A review of Hickman's latest Image miniseries!
Credits & Solicit Info:
What if the research and development department created to produce the first atomic bomb was a front for a series of other, more unusual, programs? What if the union of a generation's brightest minds was not a signal for optimism, but foreboding? What if everything... went wrong?
Welcome to THE MANHATTAN PROJECTS, a brand new, ongoing, monthly comic from the creators of THE RED WING.
Brought to you by award-winning writer JONATHAN HICKMAN and possibly the best new talent of the year, NICK PITARRA, THE MANHATTAN PROJECTS is a look at history through a darker, much stranger, lens.
I typically like Jonathan Hickman's Image Comics work more that his Marvel hero work- his ideas have more of a chance to breathe and fly off in interesting directions. I was then happy to get a look at the first instalment of his new ongoing series, The Manhattan Projects. A mix of Fringe, Syfy's Eureka, parts of Planetary and the actual Manhattan Project, The Manhattan Projects is the unwritten story of what happened behind the scenes of the real-life secret project to build the first atomic bomb. Secret history stories are an almost irresistible idea for many (especially comic) writers, and having a strong set of ideas to follow is a key element. I have to say, based on the first issue that Hickman seems to have collected a nice batch.
There are a lot of ideas tossed in here, and it remains to be seen where everything is headed. As a fan of the mad/crazy, I'm excited to see lots of ideas bouncing around and I'm looking forward to see where they will all lead. There are nice touches and questions raised all over the place-Einstein locked in contemplation? The Recorded Feynman? Death Buddhists??! Sentient Origami??!! Sure, sign me up!
All of that being said, the main twist of the story (regarding Oppenheimer) was fairly obvious all along and ended on a slightly confusing note. Oh, it is clear where it's all headed (and that's pretty cool) but what was actually happening as the story unfolded wasn't as clear as I felt it was intended to be. It's a small complaint, but the first issue is your best chance to hook the reader, so and ending that causes some head-scratching is worth pointing out.
The art is a really nice match for the story- Pitarra has a nice line, darker but not too heavy. His style is a nice mix of realistic and animation (it reminds me of 80s Heavy Metal work, or maybe a little of Moebius.) This works well with a story that combines military action with wild science, where too much realism wouldn't sell the fantastic, but too much animation would undercut the historical reality of the secret military base. Adding that Heavy Metal flavor to the art is a nice bonus.
Bottom Line: A nice mix of mad/crazy ideas into a secret history setting. So long as the main plot stays true (and doesn't try to hammer in too much real history) this will be a great read. Based on the strength of the first issue, I'll be back to read more.
Review by: BD Montgomery