Exploring the frontier and navigating the unknown can be as exciting as it is terrifying and it’s only through the journals and diaries of those early explorers that we can even get a sense of what it was like journeying into the wilderness with the knowledge that returning home was never a sure thing. Lewis and Clark, though they had their mission at hand, also understood that anything they discovered and mapped along the way needed to be documented for posterity. In the first issue of Manifest Destiny, Chris Dingess showed how Lewis was keeping two journals, one for the expedition record and another for the official record. Guess which one includes the 700 pound minotaur?
Manifest Destiny #2 begins with Lewis’ journal entry regarding the dissection of the creature killed at the end of issue one. Discovering that the buffalo/horse/human hybrid is merely a child, he struggles to define and make sense of what they’ve encountered while Clark deals with the escalating tension amongst the expedition’s crew. Obviously they’re not happy about dealing with monsters even if everything they’ve done up to this point meets the criteria of the expedition’s orders from President Jefferson. Making their way along the Missouri River to the fortified settlement of La Charrette, the crew sees a naked woman a top a cliff. Mystified by her green eyes, the crew is shocked when they witness her fall from the cliff. Searching for her, they only come across what looks like an outline of a female body covered in vegetation and plant life. Before they can investigate further, they hear the sound of thundering hooves as the adult minotaurs arrive, attacking the crew as they race towards the seemingly deserted La Charrette. Their safe haven from the monster outside, however, may turn out to be the perfect prison trapping them with the monsters inside.
Never has History’s Mysteries been more entertaining and unsettling than with Dingess writing the untold story of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Dingess and artist Matthew Roberts (who straight up kills it on the creepy plant imagery!) are creating a book that lives and breathes on the imaginative reinterpretation of western exploration in the United States. What really sells the idea, though, is Dingess’ clever way of keeping the story grounded in the actual tension and uncertainties that come with the separation from civilization. When the men begin to object and question the mission, Clark stands firm in maintaining order and discipline, but when he confides in Lewis his fears are very real about the state of the men and what they’re up against. While the crew expected certain dangers like hostile natives, they couldn’t have imagined a minotaur and even with a name to call it, however mistaken it is, it doesn’t help the situation since they’re all scared out of their minds. The perceived rest stop at La Charrette is itself a potential threat to the expedition since it was not uncommon for men to desert when removed from governing bodies. Lewis, Clark, and their soldiers are a minority compared to the men recruited who could easily run away or attempt a mutiny, so kudos to Dingess for keeping the tension high on all fronts.
Final Thoughts: I’m already predicting a movie option for this book. If Lincoln can fight vampires, then Lewis and Clark can kill monsters. Make it happen!