MANIFEST DESTINY #13 Grows Stronger with New Arc – Comic Review
Manifest Destiny #13 marks the beginning of a new chapter for the popular Image series. For those unaware, the series follows Lewis and Clark’s expedition through the American wilderness. The historic recounting of the expedition, the one taught in classes across the U.S. today, is merely the portion of their journey that the government found safe to open to the public. Chris Dingess‘ story focuses on the “true” mission of the explorers as they find, document and often kill monstrosities hidden in the vast American wild. Giant arches scattered throughout the land seem to each be markers for their very own abomination.
Until this point in the series Lewis and Clark, along with their crew and guide Sacagawea, have come across buffalo Minotaur monsters, floral zombies, giant mosquitoes and one particularly nasty giant frog creature. Dingess paces the story so that nearly every new monster species is introduced at the very end of an issue, leaving the readers with a guaranteed action-packed follow up. This issue follows the same outline but does not have the same repetitive feeling that some of the earlier issues were plagued with. The series has progressed to a point where the most interesting aspects are no longer the monsters but the more relatable human cast. Digness has introduced such strong characters up to this point that their relationships, individual growth and conversations can carry the narrative without the monster of the week rearing its head. The beginning of this new story arc exemplifies this particular strength well as the monster is just a nice after meal dessert.
The issue opens with a sort of appetizer as it wraps up some loose ends from much earlier in the series and then moves on to expand upon some of the previously background characters. As new characters are brought to focus the world seems to become clearer as well. The explorers, more specifically Lewis, have gathered enough information to begin extrapolating, creating hypothesis about the connections between monsters and the arches. Of course the new theories just raise more questions but are fascinating nonetheless. Matthew Roberts‘ pencils and inks supplement the scientific aspects of the story perfectly. The finely detailed flora and fauna throughout the issue sometimes provides more information than the words on a given page. Providing readers with the ability to visually dissect panels, performing their own investigation simultaneous to that of Lewis and Clark’s vastly increases the immersive feel of the story.
While the research and scientific aspects of the narrative are greatly enhanced by the art Roberts’ ability to individualize a large character roster must be praised. Each character is easily distinguishable from their compadres. Some such as the non-military characters are very individualized but even the similarly uniformed men all differ. This fine attention to distinguishable people is crucial to the aforementioned character driven portions of the narrative. Issue #13 is arguably the strongest issue since the introduction of Sacagawea. It both utilizes and expands upon the characters many individual issues and story lines while building the setting at the fastest rate yet. All of these strengths coupled with the amazing art and trademark creatures in just the first issue of the new arc promises great (and likely tragic) things in the near future!
Manifest Destiny #13
Published by Image Comics
Written by Chris Dingess
Pencils and Inks by Matthew Roberts
Colors by Owen Gieni
Letters by Pat Brosseau
Cover by Matthew Roberts & Owen Gieni