Jonathan Kirkman and Nick Pitarra’s The Manhattan Projects, from Image Comics, will make you wished you paid attention to your high school history teacher. Why? Because if ‘The Manhattan Project’, the secret US initiative to develop the atomic bomb, and the group of scientists who participated, were anything like they are portrayed in this comic, we’d all be a little more concerned about what scientists around the world are doing.
Or maybe we’d all want to be particle physicists.
The Bomb, as issue three is sub-titled, is quite the trip. The MP team members are all names that, if you know anything about the history of the atomic bomb, should be very familiar to you. But these are not your Grand-pappy’s nuclear weapons scientists! Einstein, Oppenheimer, Fermi, and Daghlian all here, and in this version of history, these are some off the biggest, baddest, craziest, bad asses you don’t want to mess with. Each of these super geniuses have some serious personality disorders!
As the series began, the team had recently added young genius, Dr. Richard Feynman, who serves as the readers access point. Feynman is portrayed much more like his historical self, perhaps it will take some time as team member to turn him in to a real Manhattan Project scientist.
Kirkman’s versions of these well known historical figures (including Presidents Roosevelt and Truman) are so wild, so scary, so unimaginably twisted, and so is his version of these very important events of history. Thankfully we didn’t live in a world where Harry Daghlian was an irradiated skull in a containment suit, or Oppenheimer was his own schizophrenic cannibalistic twin. But I can’t deny that world where FDR’s mind is uploaded into a gigantic analog computing device, that can only communicate via a teletype machine would be a pretty wild world to inhabit.
Pitarra’s art is deceptively complex. He does a fantastic job at making these historical figures recognizable, but at the same time, giving them all something extra, something not quite what you’d expect. Einstein’s smirk, Oppenhiemer’s squint, Von Braun’s giant robot arm… okay that is really something extra, I know. The style is dense, but not cluttered, detailed, but not busy, and enhanced by the fine color work of Jordie Bellaire.
I am not going to say this book is for everyone. But if you like alternative version of history, or just like seeing mad scientists, then this is a book you should be reading.
Of course if you are a fan of any of Hickman’s other works, like The Nightly News, or Red Wing, then you will want to check this book out.
My score ………………… 8 of 10!
The Manhattan Projects #3
a $3.50 comic, 32pgs
From Image Comics
Written by Jonathan Hickman
Art by Nick Pitarra