Graphic Novelty²


Chris Dingess

Manifest Destiny: Volumes Seven & Eight

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:

Volume One

Volumes Two-Four

Volumes Five- Six

Manifest Destiny: Volumes Five & Six

The reimaging of the Lewis and Clark expedition continues as history, colonization and government conspiracies are shaken up together into a unique tale about the Corps of Discovery.

Volume Five: Mnemphobia & Chronophobia

In November of 1804, Fort Mandan is built in North Dakota so the corps could winter safely before continuing on their journey in the spring. As soon as the fort is finished, a dense fog rolls in and everyone begins to experience paranoia and delusions.  All the creatures that the corps have encountered seem to come at them, and the past sins of the soldiers come back to haunt them. Thus the title of the book comes into focus, as the fear of memories and anxiety over the passage of time is shown.  It is during this chaos that Sacagawea goes into labor while battling her own private demons. Little Jean Baptsite’s birth is tempered by the knowledge of the subterfuge Lewis and Clark are planning regarding the infant and Sacagawea’s strange acquiescence about it.

The art remains strong with layouts that are fresh and unique. The era is beautifully rendered with the clothing, guns, buildings and landscapes accurately drawn. Plus the creatures are freakishly awesome!

Volume Six: Fortis & Invisibilia

Mutiny! A few weeks after the dangerous fog, nerves are frayed and Lewis is obsessively monitoring the arch discovered nearby. Sargeant Pryor preaches to the soldiers and develops a following, creating a rift between those who align with him, and those that stay true to Lewis and Clark. Eventually, Pryor plans a coup and the leaders are ejected from the fort along with others. The ghostly conquistador from Volume Four is moving between soldiers hoping to find the strongest leader to fulfill his diabolical plan for conquest. This volume was a bit of a convoluted mess, and I was having trouble keeping straight who was who among the soldiers.

This story dragged for me, as two volumes have been set in the fort, and the dead of winter hasn’t even begun. They need to pick up the pace of the storytelling for there is still much to tell of the journey, and they are nowhere near the Pacific Northwest yet. I checked when the next issue is out, and I don’t see a date yet, so I am worried that this series will ignobly end before the journey can be properly told. Despite my rough start with this series and these shaky middle volumes, I hope the entire scope of this re-imagined journey can be properly told.


Read the proceeding volumes: Volume One, Volumes Two-Four

Manifest Destiny: Volumes Two-Four

Two years ago when I read Volume One: Flora & Fauna of this series that reimages the Lewis and Clark expedition, I hated it. I was turned off by the historical inaccuracies and the crudeness of the characters. But I recently decided to give it another go and picked up the next three volumes.

Never say never.

Volume Two: Amphibia & Insecta

In the first volume, Lewis and Clark and their expedition encountered a living arch, Minotaur type creatures who are half human/half bison and vegetation that takes over people and turns them into plant zombies. The remaining crew, plus a pregnant Sacagawea and her husband, and a few survivors of the doomed settlement La Charette uneasily continue westward on the Missouri River. When their boat gets stuck in the middle of the river, Lewis swims under it to find it attached to an underwater arch. A Cthulhu-type frog creature attacks them, plus they encounter huge mosquitos and one other monster. We also get a flashback to President Jefferson recruiting Lewis and Clark and view the strange skull he has in his possession that led to him ordering the expedition.

Volume Three: Chiroptera & Carniformaves

More monsters. More mayhem. This volume leaves no doubt that when an arch is discovered, there’s always some sort of monster lurking nearby. In this volume, two bird like creatures are discovered, one of which requires a new human head to be placed on it’s monstrous body in order to survive. They also warily befriend a colony of giant blue birds that speak English to them and help them defeat the vampire bird. What Lewis and Clark do at the end of this volume is heartbreaking; what they order is cruel, vicious and unwarranted, but mirrors white colonization.

We get our first clue that this 1804 expedition is not the first that Jefferson sent out. We get a small flashback to 1801 and are introduced to Captain Helm and what we assume was a failed mission. We also get some backstory of Sacagawea’s childhood and how she was raised to be a warrior.

Volume Four: Sasquatch

Guess what creatures we meet next? We start off with a lengthy look at Captain Helm’s 1801 mission and how his expedition wintered in the Pacific Northwest. He too had figured out that arches meant danger, so he and his crew build a cabin where they don’t see any arches. But a mysterious soldier from America’s distant past contacts him and helps him hunt Sasquatches for food, as Helm’s crew is starving. Then, Helm’s story goes completely off the rails- and I loved it. Helm goes bat sh*t crazy after what he endures, and late in the book we discover that Lewis and Clark did meet him. So the subterfuge goes deep with Lewis and Clark knowingly taking their crew into danger. But despite Helm’s warnings, you see on the last page they have made a deadly mistake when snow reveals something they did not see earlier, as they too are preparing a cabin to stay in through the upcoming winter.

I have discovered that I should not always give up on a series when the first volume rubs me the wrong way, as this recently happened in Northlanders too. Yes, I still have issues with some of the depictions of the characters but the way that history, colonization and government conspiracies are shaken up together have made for some interesting stories. And the art- well, that’s what has truly made the series. Matthew Roberts has done his research on the era and regions in which they are traveling through. His creatures rival Lovecraft’s with detail and imagination. I admit, I will be picking up future volumes and read it to the end of their journey.


Dingess, Chris, Matthew Roberts, Owen Gieni. Manifest Destiny. Volumes Two-Four. 



Manifest Destiny: Volume One

Lewis and Clark…Sacagawea…exploring new lands…meeting new people…the adventure of a lifetime- what could possibly go wrong???

As coincidence would have it, I was reading this book while my family was in St. Louis, where this adventure gets it’s start. It was a neat juxtaposition to compare the pictures of the Mississippi and the arch in the book, to what the city and surrounding area look like now. What starts out as what you imagine the expedition looked like in 1804, quickly takes a sharp left turn when the group encounters a living arch, Minotaur-type creatures who are half human/ half bison, and vegetation that take over people turning them into plant zombies. Sacagawea is introduced as a mysterious warrior along with her disgusting husband Charbonneau.

I had SO many problems with this book. I thought at first, cool, this story will be fun. It was not. What upset me the most was how Sacagawea was portrayed. It first must be noted that I don’t like when historical women are misrepresented to the public. The Disney movie about Pocahontas and the Fox movie about Anastasia drive me wild with how inaccurate they are and my worry that youth will watch them and think they are historically factual.  While I understand that no one is reading this graphic novel for its accuracy, I was pissed at how she was portrayed. She was sexualized and crude comments were made about her by some of the men. This then leads to my next complaint- the mature content. This was some of my own doing for I failed to notice the small notice on the back that it was rated M. It’s not that I’m a prude, I read and enjoy The Walking Dead and Locke & Key that incorporate sexuality into their stories, but in this story is seemed gratuitous. I think younger boys might gravitate towards this book that is labeled action/adventure and then be introduced to some wildly inappropriate remarks and pictures while reading the novel.

So Image Comics takes history, government conspiracies, and re-images (get my pun?) the events by shaking it all together into what I consider a convoluted mess. There are future volumes, as this first volume only covers the beginning of the journey. I am vaguely interested in the Sacagawea plot line and what subterfuge Lewis and Clark hinted at regarding her and her future infant and how it will play out, plus I know the expedition will be eventually encountering Big Foot/Sasquatch, so I might skim future volumes just so I can get upset again 😉


Manifest pic
Heeeellp…you are about to be taken on a convoluted ride!!!

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