by Chris Dingess, Matthew Roberts and Owen Gieni
Go west and go wild, this is the first chapter of Manifest Destiny’s second story arc. After strange adventures on land, the crew decides to continue their exploration on the river. The slow boat setting allows readers to get more familiar with the motley crew. Not only is the river water murky so too are the agendas of the crew sailing them.
Manifest Destiny begins its second arc with a premise and character reminder. There are a few pages of text box exposition, a good summary for new readers and a recap for those who have been on the expedition from the start. New crew member Madame Boniface is given more depth; she might even rival Lewis in matters of scientific investigation. Madame Boniface’s own investigation could create a rift between Lewis and Clark, giving the new story arc a new level of suspense. Nothing is quite as it seems in this title and the river is no exception. The river setting adds a new level excitement to the existing thrill ride that is this book. However, the thrill ride only kicks in toward the end of the issue. The narrative in the beginning of the book is necessary to the plot and it is executed nicely with promise of a payoff in future issues. As with previous installments, Manifest Destiny ends with a wonderfully exciting full page cliffhanger.
Chris Dingess is creating a bigger mystery by way of the developments in the plot that occur in this issue. Dingess gives a peek of the characters back stories which answer a few questions but toward the middle of the book create more. Dingess hints that the strange encounters in the first story arc may not be a rare find but a part of something bigger. There is evidence that there is a bigger plan behind the monsters and strange occurrences, which sets this book apart from the average western action and adventure drama. To Dingess credit, ending each issue in the fashion that he does, makes this an exciting monthly read and seems to fit naturally for trade paperback readings as well.
Matthew Roberts and Owen Giene make readers believe that they are reading a classic illustrated book. The art style and muted colors provide the authenticity to persuade readers that these fantastic adventures are plucked straight from a historical adventure novel. Roberts fills each page with fine details and rich backgrounds that allow readers escape to the Wild West. Unique panel placements during character flashbacks provide a complimentary flow to the narrative. Giene adds depth and shading creating a western sensibility to Roberts’ outdoor scenes cape.
Manifest Destiny begins its sophomore story arc in a new setting. New character developments and a brief cast summary to introduce new readers to the motley crew make this a good jumping on point. Dingess and Roberts hint that not everything is as random as it appeared in the first story arc and the suspense that this title is known for kicks in toward the end of the issue and pays off with a nice splash page cliffhanger. This is the type of storytelling that makes readers come back month after month.