This week I am going to talk about a book I have talked about a few times already, Image’s Manifest Destiny #18 by Chris Dingess with art by Matthew Roberts. While I usually try to avoid reviewing the same title multiple times, something happened in this issue that I just have to talk about.
So a quick rundown of what happened in Manifest Destiny #18: It starts with Lewis, Clark and the rest of the crew dealing with the dreaded Vameter. The Vameter steals the head of one of the soldiers, kills a few more, and tries to kill the rest but is, in turn, killed by the surviving members, each grabbing an axe to finish the job. The crew is rewarded by the Fezron with a feast, where they release the captive Charbonneau and eat the Vameter. The crew however leaves the festivities to make Collins an (honorary) soldier, and to prepare. They prepare to go back and fulfill the rest of their mission… which was to wipe out every single Fezron they can.
The book was, as always, very well written and marked the end of one arc while seamlessly progressing the narrative. Chris Dingess has a great grasp on how to pace his story and I feel like he has a plan progresses rather well. The art is awesome, again as always. It’s a great tone for the book. The best page is the final full-page splash of Collins face while he shoots a pleading Fezron. The art and the writing meld together perfectly here as the flash of the gun bathes Collins’ face in white, while two lone, bright-blue feathers float up. The text is in two parts, a journal entry talking about how what the crew did that night would be a betrayal of the word “admirably”, and then Collins saying “I’m Sorry”. All of this mixed with the pained look on Collin’s face is why I read this book. It’s pulled off perfectly.
Which brings me to WHY I am reviewing Manifest Destiny again, and that would be the handling of the Fezron massacre. We have seen Lewis and Clark come up against some pretty strange stuff, Buffalo Centaurs, Plant Zombies, a giant toad, giant mosquitoes (though being from Manitoba that didn’t surprise me), a culture of bird people (the Fezron) and the vicious Vameter. When facing all of these things they have barely escaped, have had their crew decimated, and have been studied and discussed so much that we forget the point of the mission is not to just explore new territories but also to cleanse them. I forgot, due to some of amazing writing, that the point of their mission was to dispatch any threats to potential settlers coming into the area. Now everything we have seen them deal with so far has been marked by trials and tribulations, but the Fezron are a different story. The entire tribe is easily dealt with as its members are in a drunken slumber.
Honestly the sudden darkness and intensity with which they are executed caught me so offguard, and made me see many of my beloved characters in a new light, that I couldn’t help but stare at the page in amazement. It also shows how good of a writer Chris Dingess is because, while I see these characters slightly differently, I also see why they are doing what they are doing. Some are doing it because they are vicious killers, some because they want revenge, and the rest are honor-bound to do so because of orders from superiors. I also know that there is going to be fallout from these events in the next arc, especially when news gets back to the civilians on the ship about what happened.
This is the best issue of this title so far. It reinforces a part of their mission that has fallen by the wayside and shows that the crew can be as ruthless as the land they are exploring. As much as I hate what they did in wiping out a civilization, it was also kind of cool to see the crew, who has been beaten again and again, finally get some vengeance. This issue is taking the book in a new direction by turning back toward one of its original roles — I could not be happier.
This book easily gets a 5/5 and is always this good. Seriously if you have not read it, start reading it. There are 3 collected volumes out or coming out, which will include this issue. It may just be because of my passion for history, or my love of good story telling, but either way this is one of my favorite books and it will be until it’s finished!