"Manifest Destiny #34" Comic Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Image Comics / Skybound
Written by Chris Dingess
Illustrated by Matthew Roberts
Colored by Owen Gieni
2018, 32 Pages, $3.99
Comic released on March 28th, 2018
The Corps of Discovery is in the midst of mutiny as Lewis and Clark lose control of their troops. The holy roller Pryor has turned everyone against the explorers and for good reason. They've watched as their comrades have been picked off one by one by creatures that should not exist. Now they're camping out in a fort they've built nearby a mysterious arch that has already swallowed up one of the soldiers.
This uprising has been building in Manifest Destiny for some time. As we learn more and more about the true nature of Lewis & Clark's mission to make the Western United States safe for the settlers on the way, you have to wonder just how dark this expedition is going to get. While Pryor and the other mutinous characters are minor in terms of the storyline, they've all had their time in the spotlight and, when put together, they make for an impressive force.
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There's a wide variety of emotion at work in this issue and artist Matthew Roberts captures them all. There's surprise, anger, disgust, and so much more. Seeing the smug look on Pryor's face makes me want to slap it off him. He's in total control here and doesn't lose his cool, even when things don't go entirely his way.
Part of this is due to the time we've spent with these characters. We've seen them go through some terrible losses and some fantastic wins. Their adventures have left some of them scarred, both physically and emotionally. It's interesting to see who falls on which side of the mutiny, especially since Lewis & Clark have provided numerous reasons for any and all of them to revolt.
There are some great open shots that show just how alone these folks are. Their fort is basically in the middle of nowhere and you get that sense when they take off running only to be surrounded by nothing but white snow. This base is the one solace they have in the area so if they lose it, their chances at making it through this winter, let alone against whatever else is lurking in the woods, drop considerably.
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Colorist Owen Gieni highlights the moments of violence well, shading the panels in a bright red. It adds some additional emphasis to the act and sets it apart from the verbal negotiation going on.
Although this issue is light on monsters, we do get a return appearance of the ghost of the Spanish conquistador, Maldonado. He's a bug in the ear of some of the travelers, allegedly guiding them through this harsh terrain and even harsher creatures. Despite these claims, he cannot be trusted as he's already bounced between a few folks, basically jumping on the bandwagon of whoever shows the best chances of survival.
Manifest Destiny makes even an issue devoid of monsters terrifying as we've become so invested in these characters and their lives. It's hard not to get caught up in this story from writer Chris Dingess when these people feel so real. We understand the stakes involved as we've had a peek into Lewis & Clark's true mission, but not everyone is aware of that. These actions could doom not just everyone in the nearby vicinity, but everyone that is looking to head out west.