Manifest Destiny: Flora & Fauna by Chris Dingess and Matthew Roberts – A Book Review

It’s been a long time since I read a graphic novel that excited me as much as Manifest Destiny.  I’m going to say it now: this is a must-read book.

The premise is outrageous.  It follows Lewis and Clark’s expedition through the American frontier in 1804.  But they are not only charged with charting the unknown by President Jefferson; they are also assigned to find and eradicate any dangers to the American people—dangers pertaining to that of cryptozoology.

In this volume Lewis and Clark, as well as their crew of soldiers and paroled criminals, encounter a band of creatures similar to that of a Minotaur.  However, it’s not quite a Minotaur, which brings about some much needed levity as Lewis and Clark try to designate it.  There is also a plant that overtakes mammals and transforms them into something akin to zombies.   The forest is overrun with it, and the men cannot let it continue to thrive no matter how much danger it may pose to the crew.

Yes, this sounds ridiculous.

I’m telling you, though, it’s written so well, with just enough humor, just enough gravitas, just enough believability, that you’ll find yourself completely immersed.  The art, by the way, is absolutely stunning.  Matthew Roberts is the rare talent who can draw people, clothing, nature, and monsters in the same style and make it all look detailed, dynamic, and downright pretty.  Yes, his monsters are disgusting and scary, but artistically speaking, you can’t help but admire them as works of beauty.  Roberts’ art is amplified by Owen Gieni’s gorgeous colors.  All of this book takes place in the wilds of an untamed America, and Gieni found the perfect blend of earth tones to make each and every page pop.

I read a lot of graphic novels, and I can honestly say (again) that this is the most excited I’ve been for a new series in years and years.  If there’s any small part of you considering this book, go ahead and buy it now.  You will not be disappointed.

Oh, by the way, the breakout character of the book?  A Sacagawea you do NOT want to cross.

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