Manifest Destiny #7

Chris Dingess and Matthew Roberts launch "Manifest Destiny" #7 into the next leg of Lewis and Clark's expedition of the Louisiana Purchase. Following the events of the first six issues of this series, Lewis and Clark have taken on the survivors from La Charette as new contributors in exploration. Most notable among the additions are Irene Lebrun, a fetching young lady who is the object of many a lustful glare from the crew and Madam Boniface. The latter is skilled in scientific arenas and makes for a fine foil to challenge Meriwether Lewis' wide-eyed exuberance.

Pulling excerpts from Lewis' journal and twining that with bits of conversation from Corporal Hardy, Dingess gives readers a quick rundown of the crew and keeps everything upbeat, despite the various and sundry choices that led them into service with Lewis and Clark. Throughout the course of "Manifest Destiny" #7, the writer gives readers believable characters set against a backdrop familiar enough to make the oddities springing out of it that much more alarming. This is a fairly quiet issue, focusing on characters, plots and subplots more than outright action.

Despite the seemingly mundane content of the issue, artist Matthew Roberts manages to fill it with brilliantly developed visuals. Colorist Owen Gieni applies texture to much of the art in addition to enhancing the energy present in Roberts' lively characters. There are still a few pages with fantastical creatures and scenery, but the majority of "Manifest Destiny" #7 contains character interactions and reactions. Roberts' range of expressions and gestures carry the tone of the story and would be able to move readers through the story with sufficient ease independent of Pat Brosseau's sharp lettering. Brosseau delivers text caption boxes that set the tone of the story, grounding it in the frontier era, with footnotes from the journal of Lewis himself.

Secrets are confirmed and deeper secrets are alluded to in the pages of "Manifest Destiny" #7, making it quite apparent that these first seven issues are barely scratching the surface of what Lewis and Clark find on their journey -- which is still in the early stages. Dingess and Roberts continue to craft a story that blends adventure, horror, history and the discovery of new lands into a series that's a great example of a new and different comic.

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