I’ve been real hit or miss with this title. At some times, it truly dazzles me with impressive historical story and fascinating artistic depictions. At other times, it feels kind of weak and it leaves me wanting more as really intense issues are resolved with very little effort it seems. Still, for each step back that it takes, it comes back with a step forward, which has made me continue to want to read it as I am looking to find some connections to the very strange phenomenon that the expedition have encountered. I still think that the premise of this “alternative history” of the Lewis and Clark expedition westward is completely kick ass and interesting. I just wish the story could catch up with the premise every now and then. With Issue #9, we get a little bit of both the good and the bad as the party continues to work through their current dilemma of being separated between land and river. Clark, some soldiers, and some prisoner volunteers are trapped on the banks of the river as a menacing giant frog that looks like it came from a Kaiju lineage sits patiently awaiting to pick off its prey one by one should anyone go to the boat. Beyond the banks, lie some pretty intimidating forest with all sorts of creepy crawlies and flies. What to do? What to do?
Issue # 9 works through the problems as Lewis on the boat has an idea, but maybe not the aim he needs. While the men on shore are busy collecting specimens and trying to figure what happened to a couple of their party members. They do eventually find them and things do get interesting as we are laid to bear witness to birthing events of some of the more interesting creepy crawlies and flies.
Charles Dingess’ writing has been well enough, but I still find it lacking in some areas when it deals with the various encounters of the party. It feels that he hangs on too long at some areas and not enough at others. But when push comes to shove, he delivers a great line or two and he does an excellent job of characterizations really beginning to address the various members of the party and all of their diversities, especially between the prisoners who volunteered to the expedition to avoid their punishments and the soldiers who are driven more by duty. Things may begin to come to head and Dingess plays it nicely.
I still can’t find anything to say bad about Matthew Roberts’ art. Even when the story is lacking, his art has not lacked a bit. Everything looks as it should with a fine mixture of the stoic and the sinister. In Issue #9 he still impresses as the Kaiju frog and the creepy crawlies and flies look super and are worth the read.
All of the elements are there for this title to pop. The premise is good, the art is amazing, and the characterization is spot on. The only thing missing is the direction. The party just seems to be aimlessly falling into malady after malady. There seems to be some higher purpose at play as the recurring arches keep popping up, but right now there is no real clarity. I am hoping to see some of the clarity to begin to make itself known if this comic is to become a really good one.
Writer: Charles Dingess Artist: Matthew Roberts Publisher: Image/Skybound Entertainment Price: $2.99 Release Date: 8/20/14 Format: Ongoing; Print/Digital