Lewis and Clark…Sacagawea…exploring new lands…meeting new people…the adventure of a lifetime- what could possibly go wrong??? The reimaging of the Lewis and Clark expedition draws to a close as history, colonization and government conspiracies are shaken up together into a unique tale about the Corps of Discovery- taking ten years from the first issue to the last, despite the real expedition only taking two and a half years!
Volume Seven: Talpa Lumbricus & Lepus
The Lewis and Clark expedition finally continues, two years after the last volume came out. I believe the author wishes to speed up the narrative, as volumes five and six had dragged with the motley crew wintering in North Dakota during which time Sacagawea gave birth to her little boy, and in this volume, they break camp and journey quite far towards the Pacific Ocean. Arches always mean danger and indeed that proves true several times, with a tribe of women who become bloodthirsty jackalopes being especially deadly for some foolish men who had other things in mind. Some well-drawn Lovecraftian creatures attack and the crew is winnowed down, but Lewis and Clark adopt a new strategy of just surviving the journey and not putting themselves or the crew in any more danger than necessary. The confusing last pages give us a cliffhanger, but with our current Covid crisis, will this series be once again delayed or even finished? (Review back from 2020)
Volume Eight: Sacrificium & Reditus
Author Chris Dingess brings the story home in this last volume! The sacrifice that has been alluded to the entire series is averted, and the final demon monster they face removes all the other deadly monsters that the Corps of Discovery encountered on their journey. They are finally able to journey back home safely, haunted by what they saw and did. The conclusion was sobering, as it was in real life, with poor Sacagawea and York getting the brunt of misfortune. That Lewis committed suicide a few years after returning, showed the toll the journey took on him. Make sure you read the notes at the end, with letters from Dingess, Roberts and the evocative colorist Owen Gieni. (On a side note- look up the meanings of all the book titles in this series- they are sly ways of hinting at what awaits you in the story!)
I struggled with this series at first, as I found the historical inaccuracies troubling, and I disliked how Sacagawea was sexualized. But I gave it another chance, and from volume two onward, I enjoyed the story (if not the pacing of the narrative). While the story arc might have started out as soldiers on a monster hunting expedition, it was Lewis & Clark, and many of their crew that turned out to be the monsters in how they acted and the choices they made. But to me, it was the art that truly made the series. Matthew Roberts did his research on the era and regions in which they are traveling through. His creatures rival Lovecraft’s with detail and imagination. From the minotaurs, plant zombies, Cthulhu-type frog creatures, Sasquatch, frightful birds and a ghostly conquistador- all were fantastic.
This was an intriguing series, and I am so glad it made it to the finish line. I assume that Dingess and Roberts had other commitments they needed to tend to pay the bills that delayed some of the later volumes, in addition to the Covid crisis. This passion project of theirs was worth the wait, and I will never look at an arch in the same way!
Read the rest of the series: