Manfiest Destiny is a book that had pretty well passed me by for basically a year before I was told to pick it up. When I had started doing my weekly segment for the Weird Science DC Comics Podcast featuring a non-DC book each week, I repeatedly asked for new or different suggestions, and one finally came through- Manifest Destiny. Now I have never been much for historic fiction, I think I read one historic fiction novel in high school, and it also involved alien abductions during World War II. So I dint think I was fully prepared for what this book was going to actually be about. Titles can be misleading, and I didn’t have any previous experience with the creators of this series, so I was unsure what to expect from a book called “Manifest Destiny” and I am sure that is the general consensus from people who picked this book up off the shelf.
The story is a basic retelling of the Lewis and Clark expedition, but with some pretty fundamental changes throughout. Starting out, they are in a world filled with strange creatures (mutations, or aliens? The origin of the creatures is still a bit unclear) who are quite aggressive and territorial. Add to that the fact that the crew of this expedition is a rather unsavory lot, and you have quite a lot of turmoil for Lewis and Clark to deal with, constantly. Adding in the fact that Sacagawea is a strange, ninja-like woman (but is sickly AND very pregnant) and you have enough variables to last this series for quite some time.
The first arc dealt with what was pretty standard fare for a sci-fi series, and for something from Image- giant beasties and zombies (though, not TECHNICALLY zombies, but people infected with some sort of fungus that would kill them and re-animate them of sorts). The second arc dealt with more insurrection from the crew, and fallout from having women along for the expedition, along with lots of new and equally vicious and hostile indigenous species.
This issue picks up in the middle of the third arc, from where the crew has freed themselves from a bevvy of precarious situations, while constantly losing some of their number with each new encounter. The most recent encounter was with a small, blue and be-fanged bird (who we will learn more about in this current issue) who bit, and infected, a Mister Etten. Add to this Clark getting into a fistfight on the deck of the ship with a crewmen who is the size of three men (it brought to mind the fight scene with the giant man in the RDJ “Sherlock Holmes” movie), and you’ve once again got a pretty well jam-packed issue.
This story is one that I don’t think is too widely known and read (at my LCS, this is the first time I had seen the comic on the shelves, at least) and I don’t see too many people posting reviews or pull-list photos on social media including this comic. So I hope it is a sleeper hit, or a series bought mostly digitally (which is how I got into the book) because I think that this book has gained a lot of momentum in fifteen issues, and with all of the crazy things that have happened, and the lack of reveal on a lot of different things that have come up during this expedition, I think this series could run for a long time before losing its steam.
It would seem that Chris Dingess and Matthew Roberts have come out of relative obscurity to create this series together, which is a great accomplishment- to, so thoroughly straight-out-of-the-gate, have created something as unique and quality as this series is quite an accomplishment for anyone, let alone someone without years and years of experience in the medium.
I have thoroughly enjoyed this series, it has been a fun story that brought history to life in a brand new and exciting way. I think that a lot of people would appreciate and enjoy the humor and sensibility of this book, while still seeing that there is some truth to the way of things in our past (and not too distant past, either). These creators have crafted something altogether unique, and I hope people start and continue to appreciate their work, because it is something to truly enjoy.
And, again, my thanks to Reggie for the recommendation- I cannot thank you enough. And I will ask anyone who reads this to do the same- if you have a suggestion, please give it to me, I will gladly make an attempt to read basically anything I am told to.