Writer: Chris Dingess
Penciller: Matthew Roberts
Inker: Tony Akins
Colourist: Owen Gieni
Issue 35 quickly addresses the big cliffhanger and establishes that a mere two days have passed since Pryor seized leadership, or rather the appearance of control, of the Corps of Discovery. Dingess’ choice to open with the holy man’s account is an interesting mirror of Lewis’ journal entries. However, while Lewis’ entries add layers of intricacies to his character, Pryor’s articulation cements his unlikable nature. Dingess excels in using these parallels to convey the difference between our protagonists and their adversaries.
This issue serves as a strong, intriguing and surprising addition to the story arc as it reaches its conclusion. The ending was particularly satisfying to witness as after psychologically unravelling, due to the menacing nature of the phantom conquistador, Pryor is dispatched in a cold and unforgiving manner. The icy closing elevated the issue and ignited anticipation for what comes next. We’ve been accustomed to seeing conflict between people and creatures so this storyline is a change of pace. It works well at dividing our core group, leaving them easier targets for future foes.
I’ve come to expect consistently strong writing from Chris Dingess, but of course the artwork deserves equally high praise as it continues to be stellar. The tones used to depict the bleak winter are as harsh as what readers have come to expect from these past few issues. The emotional response of the characters is more vehement than before, and their reaction to the mutiny is perfectly expressed in their eyes. The coloring conveys the tension of the atmosphere.
The majority of this issue worked, however. The racial abuse of York felt like it lacked gravitas or nuance. It felt like the story needed him to stay behind, and as a result, we followed how he was treated without Lewis or Clark around. Except, we already know that many of the group dehumanize him and treat him cruelly. Aside from this, the issue spent too much time away from Lewis and Clark. Partly, because there needs to be that big reveal where we see their master plan unfold.
Overall this was a build up to the arc’s finale and as such it was successful in raising both excitement and curiosity. I enjoyed the Pryor’s fall, and I’m wondering if the group can ever truly be mended after what has transpired. I would give this a score of 4 / 5 as it was missing some of the mystery that the monsters bring, but made up for it with some great character moments.