Jonathan Hickman and Nick Pitara’s The Manhattan Projects – an alternate history tale in which the project that created the atomic bomb was merely a front for far more interesting goings-on – continues to be a madly rewarding ride. The tenth issue, “Finite Oppenheimers,” calls back to the similarly named opening issue of the series as it takes a break from the happenings in the Projects to delve into the consequences of Joseph Oppenheimer’s infinite personalities.
The issue follows the Robert Oppenheimer personality – Joseph’s genius brother, who he killed and consumed – as he finds himself in the surreal landscape of Joseph’s mind, increasingly populated with variations on Joseph’s psychotic personality. Robert’s adventure there is strange and brutal and has portentous effects for the future of the series: smaller in scale but no less outlandishly delightful than recent issues.
Ryan Browne handles the art in this issue, but he mimics Pitara’s style enough that the shift is not casually apparent. Browne can be credited with giving the many Oppenheimers a strange, narcissistic landscape to inhabit. Even though the Joseph Oppenheimer character familiar to readers is functionally absent from the issue, his presence is clearly felt (and seen).
The Manhattan Projects continues to be my favorite ongoing series right now, and despite the departure from some of the bigger picture story, this issue is no exception. Because it’s very much a character development issue (of a sort), #10 is maybe not the best jumping on point (better to go for the first trade paperback, Science Bad), but existing readers can rely on the kind of great stuff that’s brought them back, and new readers can trust that the series is still awesome ten issues in.