow wounds to heal. And we have a new threat from above that looks to be an interesting challenge to say the least. Just this wrinkle in the story’s formula has me excited. But Dingess does not stop there as he ups the ante more with the sudden establishment of Meriwether Lewis as a tough guy. Well, he still isn’t all that tough, but at least he has heart. He might not have any more teeth by Issue #15, but he does have heart. So, I can safely say that my interest is at least peaked after this masterstroke of good writing.
But I have been down this road before with this series. With current expectations (and the disappointments of the past), I finish Issue #14 of Manifest Destiny with guarded optimism. The potential is here. Digness has written up to the level of artistic expression of Roberts with Gieni’s coloring. The elements are all there. We shall now see where we go from here. Let’s see if some new ground can be broken with this on again off again historical drama.