Manifest Destiny was an honorable mention in my Top 10 Comic Books of 2013 list, where I stated that I looked forward to seeing where it would go in 2014. Well, speak of the devil; does Manifest Destiny keep up that level of quality in the newest issue or does it sink? Is it good?
Manifest Destiny #4 (Image Comics)
Lewis and Clark’s party is stuck within the walls of La Charrette, currently hiding from the buffalo-minotaur menace that awaits them outside. However, they can’t stay there either due to a plant like zombie virus that has been infecting the townsfolk. They need to make a run for their boats, far away from the area, and hope they can survive. Also, they are still waiting for their mysterious guide to show up, but where could she be?
I think this is one campfire not to roast marshmallows over.
After a couple of very energetic and fast paced issues, this newest issue decided to slow things down a bit (well last issue did slow it down as well, but more during the second half than an entire issue). Not that the issue is boring or anything — quite the opposite, as Manifest Destiny #4 remains very engaging and thoroughly enjoyable as we witness the characters try to devise a plan of what to do. As usual the tension is built very masterfully but this time it allows you to breathe and relax for a bit after all the chaos that has happened so far.
Other things to note are that we finally get introduced to Sacagawea (well we saw a bit of her last issue, but she’s named and introduced this time around) and her husband, Toussaint Charbonneau. While she doesn’t talk at all, Sacagawea still has a presence and air around her that makes you curious to learn more about writer Chris Dingess’ version of her, especially with the flashback we are given in the issue.
Toussaint, on the other hand, talks quite a bit and you get a good feel what he’s all about, including his attitude and how he interacts with others. The only thing that is still really lacking is strong development or characterization for the leads Lewis and Clark (again, some of the supporting characters, like York in this issue, feel like they have more depth to them). There are some small bits that add some insight to the characters’ minds, like when Lewis’ writes in the journal, but other than that the characterization still feels rather lacking. Also, as with the second issue, there is some inappropriate humor that does not really mesh well with the time period and tone the issue is giving.
The artwork by Matthew Roberts remains strong as ever. His characters look great and distinct from each other, and have great range of emotions and expressions on them (the scene where the characters are arguing about what to do next is a good example). The layouts are simple, but effective and easy to follow. The scenery are lively and full of detail. Some of the panels are particularly beautiful and have some great looking and moody imagery, such as the scene when Sacagawea and Toussaint first appear in the foggy morning. It’s just fantastic looking and hasn’t dipped in quality at all.
Is It Good?
Manifest Destiny #4 is another well written and drawn issue by Chris Dingess and Matthew Roberts. These two continue to make one of the most underrated books currently being put out by Image right now. It’s a book that deserves a lot more attention and discussion from people than its already getting. If you still haven’t jumped aboard, make sure to do so soon.