Manifest Destiny: Fortis and Invisibilia by Dingess and Roberts – A Book Review

The Manifest Destiny series continues to be perfect for those who love the comic book genre but are not fans of super heroes.  Now on its sixth volume, Manifest Destiny details a fictionalized account of Lewis and Clark as they explore America’s new west.  Thomas Jefferson tasked them with this exploration, but the premise is that history has it wrong.  It wasn’t just to map the area and find a waterway to the Pacific, but also to record and eliminate any super natural creatures posing a threat to future American pioneers.

In this latest volume, Lewis and Clark, as well as their party, have built a fort in order to hunker down during the winter.  However, the men grow weary of the leadership, they grow lustful for the few women in the group, and they grow mutinous against the chain of command.  To make matters worse, the entity for whom we thought spoke only to Lewis?  It’s expanding its influence.

Manifest Destiny began as an adventure comic with touches of horror as it offered both accurate and fictionalized accounts of Lewis and Clark’s travels.  However, Chris Dingess has transitioned the book into a psychological thriller as the men are growing stir crazy in their fort, trapped by nature itself, as well as perhaps the supernatural.

Matthew Roberts continues to blend historically accurate scenery with terrifying creatures throughout.  The clothing he depicts particularly astounds me.  I’d love to know his research methods.  It all seems quite meticulous.  Furthermore, when violence occurs in this book, it is not for the squeamish.  I also appreciate that the colorist, Owen Gieni, has opted to use fairly muted colors to match the eerie tone of isolation and winter.  The book once sported vibrant greens and lush vegetation, but no longer.  It’s a subtle touch, but a deft one.

I have very much enjoyed this series so far.  I highly recommend it to anyone who likes historical fiction, horror, thrillers, and fantasy.  Not to worry if you’ve never read a comic book.  No one is perfect, and you’ll figure it out quickly.  I know you will become hooked on this title.

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(Did you enjoy this review?  Check out Scott William Foley’s short stories HERE!)

 

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Manifest Destiny: Sasquatch by Dingess and Roberts

This is one of my favorite ongoing series, and Volume 4 entitled Sasquatch is no exception to the previously established excellence!

We finally discover exactly how President Jefferson procured the skull of the Sasquatch which served as the impetus for Lewis and Clark’s true mission westward.  That epiphany alone makes this book completely worth the cover price!

This collection is divided into two story lines.  The first follows Captain Helm and his expedition as they traveled west before Lewis and Clark.  They soon encounter the brutal winter as well as the enigmatic Sasquatch.  Helm is bedeviled by an otherworldly entity, and it’s not Bigfoot.  If you’ve been reading the series, you know the mysterious arches often serve as a signpost to the supernatural.  Helm is drawn to the source of those arches, and it’s not for the faint of heart.

The other story line picks up with Lewis and Clark.  They are literally following in Helm’s footsteps and reaping what he has sown.  That’s not a good thing.  Death awaits them at every turn, and it’s not always from the things that go bump in the night.

As always, Matthew Roberts’ art is magnificent.  This title always flirts a bit with the horror genre, and Roberts’ definitely got to display his special talent for all things gory.  Seriously, this collection is particularly gross.  I mean that as a total compliment.

Chris Dingess continues to deliver a really tight plot that is beginning to align in ways I never expected.  His dialogue and characterization is consistent, and while I wouldn’t go so far as to call this title “historical fiction,” he certainly did his research regarding Lewis, Clark, Sacagawea and their seminal journey.

Manifest Destiny is exciting, well-written, and expertly drawn with phenomenal color.  I absolutely recommend this title.  You’ll never look at Lewis and Clark the same!

(Did you enjoy this review?  Check out Scott William Foley’s short stories HERE!)

Manifest Destiny: Amphibia and Insecta by Dingess, Roberts and Gieni – A Book Review

This first volume of Image Comics’ Manifest Destiny absolutely blew me away and rocketed to the top of my favorite titles.  If you’re unfamiliar with the work, it follows Lewis and Clark’s expedition into the unknown.  They have been officially charged by President Jefferson to explore and map the region.  Unofficially, however, they are to locate and exterminate any threats to American citizens, both natural and supernatural alike.

In this second volume, author Chris Dingess traps the crew in the middle of the Mississippi River.  Their ship lodged against the top of a great underwater arch, much like the giant floral arch they encountered in the previous installment.  Clark leads some men ashore to explore while Lewis stays behind to figure out how to dislodge the ship.  Unfortunately they soon realize an enormous frog monstrosity hunts these waters, and it enjoys the taste of human flesh.

Furthermore, Clark and his men must battle gigantic mosquitoes that appreciate all the human body has to offer, and it’s more than just blood.

Dingess provides an incredibly satisfying solution to both problems, though the crew suffers greatly before an escape is made.  And though this plot may sound a bit silly, I assure you, it had me figuratively on the edge of my seat.  It’s been a while since a book had me in suspense as much as this title did, especially because Lewis and Clark’s own crew members are far more malicious than the creatures they endure.

Matthew Roberts provides beautiful art.  The entire story takes place in the wilds of America, and he draws Nature untamed perfectly.  Furthermore, when it’s time for over-sized frogs and huge mosquitoes to make their appearances, he draws them as absolute terrors.  Honestly, this is not an overt “horror” title, but there are some horrifying moments, to be sure.

And, just as Roberts knows how to draw our natural world, Owen Gieni always chooses the best colors.  I’ve said this about Gieni before, but how someone can make a title full of earth tones so vivid is beyond me.  I feel colorists are always unappreciated, and so I hope you’ll take a moment to recognize Gieni’s immense talent.

Manifest Destiny has it all.  It’s packed with action, suspense, terrifying monsters, organic dialogue, riveting plots and, as the last issue of this volume proves, some potent moments of hilarity.  By far, this is the most satisfying title I’m currently reading.