Review - Manifest Destiny #1

"He's not from any tribe I've ever seen."

Chances are, you've heard of Lewis and Clark. The exploring duo ventured west and discovered a great deal of land in the United States that was previously considered to be the great unknown. Their trip was groundbreaking and is recounted with slight variation in Manifest Destiny #1 from Skybound Entertainment. The first issue is written by Chris Dingess, penciled and inked by Matthew Roberts, colored by Owen Gieni and lettered by Pat Brosseau.

Lewis and Clark are on an adventure. This adventure, however, focuses on more than just exploring the map and new territories. No, it appears that the good Captains are tasked with a rather classified mission, one which requires them to seek out and catalogue something mysterious and possibly non-human. They've enlisted the help of some Army volunteers (in exchange for gold), as well as been assigned criminals (in exchange for freedom) to carry out President Jefferson's directive. Considering the fact that Lewis keeps two journals--one Congressional and one classified--it's inevitable that things are about to get weird.

At first glance, you may be inclined to think that Manifest Destiny #1 is a faithful, comic book retelling of the now historic journey. While it does share some similarities, Dingess quickly reminds the reader that this isn't the trip you're familiar with, considering the appearance of a rather large structure and strange creature. The book feels a little like Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter in that regard, in that Dingess is adding a bit of a twist to rather well-known history. The dynamic between Lewis and Clark is depicted well, with the two working well together in multiple facets of the journey. He offers a great contrast between the soldiers and convicts, focusing primarily on Jensen as a convict who will likely be a lot more trouble than he's worth to Lewis and Clark.

Roberts' art features a lot of attention to detail in the characters themselves. It looks a lot like some of the work that Richard Corben (primarily his more recent work such as Ragemoor), where the characters look to have long, drawn-out faces and bodies. The reader never really gets a good look at the creature terrorizing the explorers in action, but Roberts does a great job in keeping it in the shadows and giving the reader enough of a glimpse to maintain the suspense. There's a great kinetic energy in many of the creature's panels, where the characters are struggling to understand exactly what they're dealing with. The panels are very clean and well-defined, primarily sticking to the tried and true layout with few overlapping.

Manifest Destiny #1 upends history and offers an alternate version that most people aren't going to be familiar with. There are some aspects that are accurate for the reader to grasp onto for context, but it's very apparent that Dingess is taking the Lewis and Clark expedition in a very different direction. Their mission is being detailed primarily through the dialogue between Lewis and Clark, which is a fun way to reveal the story to the reader. What that mission is still remains a little vague, but the series wouldn't be a series if it wasn't revealed slowly over time.

Manifest Destiny is in stores November 13 with interiors below.