In Manifest Destiny #42, from Image Comics, the journey ever westwards continues.  After the fallout from the previous issue, tensions are running high, and suspicions are felt by all.  With men being picked off one by one by the terrors of the American heartland, can Lewis and Clark safely navigate their way to safety?  Find out in your Major Spoilers review!

Manifest Destiny #42 ReviewMANIFEST DESTINY #42

Writer: Chris Dingess
Artist: Matthew Roberts
Colorist: Owen Gieni
Letterer:  Pat Brosseau
Editor: Sean Mackiewicz
Publisher:  Image Comics, Inc. & Skybound
Price: $3.99
Release Date:  March 11th, 2020

Previously in MANIFEST DESTINY:  In 1804, at the behest of the third US President, Thomas Jefferson, Captain Meriwether Lewis and Second Lieutenant William Clark began an expedition that would chart the interior of the continent from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean.  In our time, they helped open up the West, for good and ill.  But in Manifest Destiny, an altogether darker, more mystical adventure has provided terrifying discoveries indeed…

CHASE THE SUN

As an avid fan of American history, the adventures of Lewis and Clark at the beginning of the 19th century excited me when I was a boy reading about them.  It is fascinating to think, over four decades later, that discovering Manifest Destiny has rekindled that excitement.

Long time readers of Manifest Destiny will know what this series is all about: with the West opening up to the new American Republic, Jefferson sent off an expedition to map the interior with a view to future claims on the continent.  With the French and Spanish in retreat, and the British more or less deciding to stay in Canada, a new idea gripped Americans – a nation for a continent.

Of course, in Manifest Destiny, things are a little different – the expeditioners discover that the heartland of America is full of strange creatures, lost civilisations, and ancient terrors.  There can be no turning back, and as Manifest Destiny #42 amply demonstrates, the way forward is just as deadly.

Writer Chris Dingess is an old hand at this by now, having shaped the narrative over more than forty issues.  The sparseness of his writing, particularly the diary entries, contains a power in it that propels the story forward.  The matter of fact tone describing the two deaths that occur in this issue are almost at the level of a documentary – a sort of ‘Just the facts, ma’am’ feel that makes the impact that much more greater.

His characterisation is also splendid.  His Sergeant Burton conveys his tension in just a few word balloons.  The burgeoning friendship of Sergeant Russell and his boon companion Randolph, in Dingess’ hands, blooms into something deeper.  It’s this sort of confident characterisation that gives the desperation and horror of the situation the heft to make it impact the reader.

ARTISTIC TERRAIN

Special praise has to go to artist Matthew Roberts and colorist Owen Gieni.  Working together, they have created some of the most striking artwork I’ve seen in 2020.  There’s always something to see in Roberts’ panels, without them ever feeling so crowded that you don’t immediately understand what you are looking at. His linework is strong without dominating the images.  Gieni’s coloring is simply beautiful, bringing the vibrancy of the untouched American wilderness to verdant life.  There’s a painterly feel to his coloring, which is never bold or dominating, but still catches the eye.  Some of the art, particularly pieces like the winged serpent attack on a soldier, would look lovely poster sized.

BOTTOM LINE:  FASCINATING

Manifest Destiny #42 balances story and characters to strong effect.  There’s a sense of a deep backstory, built up over many issues, that is never so deep new readers will feel excluded.  In fact, so well handled is the story, that anyone new to the series is likely to want to leap back to the beginning to experience its evolution.


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Manifest Destiny #42

87%
87%
Fascinating

A desperate tale of escape, by a desperate and disparate band of characters. Elements of American folklore abound in this tale of frontier exploration, as does the sense that the cast are heading for a momentous showdown as they approach the Pacific Coast.

  • Writing
    8
  • Art
    9
  • Coloring
    9
  • User Ratings (0 Votes)
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About Author

Romantic. Raconteur. Kangaroo rustler. Sadly, Rob is none of these. Rob has been a follower of genre since at least the mid-1970s. Book collector, Doctor Who fan, semi-retired podcaster, comic book shop counter jockey, writer (once!) in Doctor Who Magazine and with pretensions to writing fantasy and horror, Rob is the sort of fellow you can happily embrace while wondering why you're doing it. More of his maudlin thoughts can be found at his ill-tended blog https://robertmammone.wordpress.com/

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