(Josh Self / Orlando Rivera II / Sam Wohl / Jeff Nitzberg / Orlando Rivera II)
Manifest takes as its impetus the idea that the things we imagine can become real. That sounds nice, right, the classic dream of youth? How many of us as young men and women thick with inner lives full of vibrant colors and undulating sounds haven't sat back and thought, if only, if only...
But in the pages of Manifest, writers Josh Self and Orlando Rivera II take our childhood ruminations and put a dark twist on what should be sparkly dreamings.
According to the solicitation, “The story of Manifest chronicles a group called The Hourglass who upon death can manifest their imaginations into reality.” What manifests in Manifest, though, aren't lemon scented cherubs or chimpanzees named Adam who are all ears to your ill-formed feelings of loneliness (long story, that); rather, there's some nasty-ass shit spewing out of people's heads – things big and abominable and vicious. They're kinda like those beasts inhabiting your base squealing fears, only in this book it's like they're made of boardwalk salt-water taffy.
At times there is a face. At times there isn't. It's hard to tell where it starts and where it ends.
This is a confusing comic. As a first issue, I understand that things are developing, more will unfold, and explanations will be provided, but as of now I found the narrative alienating and hard to follow. Characters are introduced as if I should already know who they are, and their motivations for what they do seem so much “Because that's what I do, don't fucking question me.”
It's like I've been invited to a formal dinner party and have shown up wearing no shirt and my khaki jorts, then wonder why nobody is happy to see me. This book hits me in my knees and sends my enjoyment crashing to the floor.
Reading Manifest brought about flashbacks to certain comics I unearthed in the bargain bin some years ago. The thin and runny narrative swirls and spills from the wooden bowl that is Sam Wohl's art, which causes the whole thing to limp along due to his seeming misunderstanding about the basic laws of physics and physiology – laws he probably would want to follow to avoid the art police knocking on his door late at night ready to lock him in a Winsor & Newton Series 7 barred prison. If there is such a thing.
There probably should be.
Maybe with subsequent issues Manifest will gel and improve. There's an interesting conceit at its heart. Hopefully its skin will ripen with age.