Jonathan Hickman is a godsend to modern day comics. All of his stories are completely original and distinctive, with a dash of insanity involved, and yet completely consistent in this way of story telling. His current long running comic, The Manhattan Projects is no different. I’ll be the first to admit I am a full blown Hickman fanboy, just as well I have yet to read anything he’s done that was bad or mediocre.
This issue is a continuation of a storyline first brought up in issue #10 of the series (5 issues ago). The Oppenheimers are at war with themselves, or you could look at it like Oppenheimer is at war within himself. Either way, this character is a bat shit crazy cannibal that invented the nuclear bomb, and he suffers from (or relishes in) multiple personality disorder. The whole issue is centered on Joseph Oppenheimer coming back from within Robert Oppenheimer’s mind. The war is in full force as Joseph has found a way to infiltrate the “reds” (Robert) and is now able to manipulate them and find his way back from the cruel fate of being eaten by his brother.
The story told in this issue of the Oppenheimers reminds me a lot of Being John Malkovich in that everything is Oppenheimer, even the moon. I really enjoy the deviously morose nature of Oppenheimer and the sociopathic tendencies that Hickman writes for the character. Its simply villainous to the highest standard.
One thing I’ve always really enjoyed about Hickman’s work is his dialogue. It’s always sharp, witty and fits the nature of the comic he’s writing. It never, for a single panel, feels forced or dull. Also, he easily finds each character's “voice,” so to speak, and it’s easy to know which one is which. I would talk about the plot in this issue more, but really the whole thing was about Oppenheimer and the war in his head. Nothing else happened to propel the story, really, except the last few panels. And lets face it; this comic is exciting and awesome with it's parallel earth history story gone mad.
This issue is by a fill in artist, Ryan Brown who also drew Issue 10, where this all started. His art is pretty good, and he does his job for this issue masterfully. For those not familiar with Browne he has done some fantastic work on God Hates Astronauts and is currently the new artist for the amazing comic Bedlam. So its great to see his work in this issue of Manhattan Projects once again. The whole of the comic is colored in interchanging hues of blues and reds to portray the factions of the Oppenheimers. Its a simplistic yet perfect way to portray the duality of the character in art form.
If you have yet to check out this series for whatever reason, I urge you to start now! It's not too late and really its just a lot of fun to read and look at with every issue.