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Manifest Destiny: Flora & Fauna (Image Comics, 2013; #1-6)

Fantasy quests are nothing new in comics. But Manifest Destiny takes a different approach to crafting its world. Which is to say, it doesn’t take place in some far off kingdom. Instead, its setting is the Louisiana Purchase.

Its heroes are Lewis and Clark, exploring Thomas Jefferson’s new land acquisition west of the Mississippi River. While they set out—as you learned if you took an American history class—to map the continent, their job became more difficult than they expected once they crossed the river. As it would happen, this new land is full of strange cryptids and lethal, zombie-hivemind plants. Fortunately for them, a young warrior named Sacajawea comes to their aid.

So much of the world-building in Manifest Destiny comes from Matthew Roberts and Owen Gieni’s art. Roberts’s lines are stylized enough for green zombies with vines growing through their eyes or top-half-buffalo-bottom-half-horse centaurs to seem at home next to real people who actually existed. Gieni’s colors hew toward natural tones. He plays with color temperature and saturation to swing from brightly lit campfires to pale, decaying corpses in a beat.

This is a fun book. It combines historical fiction, fantasy, and survival horror to make something distinct and different. And it looks great. If you like any two of those things, Manifest Destiny is a no-brainer.

Collected in

  • Manifest Destiny, Vol. 1: Flora & Fauna (#1-6)

Credits

Writer: Chris Dingess | Artist: Matthew Roberts | Colorist: Owen Gieni | Letterer: Pat Brosseau | Editor: Sean Mackiewicz

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