Written by Christopher Dingess
Pencils by Matthew Roberts
Colors by Owen Gieni
Published by Skybound Entertainment

manifestdest01_coverYour middle school U.S. history class crashed right into the middle of your favorite sci-fi novel in this new comic from Christopher Dingess and Matthew Roberts. This gorgeously, albeit traditionally, paneled book introduces you to the lives and living conditions of the men working with Lewis & Clark on their 1804 expedition across America to map the great frontier. However, something more sinister is brewing as journals from Lewis reveal that there is a secret mission at play for the pair that most of their crew is not aware they are undertaking.

Monsters are surrounding them, and they have been commissioned to hunt them down and clear the way for the expanding population of the world’s newest sovereign country. Of course, most of the action and monsters of this book is packed into the last few panels. This first issue deals more with the relationships and personalities that will be at play through this series. Lewis is shown as the scientist, Clark the military leader and the crew which is not entirely trustworthy due to a criminal past.

Those who are sticklers for historical accuracy might be slightly uneasy with the set-up presented. As two major U.S. historical figures, Dingess is taking a major gamble in playing with their lives, even in a fictional setting. However, once Abraham Lincoln was made a vampire hunter in a novel and Jane Austen classics were made into zombie genre stories in both novel and graphic novel format, is anything still sacred?

If playing with the historical timelines does not make you squeamish then you will have no problem dealing with the personalities at play and the subterfuge involved on multiple levels. Matthew Roberts’ art and Owen Gieni’s colors do not hurt either. While somewhat rough feeling at first, the style perfectly suits the westward venturing storyline. In some cases the panels can be almost breathtaking, especially when the supernatural begins to take over the story. In this last part readers are only given a taste. While the threat to the group is not immediate by the end of the book the intrigue and how this will resolve in future issues wets your appetite for more.

During the actual westward expansion of America, there were plenty of people and species that America misplaced, hunted and threatened. From Native Americans forced off their lands to walk the “Trail of Tears” to the hunting of buffalo to near extension, those heading west were hunting “monsters” in their minds. What this series does is that it takes that very idea and turn it on its head by creating literal monsters that this group is after. How far of a stretch is the reality from the truth? Perhaps not as far as we’d like to think. If you are looking for a book that is different from your everyday fare, than the ideal of America’s destiny to expand westward and slay the beasts that stand in their way will hold both a literal and metaphorical brain exercise for you while reading this book.

The Verdict: 7.5/10


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