Important Note Dept: As you can probably guess, I’ve been a bit busy with Real Life(TM) this summer, and while I’ve been productive at many things, I sure as hell have not been productive at blogging—I’ve been reading at a glacial pace, which caused my writing to lag as well since I need to, y’know, read things before I can review them. Rather than disappoint everyone with silence, instead I’ll just post reviews of things most of you don’t care about: graphic novel reviews and art posts! I have a bunch of short graphic novel reviews stockpiled on Goodreads and elsewhere, and some half-completed art posts I can finish up. What a time to be alive!
It’s 1804, and Captain Meriwether Lewis and Second Lieutenant William Clark have set out on a grand expedition to cross the United States. What the official histories don’t tell is their secret mission, to find and eradicate monsters. Because the West is apparently teeming with monsters, from buffalo-centaurs to plant zombies spawned from a massive flytrap-like flower. Along for the ride are soldiers, conscripted prisoners (with their own ideas for survival), and an inventive take on Sacagawea (who is admittedly a lot more sexualized than I would have expected).
The plot is pretty standard adventure fare here, with the first arc mostly taken up with introducing the cast, watching them come to terms with their supernatural surroundings, and fighting off the aforementioned plant-zombie infestation. I can’t complain about the writing or plot; it’s all a bit by-the-numbers so far and I’m not sure what it’s leading up to yet (history tells us they survive and the monsters all go extinct, right?), but I like the potential it offers, and the action is quite compelling. I dig the art by Matthew Roberts and coloring by Owen Gieni; it’s brilliant and evocative without being too stylized. There’s a keen attention to detail here, especially in the portrayal of the characters (where even secondary characters are unique and distinct among the crowd).
This is a promising debut; it hasn’t entirely surprised or wowed me yet (other Image series like Saga may have set the bar for a first volume quite high), but there’s a lot of potential for it to blow my mind; it’s a solid read that hopefully leads to great things. Despite sounding like a “weird western” it’s more akin to The Autumnlands than it is to weird western horror-type things, like The Sixth Gun or Deadlands, but it’s still a cool concept and neat take on the subgenre. If you like fantasy-horror in a western Americana setting it is definitely worth looking into.
Do I recommend this/will I continue reading it?: Yes, I plan on picking up future volumes, though would preferably get them during a sale.
Recommended for fans of: The Autumnlands, Pretty Deadly, The Sixth Gun, East of West, Wynonna Earp, Hell On Wheels, weird west or fantasy/Americana mashups.
Not recommended for readers who: are allergic to fantasy or westerns, who are sick to death of zombies, or who can’t suspend disbelief about fantastic monsters living on the Colonial North American prairie.
Title: Manifest Destiny, Vol. 1: Flora & Fauna
Author: Chris Dingess
Illustrator: Matthew Roberts
First Published: 2014
What I Read: Image Comics, 2014
Price I Paid: $3.99 (Kindle/Comixology sale)
MSRP: $9.99 tpb / $7.99 ebook
ISBN/ASIN: 1607069822 / B015XAYMSW