Image Comics prides itself on creating series with new twists on old ideas and MANIFEST DESTINY #1 is well in keeping this tradition. Anyone who had to cover US history will be familiar with Capt. Lewis and 2nd Lieutenant Clark’s expedition (1803-1806). But MANIFEST DESTINY #1 throws a new twist in things: What if the two were not commanded by President Jefferson to explore, but to wipe out monsters across the continent. This is the brilliant premise of the series and the first issue is no slouch. All about the set-up, Clarks’ journal narrates the proceedings. Right off the bat, writer Chris Dingess develops very different characters and we get a good chunk of development between Clark, Lewis and one of the ‘volunteers’ on the mission. Clark describes boredom as the biggest problem the men have, but the comic is anything but.
And they still were not as lost as Columbus..
Matthew Roberts‘ pencils and inks handle the spread of the wild continent beautifully. His keen eye for detail causes a second reading just to take it all in and his interior line work holds the charm and griminess of the times accurately. He has done his research for the period, as there will be nit-pickers who will dig into the details. I certainly appreciate his willingness to pay attention to patchwork and the rough-&-ready type of clothing the men wear. It’s a complete art style, with hints of Frank Quietley’s impressionism, sans his ’round face-dness’.
“Heron for dinner?” “Don’t mind if I do, good sir!”
The heavy lifting of colour duties falls to Owen Gieni and his abilities suit this creative team like a hand in glove. Although he appears to favour a brighter series of tones then one would expect, (this might simply be misdirection), he gives life and movement to characters previously only visualized in stiff monotone paintings. His choices reflect also a familiarity with the subjects and his colouring of the landscapes in MANIFEST DESTINY #1make them feel like participating characters in the story.
MANIFEST DESTINY #1 is a great start to a great looking series and I will be looking especially hard at what happens to York, Clark’s ‘freed’ slave. I’ll be cleaning my rifle til next time.