Manifest Destiny is a tale that thankfully my United States History teachers didn’t tell me when I was back in high school. American readers will know the historic tale of Lewis and Clark exploring the wilderness of the United States with Sacajawea. So what happens when author Chris Dingess and artists Matthew Roberts and Owen Gieni take a stab at the story? Plants zombies and Buffalo-tars for starters. With a crew of family-less men and criminals desperate for their freedom, the Lewis and Clark crew sets off to explore, document, and fight off hostile forces while they take a good look at the unexplored land of a wilderness America. The story is told by a naturalist as he takes his notes and write in his journal of the new discoveries and dangers the crew faces. The approach a settlement that has seemingly been abandoned due to a terrible illness. Any person in their right mind would quit and run away, but Lewis and Clark are keeping back a secret; they are under direct orders from President Thomas Jefferson to stop the monsters in the way of Westward expansion and total domination.
This book is without a doubt not something you should read right before bed, gardening, or after eating a big meal. Gory images of hatchetts in heads and plant life acting as an agent for chest bursting will likely turn your stomach and draw you in with a whisper of “what the hell just happened.” Several of the panels I had to keep looking at over and over, much like passing a terrible car crash on the road. One particular character, an ex-criminal, spends so much of this book talking about lady parts I wondered if he had ever actually seen a woman. Racism is abound and the only character who seems to have any idea of what they are actually doing is Sacajawea.
Manifest Destiny is just plain weird and unsettling. Lewis and Clark may not have been the best of men, but this book makes sure that after reading you’re a lot more uncomfortable with even the mention of their names. If you’re in the market for a comic book where bears attack as plant roots shoot out of their guts this is definitely the comic for you.
Manifest Destiny is now available from Image Comics.