The Manhattan Projects Volume 1: Science. Bad.
Story: Jonathan Hickman
Art: Nick Pitarra
Letters: Rus Wooton
Colors: Jordie Bellaire
Publisher: Image Comics
Release Date: October 1, 2014
Who doesn’t love a story about government cover-ups, conspiracy theories and disturbed geniuses? Nobody worth mentioning and certainly nobody that has read The Manhattan Projects. Because if you didn’t love that kinda thing before, I’m sure you do now.
“The Manhattan Projects Volume 1: Science. Bad.” introduces us to the eccentric ( ever notice how smart and rich people are eccentric and everyone else is just crazy?) cast of characters in The Manhattan Projects. Joseph Oppenheimer, deranged brother of the brilliant Doctor Robert Oppenheimer, Albrecht Einstein, Albert’s violent doppelganger, physicist Richard Feynman, Nazi defector Wernher Von Braun, an alien disguised as a scientist, an irradiated man and the cigar smoking Lt. Gen. Leslie Groves. Whew, still with me?
The infamous government program that in real history led to the development of the atomic bomb is, according the alternate universe here, actually a cover for unconventional and much more interesting work. As Groves explains to the newly recruited Joseph Oppenheimer (passing for his brother)
“Whatever you can imagine—or dream—we’ll [The Manhattan Project] provide the necessary resources to build. “
The story that Hickman constructs is very imaginative indeed. Then again, this is the guy who wrote Infinity last year and continues to pen arguably the most intelligent book out right now, New Avengers. To say that Hickman is in rare form isn’t an exaggeration. Let’s hope he continues to impress.
The characters in The Manhattan Projects are layered, to say the least. Even Feynman, the team “boy scout” shows a disturbing, if hidden, amount of egomania. Following what was presumably a one night stand, Feynman mentally berates his ephemeral lover for interrupting his morning ritual. The beauty of this sequence is in the shrewd way he assesses her value versus is own. Cold, cold stuff.
By far though, the most intricate description we get of any character in the first volume is of Joseph Oppenheimer. I’ll throw out a few words to describe him and we’ll see what sticks:
Near genius level intellect.
Yeah, Joe’s got more than few screws loose, but if you haven’t read the story yet, I don’t want to go into too much detail. I will say that he suffers from multiple personality disorder, and from an artistic standpoint, that’s not a bad thing. Nick Pitarra does a great job not only personifying J.O’s much fragmented psyche, but he’s not too bad with the rest of the book either. The art is cartoony but never silly. Jordie Bellaire’s use of blue and red saturated panels to delineate between the psychotic and the sane is, if nothing else, helpful. Without that device I think it would have been much harder to distinguish between who’s who in the book.
The rest of the characters are no less outlandish, even those that serve in support roles. Like the orgy-loving Freemason President Harry S. Truman. That’s a large part of why this books has been successful as a comic. You just can’t wait to see how Hickman and Pitarra will push the limits on how these historical figures can be portrayed.
Bottomline: Buy this. Read this. Enjoy.
Follow me on Twitter! @K1NG_Of_J4CKS
By Adam Cadmon