Manifest Destiny #24:

Making Camp

The latest Manifest Destiny brings the “Sasquatch” story arc to an end in fairly spectacular fashion. These story arcs function quite a bit like seasons of television, and Chris Dingess has fashioned a whopper of a finale in issue #24. The art team of Matthew Roberts and Owen Gieni reach new heights here: there are panels in this issue that are literally the most effective, beautiful and haunting to appear in this comic, combining classic American landscape art in the romantic tradition with top-notch grotesque modern comics styles.

For once, it would be quite imprudent to discuss plot points here in this particular review. There are many significant revelations, including one in particular towards the end of the issue that links the Lewis and Clark expedition to the 1801 mission of Captain Helm. (“Private Dawes” makes a cameo appearance, albeit in the Yorick role.) But we can comment here briefly on some of the themes. Needless to say that any fan of Manifest Destiny should run to get this new issue.

The Corps of Discovery are settling down for the winter. It’s a time of preparation for a long nap – one of the crewmen says that he just wants to finish his shelter and crawl into it. So, for once the mood of the entire team is lighter than usual. Lewis, of course, is the first to relax and Clark the last, which is in keeping with their temperament. Still tense after their last encounter with the Teton Sioux, Clark insists on handling the negotiations with the Mandans, destined to be their neighbours/hosts for the long midwestern winter. Ironically, the negotiations go easily and quickly, and Lewis takes the opportunity to tease Clark a little, but Lewis would have the ribbing returned in time. Sacagawea is growing more surly as her pregnancy advances, growing impatient with Charbonneau and snapping at York when he chastises her for disobeying Captain Clark. Mrs. Boniface even gets in on the act, erupting in laughter when Lewis essentially says that she has nothing to worry about as long as he’s with her for the winter. Lewis, for his part, seems to only partially understand how naive he’s being.

Captain Helm, in his parallel storyline, is also stopped for the winter, but his insanity returns as quickly as his health. And that’s about all we can say about Helm this time out, but there are important developments with his character that re-frame the entire series so far.

For all the story-related cleverness, the art here is truly wonderful, with classic splash pages such as the one below, depicting a buffalo hunt. Part of the strength of Manifest Destiny lies in its ability to subvert historical archetypes, both visual and personal, and the team really shines in that respect in this issue.

We’ll have more spoiler-filled thoughts at a later date, but consider issue #24 enthusiastically recommended.

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Independent scholar Ian Dawe has been writing for Sequart since November 2013. Before that, he had a mixed background, initially in science (Molecular Biology and Biochemistry), where he earned an MSc from Simon Fraser University and then an MA in Film from the University of Exeter in the UK. He spent a decade teaching at the college level, delivering courses in Genetics, Biochemistry, Cell Biology, Biological Anthropology and Film History. His academic work includes peer-reviewed papers on the work of Alan Moore, Harvey Pekar for Studies in Comics and a dissertation on Terry Gilliam for the University of Exeter. He has presented papers at several major academic conferences including Slayage 2014, Magus: Transdisciplinary Approaches to the Work of Alan Moore in 2010 (in the wizard's hometown of Northampton), Comics Rock and the International Conference of the Humanities in 2012, and at the Southwest Popular Culture Association Conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico in 2014 and 2015. He has contributed to several books, including a chapter about the TV show Archer in "James Bond and Popular Culture" and two chapters on Breaking Bad for "Breaking Bad and Masculinity", both now available from McFarland. At Sequart, he has authored a chapter for New Life and New Civiliations: Exploring Star Trek Comics, A Long Time Ago and two more upcoming books on Star Wars comics. He has also contributed to books on Alan Moore and 1970s Horror Comics. He is currently planning a full-length book on Better Call Saul. Ian currently lives in Vancouver, BC.

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Also by Ian Dawe:

The Cyberpunk Nexus: Exploring the Blade Runner Universe


A More Civilized Age: Exploring the Star Wars Expanded Universe


A Galaxy Far, Far Away: Exploring Star Wars Comics


A Long Time Ago: Exploring the Star Wars Cinematic Universe


New Life and New Civilizations: Exploring Star Trek Comics


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