Many Americans know the story of Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, the two explorers sent by Thomas Jefferson to map out and find a route West to the Pacific Ocean.
The Image Comics series Manifest Destiny asks what if Lewis and Clark had another mission: seek out and destroy the monsters that could threaten the nascent country as its people push westwards. Review for the first volume, Flora & Fauna, after the cut.
Lewis and Clark, along with their extended expeditionary force of soldiers and convicts, are sailing west, collecting specimens and keeping an eye on their men. Lewis, acting as narrator, keeps a journal and makes the scientific notes. Clark, something of a crack shot, mostly seems to discipline the men when they get out of line, often with a whip. These two alone know the expedition’s true purpose.
Things seem more or less normal until the group spots a giant arch made of plant matter, probably at the spot of real-world, modern day St. Louis. From there, Lewis, Clark, and their men have encounters with savage buffalo/human hybrids, plant-based zombie creatures, and a particularly badass Sacagawea. Sacagawea’s purpose on the trip so far is unexplained, but her French fur trapper “husband” seems to know it, and Lewis only hints at it. Given her ability to kill things, it may not go well with the guys when she (and the reader) find out why they want her along.
Writer Chris Dingess has a light, fun story here. Complimented nicely by Matthew Roberts’ art, nothing in Manifest Destiny is likely to blow the reader away, but it perhaps isn’t supposed to. This one is clearly just for fun, and the book accomplishes that without a problem. Nine out of ten crates of Greek fire.