Last night, instead of writing the intro to today’s comic book review, I ate half a Little Caesar’s pizza, an entire bag of popcorn and drank a whole bottle of Barefoot Merlot. I then moved from the couch to the bed and welcomed death.
As I did, in fact, survive the night, here we are at Wednesday…and if you didn’t know by now…
Manhattan Projects #1
Story by Jonathan Hickman – Art by: Nick Pitarra & Cris Peter
How many of you out there are lovers of historical science fiction? Well then, how many of you love a good psychotic killer? If you raised your hand to either question, Mr. Jonathan Hickman has a treat in store for you!
As the name suggests, this story uses as its setting the World War 2 era scientific project that gave us the very first Atom Bomb. In Hickman’s twisted version of history however, the Manhattan Project not only won the atomic race for America, but also served as a cover for the weirdest of weird science experiments known to man. This is why the name of our comic is pluralized: there are many projects that comprise the “Manhattan Project,” all of which are as ambitious as the one meant to produce “the bomb”.
Imagine then, the man brilliant enough to oversee such a project. Enter Robert Oppenheimer, the co-father (with Enrico Fermi) of the Atomic Bomb. Then imagine for a second that this man had a mentally unstable twin brother. Now perhaps you can realize the implications.
The layouts Hickman and Pitarra give us read like a simple cause-effect analysis of a situation with the most dire consequences possible. The layouts are even and symmetrical, designed to read like a disaster preparedness manual. The matter of fact presentation of the events as they unfold make them all the more chilling.
Pitarra’s pencils bring the detail and texture one has come to expect of artists such as Frank Quietly and Chris Burnham. His facial expressions are dynamic and his action scenes, exciting. Perhaps some of his figures could be a bit cleaner, but honestly, I feel they would lose a lot of character for it.
All in all, the Manhattan Projects is the best kind of historical fiction. It re-imagines historical events in a way that makes us re-examine those events from a fresh perspective. Sure, we came out ok on the other side of the atomic age, but just how lucky were we to avoid disaster?
I’m eager to see how Hickman’s history answers that question!
I’ll give this book 4 POWS!