So I’m walking blind into another Image series. The only thing I know is that the Manifest Destiny concerns the untold stories of Captain Meriwether Lewis and Second Lieutenant William Clark of the Corps of Discovery Expedition and that the cover for the first issue looks interesting and makes me want to know more.
So, let’s dive in and see what this is all about. Is it good?
Manifest Destiny #1 (Image Comics)
It is May of 1804 and the journey of Lewis and Clark is about to begin. The explorers and their crew (made of soldiers, mercenaries, and even convicts) are traveling westward on the Missouri River for the first leg of their journey. The goal is to explore America’s recent acquisition, the Louisiana Purchase, and see exactly what President Jefferson had bought. However, that’s not the only thing the team is doing out there; for you see, Lewis and Clark have an additional mission they must undertake.
First thing’s first though; they’ve got to blow this bird right out of the sky.
Written by Chris Dingess and drawn by Matthew Roberts (creators I am not very familiar with), this turned out to be a great, even fantastic at many points, first issue for a book that has flown under the radar.
First of all, the storytelling is wonderful: well-paced with how it introduces its characters, its story, and mysteries, while giving each part enough time to settle in and leave an impression on the audience. The buildup and tension in the second half is excellent with the two convicts talking to one another and a scary truth emerging as one of them reveals his discovery. The dialogue is equally impressive with the right amount of suspense and emotion to give the scenes more impact. Add in a solid cliffhanger and the mysteries that had been built up during the entire issue, and I guarantee that the reader will be more that interested in sticking around for the second issue, or even third.
Precursor to the McDonald’s golden arches?
The only complaints that I have with Dingess’ writing are some minor characterization issues (admittedly the issue is also just setup, but it is good setup in which you are not bored and invested in what you are reading). The thing is, outside of one of the convicts, we do not have much background or characterization for most of the cast. That goes for Lewis and Clark as well for the most part (though we do get some ideas about what they are like and we are able to glean their demeanor through some humorous moments as well). Of course, if someone is a history buff they might already have an idea of what kind of people Lewis and Clark are, but for people who aren’t — they are not the most engaging leads thus far.
Roberts’ artwork is very appealing and detailed. Every character in this book looks distinct from their facial expressions down to their body types. The world and its creatures are drawn exquisitely, especially with that monster at the end and the sense of motion and movement put into the panels and pages it appeared in. The inking and coloring are just as great and help bring everything to life. It’s just a great looking book overall.
- The story and the mysteries therein are intriguing.
- Well paced and structured, with great buildup and tension.
- The artwork fits the story perfectly.
- The characters, particularly the leads, need more fleshing out.
Is It Good?
Manifest Destiny #1 was a surprise and in the best of ways. The writing was engaging and really knows how to suck a person in, while the art helps bring the world to life. In the past few weeks, we have had a slew of highly antipcated and advertised titles come out from Image, such as Velvet, Pretty Deadly, and even Drumhellar to some degree. This one is just as good and in some cases, even better than those titles. Very recommended and definitely worth your time.