'The Manhattan Projects #6:' Advance Comic Book Review


The Manhattan Projects 6Any alternate history undergoes an almost immediate pass/fail grading as I initially look at it.  In The Manhattan Projects, proudly stamped on the deceptively simple cover reads, “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?”

All comic nerds know that unique happiness of being proven wrong when you initially don’t like something, only to find yourself suddenly absorbed in it.  The Manhattan Projects isn’t one of those books.  No, no my friends.  Instead, it is a delightfully demented stroke of self-perpetuating madness.  The story flows without losing pace even in the flashback scenes, something I’ve found to be rare.  The cast paints a wild scene depicting mad scientists in a perfect, undiluted form and is without a doubt what snagged me.

The characters illustrate a perfect blending of historical figures being the epitome of comic book mad scientists in a setting where they have all the resources needed to create . . . well, mad science.  From Von Braun’s mechanical arm and cold, scientifically driven madness to the somehow comical look of Hitler holding a flower whilst talking about rockets, there lies an underlying story of ever-escalating ‘what ifs,’ all delightfully ushering the reader along with a sense of trepidation.  

Nick Pitarra’s art is brilliant; he brings life to the characters while meticulously drawing intricate and fantastic backgrounds for each panel.  The facial expressions just ooze with a grittiness and personality, drawing you forward into the plot and further into the characters.  In this issue in particular, I must draw attention to and congratulate Jordie Bellaire’s coloring.  The blue and red contrast is beautiful and alluring and not to be missed.

If I have a criticism to make, it is simply that for such a grandiose concept, by issue six, the gravity of this world must propel the plot to equivalent heights.  I do not fault the heavy character backstory of the issue, as it was rich and entertaining. There’s humanity within the characters, perhaps a sense of pity, but the intrigue lies within the possibility of wholly unethical, terribly destructive science-fiction science.  What I was truly craving were the earth-shattering effects of these men, although, the final panel leads the reader to imagine a momentous turning point, and has me very excited for the next issue.  I think as long as Jonathan Hickman manages to steer clear of the Saturday Morning Anime cliché*, we should see an exciting and, of course, madly entertaining seventh issue.

The Manhattan Projects passes the grade.  It’s a book about mad scientists post-WWII, and it’s good.






*The Saturday Morning Anime Cliché – A situation where a story continually builds toward an “epic” climax, which is subsequently subverted and/or wholly disappointing, all the while reassuring the viewer that next week something will be “epic.”



Last modified on Friday, 21 June 2013 01:34

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