Saturday, September 08, 2012

Quick Look: The Manhattan Projects Vol. 1

     Finally out in a trade paperback, the first volume of Jonathan Hickman's 'Manhattan Projects' collects issues #1-5. Special attention ought to be given to the stylized layout of the book and cover art which is in keeping with its themes of technology and the feeling of sanitized laboratories and hazard signs and chemical symbols.

     Manhattan Projects begins with an intriguing premise... what if the original Manhattan Project was simply a cover story about building an atomic bomb when in reality it was to further scientific research into more daring, inexplicable, fringe and dangerous areas of research? Interdimensional travel? Robotics? Teleportation? Artifical intelligence? And anything imaginable? That is what Dr. Joseph Oppenheimer is promised when he is brought on board by General Leslie Groves who sees their work as nothing other than a means to advance the cause of American Supremacy. However, Dr. Oppenheimer is not who he appears to be , and his character is something far stranger than even the cast of collegues he's about to encounter!

     The work is a throwback to the science-gone-wrong exploitation era where comics and B-movies portrayed mad geniuses busy creating frankenstein monsters, building bizarre contraptions and weapons of massive destruction, transforming themselves accidentally into flies, and battling godzillas and flying saucers. America is not the only country involved in such fringe research. So too are their enemies in Nazi Germany, Imperial Japan, and Communist Russia. It's dabbles with conspiracies involving American politics, Freemasons, Roswell and aliens as well as into teh personal backgrounds of the band of scientists to discover their motives and traumas. Manhattan Projects features a mix of real personalities and fictional characters involved in the original project, including Albert Einstein. Each have their qwerks and eccentricities. Some more dangerous and wilder than others.

     The art by Nick Pitarra is very loose in construction but not lacking in detail. It is quite similar to Geoff Darrow's for anyone who is familiar with his work if you want a comparison. The colors are vivid and the use of red and blue monochromatic sections helps thematically with juxtapositions between characters, personalities of characters, internal conflicts and alternate timelines with simultaneous actions. The art may not be to everyone's tastes but it does serve the character of the story well; which is a mix of science fiction and dark comedy that requires a touch of realism stirred in with a good dose of the bizarre. Pitarra takes reality and blends it with the surreal and comical.

     'Manhattan Projects' is a promising start to what could be a very intriguing and unique world that looks to spread itself to the stars and beyond. But what will this select group of mankind export with it? Does their reach extend their grasp? Curious indeed!

     If you're up to experiment with something new, drop by our store to pick up the first volume of Hickman and Pitarra's 'Manhattan Projects' at U.S.Cover price!