Pick of the Week
What did the
- Pick of the Week - 05.22.2013 - Daredevil #26
- Pick of the Week - 05.15.2013 - Edgar Allen Poe's The Fall of the House of Usher #1
- Pick of the Week - 05.08.2013 - Thor: God of Thunder #8
- Pick of the Week - 05.01.2013 - Animal Man #20
- Pick of the Week - 04.24.2013 - Uncanny Avengers #7
Art by Nick Pitarra & Cris Peter
Size: 24 pages
There’s something in the air in the world of comics. Well, let me amend that. There’s several things in the air in the world of comics: whirling in the ether of the world of comics are a whole bunch of things people are griping about, but there’s also things to praise. While one side of the comics world is reveling in the fun of super heroes (which is totally fine but for me lately, seems like a bit a “been there/done that”), the other side is basking the in the fun of new ideas. Quite honestly, it’s times like this that I get the most excited about collecting comics. This week, that something in the air that has me the most jazzed is Jonathan Hickman, Nick Pitarra and The Manhattan Projects #2
Following in the footsteps of last week’s pick of Saga #2, The Manhattan Projects #2 is another great example of the potential for thrilling stories in the world of comics that I would never have thought of. I have to admit that I’m full on embracing the new ideas being put forth by Image Comics. I was discussing this topic with my local comic ship proprietor and in that discussion I think I stumbled on the situation for myself. With so much of the weekly comic racks filled with super heroes, and heroes I’ve been reading for 20+ years, it makes sense that I’m looking for something new. I totally get and understand the appeal of YOUR FAVORITE HEROES FIGHTING EACH OTHER IN A WAY THEY’VE NEVER DONE BEFORE, and I’m pretty sure that 15 year old me would be loving every minute of it, but today I realized that I’m looking for something a bit more in my comics. I’m starting to evolve as a reader and I’m looking for something a bit more complex and complicated from my comics.
Enter Jonathan Hickman, Nick Pitarra and The Manhattan Projects. For those who missed the first issue, and likely this issue, the premise is simple. It’s World War II time and the government has brought together some of the world’s greatest scientists to develop the projects that the US needs to win the war, and beyond. Based on the idea of the scientists who developed the atom bomb in The Manhattan Project, Hickman has taken the real world history of science and given it a creative tweak perfect for comic books. In the first issue we were introduced to Robert Oppenheimer, the main scientist behind the Manhattan Project and now the director of The Manhattan Projects, but of course with a devilish twist that I don’t want to spoil for anyone who didn’t read issue #1. In this issue, we’re introduced to another scientist, Richard Feynman, an american scientist best known for his work in quantum physics. He becomes another player on Hickman’s chessboard of scientists, joining Oppenheimer and Albert Einstein.
Now tell me, how is that not the most compelling concept you’ve heard in months? Even better, it’s one of the best comics being published right now as Hickman and Pitarra are exceeding expectations in the execution of that concept. But hold on, it gets better.
In addition to building one of the most compelling, fun concepts I’ve heard in ages, Hickman takes it up a notch in this second issue and adds in the greatest villains known to comics, Nazis. Which makes perfect sense when you think about it. Given that Hickman is playing with history and real figures as the basis of The Manhattan Projects, it makes perfect sense to add Nazis to the mix. As involved in science as the United States were during World War II, the Nazis were as well, in fact so much more. Hitler in his mad pursuit for world domination had the greatest German minds working for him to aid in his mission. This should come as no surprise to comic fans, as we’ve read of Nazis and their failed quests before, but when you think about it, most comics tend to focus on Hitler’s preoccupation with the Occult. Not in The Manhattan Projects. No occult here, rather just one word that motivates both sides of the war: Science.
When Hickman teamed up with Nick Pitarra on The Red Wing, I enjoyed his art alot but it don’t blow my mind. With The Manhattan Projects #2, it’s clear that Pitarra has slid into a gig that suits his skills perfectly and could be in the process of turning The Manhattan Projects into something even more special. Pitarra’s cartooning is nuanced in a way that I didn’t see until this issue. His ability to get across emotion and subtext in his characters faces was apparent in the first issue, but with the introduction of Feynman as a character, I realized that Pitarra is downright masterful. Feynman, a younger scientist exhibits his youth in his face, made of smooth, clean lines. I noticed this while in comparison to looking at Pitarra’s Einstein, much older, experienced and weathered by wrinkles and lines in his face. This subtle touch gets across so much in his depiction of characters. Factor in his great rendering of castles, technology and of course, those lovable Nazis and I found myself re-reading this issue purely to absorb the art.
We’ve been talking recently about the rise of Jonathan Hickman quite a bit. Sure, he’s proven himself with the big ideas of his Image mini-series, and then he showed what he can do in the realm of the fantastic with Fantastic Four, but now with The Manhattan Projects (along with his other ongoing at Image, Secret), it’s clear that Hickman is poised to be one of the comics industries most talented writers. If you’re like me, and I hope many of you are, and you starve for something new and something exciting, then do yourself a favor and give The Manhattan Projects a try. Combining the basis of truth in the science of the past, with Hickman’s boundless imagination and Pitarra’s stunning art, it’s clear The Manhattan Projects is going to be a book we’re raving about for years to come.
“Science is all that has ever mattered”