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Book review: Manifest Destiny volume 1: Flora and Fauna

February 22, 2015

The worst thing about history is its lack of monsters. There’s Hitler, of course, the gold standard of historical bad guys, but when I say monsters I mean MONSTERS--mysterious, possibly hairy and/or scaly creatures of unknown origin, things you run from in the night and hope aren’t lurking under your bed. Unfortunately, monsters like Hitler are real and those other guys aren’t, but that leads us to the best thing about history: you don’t have to let facts get in the way of telling a good story.

Manifest Destiny is a comic book that plays fast and loose with history, inserting mystery, fantasy, and--best of all--monsters into the real life story of the Lewis and Clark expedition. In this version of history, Meriwether Lewis chronicles President Thomas Jefferson’s hidden objective for the Corps of Discovery: destroying monsters and making the territory safe.

Early in their journey, the Corps encounters a structure readers will recognize as the famous Gateway Arch of St. Louis. Here it’s a massive botanical structure which vexes the explorers and serves as a backdrop for their first encounter with the minotaur-like creatures which inhabit the land. These huge hybrid beasts are part horse, buffalo, and human, and are quickly dispatched by the ninja-like fury of Sacagawea. The danger grows as the explorers push deeper into the territory.

Add to this an intelligent fungus which turns people into chlorophyll-spouting zombies and one of the most celebrated episodes in American history becomes an Indiana Jones-style adventure. A case of wooden stakes in the ship’s cargo hold hints at things to come, making volume 2 of this series something to look forward to in 2015.

Comic book panel of man expressing horror avatar


Jeremy Estes has worked for Nashville Public Library since 2008. He loves comic books and dislikes the term “graphic novels”. He hosts Panel Discussion, a comics book club for adults, on the first Wednesday of the month at 12pm at the Main Library.