By Chris Dingess, Matthew Roberts & Owen Gieni
One of the fun things about all of the new Image series that launch every year is find that random one by a somewhat unknown creative team that just hits that sweet spot. Series like Ghosted, Sheltered and now Manifest Destiny feel like they literally came out of nowhere and hook the reader every month with a gripping story and eye-catching art. Telling the untold tales of Lewis and Clark’s expedition through an unexplored North America, Manifest Destiny find a way to mix historical fiction with a sci-fi/horror touch that is addicting, making it one of the series I personally look forward to every month.
Issue four picks up with our group of adventurers stuck inside Fort La Charrette with plant-based zombies inside with them and buffalo centaurs waiting for them outside. Digness has done such an excellent job at not only pacing this series but also keep a looming sense of intensity in every issue that is very alluring. There are two main points that are addressed this issue, one is the group trying to figure out a strategy to escape from the fort and back to their ship. Secondly, the introduction of Toussaint Charbonneau and native female warrior, Sacagawea. Charbonneau, being the main reason Lewis and Clark originally stopped here to pick him up as a guide, cleverly brings the story back around close to where it started. Sacagawea, on the other hand, as we saw this issue (and a glimpse of in the last), is obviously the best defense this group will have against the supernatural threats facing our adventurers and their crew. This issue seems to be the build up to not only the crew escaping but also a coming transition into whatever Digness has planned next for this series.
Both Roberts and Gieni’s combined artistic talents are a very big part of what makes Manifest Destiny so appealing. For being a build up issue there are a few stand out panels in this issue. One particular image was a page that showed a pile of burning zombie corpses and the main image of a close-up of a burning zombie skull was both grotesque and striking to look at. Without spoiling anything, the last page reveal was also equal parts shocking and stunning. Gieni’s colors are so prominent in this series that make every page so visually stunning without being a distraction. It’s easy when writing a period piece, such as Manifest Destiny, to go with more subdued colors and even try for a sepia-based historic feeling, but Gieni finds a perfect middle ground that is so eye-catching it draws you in as a reader. Personally, I think Manifest Destiny has one of the best art teams out on the shelves right now.
For only having four issues of Manifest Destiny released so far, each one feels so full and rich that it seems like you got a lot in every issue without the story feeling rushed. There really hasn’t been a boring issue of Manifest Destiny yet. This series truly is a reader’s delight between the stunning art team, original concept and Digness’ perfectly plotted flow. For me, it’s easy to say this is one of the best series out there that I’m excited to read every month.