Issue 20 of The Manhattan Projects is written by Jonathan Hickman with art by Nick Pitarra. This is a story of alternate histories and sci-fi craziness with both Hickman and Pitarra bringing their best. The fourth volume of the series opens up with the Einstein’s catching up with each other and ends with surviving Manhattan Project scientists having a BBQ.
Nick Pitarra really gets to shine in this issue. His already detailed backgrounds are made better by the different landscapes he draws as we see Albert Einstein travel through space and time. We get to see Albert’s many adventures from a wizard battle against science to fighting for his life on a dying planet. Every world is imagined beautifully – I really wish this creative team had a spin-off series just following the amazing adventures of Albert Einstein. Hickman’s telling of these events is first-rate and we get an insight into what happened to Einstein and what changed him along the way.
With so much action in the last few issues, it’s a nice change of pace to have things slowed down. Hickman does a great job revealing a bit more about some of the projects the Manhattan Project team has been working on and sets up the direction this volume is heading in. A lot of this issue consists of people talking, and although an issue of talking heads can drag on, Pitarra does a nice job of breaking up the conversations. He uses great framing techniques and adds details to the background that make you spend a couple of extra moments scanning the page for all the hidden extras he likes to put in this book.
This is the type of book that I don’t think you would find from the “Big 2” publishers. Both of these creators continue to push this series to the limits, and I’m all for it. Hickman and Pitarra have created a world where there are no rules, and even when you think you know what is coming, they blow you away with the unexpected. The sci-fi concepts are fresh, and the characters, based on real world scientists, are convincing to the point where I might start believing this alternate history more than what the one I learned in school.
If you haven’t been following this series from the start (and really, why haven’t you?), this issue is a great point of entry for any new readers. This is a book that has been moving to the top of my weekly stack since its debut and is now one of the books I look forward to the most each month. It’s great to see this series enter its fourth volume, and I can’t wait to see where it goes.