It’s 1804 on the American frontier. Captain Meriwether Lewis and Second Lieutenant William Clark lead an expedition to explore the west and map a route to the sea. The explorers have assembled a crew of hard men from the new American states to join them on their journey. But the men under their command do not know the secret orders Lewis and Clark have received: To clear the territories west of the Mississippi of the mysterious, primeval monsters that roam the wilderness.
In just three issues, Chris Dingess’ comic book series Manifest Destiny has distinguished itself with a fanciful take on history and an awestruck view of the power of the old American wild. The buffalo-men and plant zombies (and who knows what other creatures) running rampant across the Louisiana Territory make for great comic-book villains, but they’re also potent stand-ins for the fecund western wilderness itself, which in our world has been relentlessly subdued since that 1804 journey of discovery. (Not to mention for the native peoples exterminated throughout the 19th century.) In the world of Manifest Destiny, though, the taming of the West is no sure thing.
Much of the power in Manifest Destiny comes from Matthew Roberts’ vivid illustrations, which mix classic comics character design with vivid visions of the monsters of the American imagination. We’re very pleased to have Roberts illustrating the January issue of the Slate Book Review.
Manifest Destiny by Chris Dingess, Matthew Roberts, and Owen Gieni. Image Comics.