If You’re Not Reading Manifest Destiny, You Should Be Ashamed Of Yourself

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I’m trying to put this in the strongest possible terms: you need to start reading Image’s Manifest Destiny. It’s the best comic being published today. Superior Spider-Man and Snyder’s Batman are fine superhero books. Sex Criminals is hilarious and  Pretty Deadly is a poor-man’s Sandman (I mean that as a compliment). Some of the stuff coming out of Valiant is hella original too. But Manifest Destiny written by Chris Dingess with art by Matthew Roberts and Owen Gieni is amazing.

Part of it is the humour. It’s a funny book. The dialogue is very sharp. Another part of it is the amazing, atmospheric art. There’s a clear style here and Roberts is so good at communicating character and emotion through his faces.

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But the crux of this book is its classic adventure narrative. It’s a story about the frontier, the perimeters and boundaries of western civilization. So many great adventure stories are about open space. The Walking Dead is all about space – being out in the open, finding shelter, locking yourself in a prison. Most post-apocalyptic stories are like this; they dramatize and explore the human need to comfort themselves behind walls and control spaces. The delineation of space is the stuff of civilization – my property, your property, public space. Scott Snyder’s The Wake operates on the same theory: the reader is plunged along with the characters deep, deep into a bottomless black ocean. What lurks in the untamed spaces? It’s the premise of almost every horror story.

Manifest Destiny applies this same principle to the American West. Adventurer-Cartographers Lewis and Clark along with a motley band of military volunteers and convicted criminals. Along the way they run into Buffalo-headed minotaurs and plant zombies. They’re aided by the skilled warrior, Sacagawea. Every issue of this series is filled with an uncanny mixture of comedy and dread.

If you enjoy some of the more oddball stuff coming out of Image these days – Pretty Deadly, Sex Criminals, Black Science – you’ll love Manifest Destiny.

If you’ve only read superhero stuff to date and you’ve never really been tempted by “indie” comics, now’s the time. Manifest Destiny is accessible and incredible. If you like Brian Michael Bendis’ dialogue or enjoy Archer & Armstrong, you’ll love Manifest Destiny.

There’s so much to like about this book. It’s the most satisfying read from my pull-list week-in, week-out. If you’re not reading it, you don’t like good comics.

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