Manifest Destiny Volume 1: Flora & Fauna Review.

From Image Comics. Chris Dingess, Matthew Roberts, Owen Gieni.

Imagine if you possibly can right now, a not united states. Accurate communication and information is hard to come by. Tall tales and doubt abound. An unknown entity is killing people off. Those in the middle of the journey crave a map showing the end but unfortunately they are the ones creating that map.

No, this is not a take on the current state of the world during the Coronavirus pandemic. This is a sensationalized tale of the Lewis and Clark expedition. Call up your history teacher and get a refresh because this comic depends on you having the baseline education school should have provided. Lewis and Clark are going to set off across this new land and map the continent until they reach the end. They are joined by Sacagawea and her husband Toussaint Charbonneau who both have more knowledge than they are letting on.

So what could be out there? This great grand continent full of animals and plants unknown to Europeans. In just this first volume there is all sorts of madness. Beasts, monsters, parasites, possession, sickness, murder, mutants. It might be the closest I’ve felt since first reading The Walking Dead. Here is an entire world that is familiar yet strange. We follow a group of ordinary people as they adjust to an extraordinary world. Horrible things happen to the people along the way, but we can never forget that people can also be horrible.

The writing is a study in giving exposition without insulting the audience. Immediately up to speed on who and what this expedition is, and furthermore the twist in this telling. Every new ‘thing’ discovered is examined as part of the expedition and we the readers are given as much understanding as the characters are. Enough to move forward with the mission yet continue to be caught off guard by every shadow and sound.

It is that sound that pushes this comic onto the top of the pull list and an immediate read. I have never experienced a comic that sounds better. Let me explain. There is a scene, and I don’t want to ruin it because the surprises made reading the book even more enjoyable, but a scene in which a previously unknown creature comes through the woods at our group of explorers. Somehow in static art there is this sense of tension I can best compare to right before the dinosaurs stampede in the fist Jurassic Park movie. The characters aren’t frozen because it’s a drawing. They’re frozen because of that chill in the air, that sound in the distance, that awareness that something is nigh, but what?

I held this comic up to my wife and said “supernatural Lewis and Clark”. She said, put it right there next to the book I’m about to finish. My only complaint is waiting for stores to open back up so I can get my hands on later volumes. It’s history, horror, and more all in one. Familiar, yet giving the reader an escape that I think we all need right now.

Highly recommended.

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