I absolutely loved the first issue of Manifest Destiny. It hooked me right in with a great start and solid mysteries. I haven’t been this excited to read the next issue from an Image series in a very long time, so let’s not waste anymore time. Is it good?
Manifest Destiny #2 (Image Comics)
After the monstrous encounter with the Bison-Minotaur last issue, Lewis and Clark and their team continue their journey. Their next destination is La Charette, an American settlement out in the wilderness, where they hope to rest and recover after their encounter. Trouble is, especially considering the beast they found earlier: what else is out there waiting for them?
Why, purple mountain majesties of course!
Just like last issue, Manifest Destiny #2 is a great read overall. The story is well-written, engaging and interesting as it adds more mysteries to the mix while also taking a page to explain and give some details on what exactly the monster was (well, it’s more of an autopsy that Lewis does).
Every scene has a purpose and none of them feel dragged out due to the sense of tension and dread that persists. Writer Chris Dingess flexes his pacing skill — by knowing how long to let a scene actually last and where to place emphasis, like the scene where the woman falls (or possibly jumps, off the cliff. It takes up the entire page, but it feels a bit shocking and it looks like it is happening in slow-motion, which is probably what it feels like for the characters watching the event from afar. In other words, it’s very effective.
There are other commendable facets of Dingess’ writing as well: the narration and dialogue is strong for the most part. The emotions and moods of the characters are explored well — we see their fears, their worries, and a range of other feelings.
Manifest Destiny #2 is also a big step up from last issue in the characterization department, in particular with Lewis. He was rather forgettable in the last issue, but with the way he talks (and also helped along with the art) you get the sense that the man cares about others and is concerned about what is happening. Clark is more of a jerk (rather unlikeable a lot of the time) as a counterpoint to Lewis, exemplified in his cruel tone and the way he talks down to others. Not sure if this is accurate or not to the real people, but it is something to note. The only time where the time feels a bit off is when one of the characters tells a very crude and dark joke, which really does not seem to fit well with the tone of the story. It may be in character for the person who says it, but it doesn’t work here.
Oh come on, Buffalotaur is a perfectly acceptable name.
One last thing to note about the writing is how it handles the characters. Like the last issue, the characterization is not very strong. Sure, it does a much better job this time around with humanizing and adding some emotion to the main characters, but you don’t feel very connected to them or the side characters. Most of them lack likeability or character depth, which is very much needed with this story. Manifest Destiny is sort of a horror comic (not really it’s main genre, but it is certainly is part horror) and while you can feel the tension and dread with the cast, you don’t feel worried for their safety since you don’t like them or know them well. It just needs a bit of a step up in this department for the comic to truly be amazing.
The artwork by Owen Gieni remains very strong, just like last issue, though with one exception that I noticed with the scene with the field outside of the fort. The field seems to change size a bit: it is very small at one point and then very wide and it looks like there is a mile difference between the fort and the tree line. It’s not a big concern or anything — just something I noticed.
The characters continue to look distinct and unique from one another, allowing for most of them to be easily identifiable. The locations are lush and wonderfully detailed. With last issue one of the best aspects was with the monsters and “unnatural” things that exist in the world. That continues here with the great and rather creepy designs of what the explorers run into this time around. No spoilers, but that last page was something else.
- The writing is very strong overall.
- Very engaging horror and mysteries.
- Artwork works quite well.
- Characters need to be a little more endearing.
Is it Good?
Manifest Destiny #2 was a great issue that gives me a lot of hope for the future of the comic. It was almost as good as the first issue in keeping the emotion and tension, the strong writing, and the fantastic artwork. It’s only true fault lies with a lack of likeable characters, but if the comic was correct that, I could see this becoming one of the best series that Image has to offer.