COMIC REVIEW: The Manhattan Projects #9

The_manhattan_projects9Roll call, sound off: Oppenheimer, Einstein, Feynman, Fermi, General Groves, President Franklin D Roosevelt in AI form, an irradiated Daghlian, Gagarin, Laika the space dog and many more. Or fictional, crazy, versions thereof. Interested? You should be. Welcome to the world of The Manhattan Projects 09: Brave New World, which is written by Jonathan Hickman and drawn by Nick Pitarra, with colours by Jordie Bellaire. And what a wonderfully bizarre world it is.

The story so far involves a peculiar mixture of science, conspiracy, Nazis and cannibalism, when General Groves recruits Einstein into the titular projects. However, unlike the real historical events, alien visitors, parallel universes, dead scientists and various American presidents all feature. Issue 09 begins with Groves interrogating a twice-brought back to life FDR. The former President introduces a range of characters all with various functions such as Nebehu, who is the connection to the ‘old ways of the old world’. In other words, magic. Groves and his band of misfit scientists decide that they don’t want these people ruling their world. What follows is more madness from the mind of Hickman. Einstein takes out a giant Mexican wrestler, who is then disposed of through a portal into space. Splatter! The rest of FDR’s cabal are met with equally odd finales.

The story moves to six months later when a new and familiar-looking president is telling us that he has chosen to go to the moon, not because it is easy, but because it is hard. Meanwhile, Richard Feynman, the American physicist, is fitting new robotic legs to German rocket scientist Wernher von Braun. Following? Good. The Manhattan Projects is an awesome slice of highly imaginative alternative history. It is fantasy and science fiction rolled together dressed up with full-on cartoon violence and gore. There is little room to explore many of the science fiction ideas in this volume, as it mostly features the meetings of our main characters with FDR’s loony cohorts, which is a shame in one sense. However, regular readers will be familiar with the bigger picture.

There is a lovely and comic coda where each of the main characters has their description, which includes ‘Enrico Fermi – Super genius. Italian. Physicist. Not human.’; ‘Dmitriy Ustinov – Not a genius. Russian. Minister. Master.’ and my favourite: ‘Laika – Way smarter than thought. Russian. Space Dog. Speaks.’ This is indicative of the level of the humour throughout.

Johathan Hickman is a bit of a superstar at the moment, having worked on Marvel Now’s FF and Fantastic Four amongst others, so it is impressive that he has the time and the stones to remain true to the original wacky vision, and not softened it all. The dialogue works well and it makes you want to keep reading. The artwork by Pitarra is flamboyant (especially the graphic gore), yet grainy and almost ugly, which suits the tone of the comic. It is not my favourite style of comic book art and in the grand scheme of things, makes the whole experience less than perfect for me. Others will disagree.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, brilliantly bonkers.


Rating: 4/5
Reporter: Ian J Simpson

Source: image comics

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