This review will have all kinds of spoilers as I talk about the whole book. It came out on March 7, so if you haven’t gotten around to reading it yet go do that then come back and let’s compare notes. To give you a last chance I’m throwing this panel towards the beginning of the book that sums the whole issue up pretty well.
If I had to sum up Manhattan Projects in one word, I would use trippy. Written by Jonathan Hickman with Nick Pitarra on art with Rus Wooton doing colors, Manhattan Projects is a little out there. Hickman, probably best known for his current run on Fantastic Four and FF, crafts a familiar but different reality from the one we know. We get the major players responsible for the real Manhattan Project and the bomb, but we quickly go down the rabbit hole to a different world where the Atomic bomb is only a cover for researching things like mythical weapons and artificial intelligence.
Manhattan Projects centers on the people responsible for building the Atomic bomb. Robert Oppenheimer is our main character, our point of focus. The story opens up in 1942 with Oppenheimer in the War Department being recruited by the entertaining General Groves to be the civilian head of the Manhattan Project. After a brief discussion Oppenheimer is welcomed aboard. After the recruitment scene, we begin the other focus of this introductory issue. As well as giving us a look into the bizarre world Oppenheimer enters when he agrees to come aboard the project, we see the origin of the Doctor himself. Literally, the origin- we see a fertilized egg develop into a fetus.
Oppenheimer has an identical twin brother named Joseph. Joseph is a bad egg (see what I did there?). Joseph and Robert are both incredibly intelligent and like any set of genius twins, one is going to be evil. Joseph is a little violent, he “studies” animals. Once his studies are over, he consumes them completely because he loves them so much. He obviously moves on to bigger prey as he gets older and ends up arrested and thrown in an asylum. We’ll come back to this a little later.
As Oppenheimer gets the grand tour, we get a look at Einstein who is confined to a room. He just sits there staring at a doorway or some secret object whose purpose we’ve yet to discover. We learn Einstein is being kept there, we get the hint that there’s something more to him we’ve yet to see. His brief appearance and few scenes are one of the high points of the book for me, simply because it sets something promising up. The tour is quickly interrupted by killer Japanese samurai robots. Yeah, you read that right. Killing and mayhem ensue.
Oppenheimer and General Groves take up machine guns and mow down some robots. After the battle, we see Oppenheimer snap, a robot touches his shoes and he goes off the deep end (red flags should be popping up). Now there are a couple of more pages left where we get the big twist ending/cliffhanger. I won’t talk about that, but needless to say it really piques the reader’s interest and involves the dreaded evil twin.
Bottom Line: This is a very trippy story. Hickman, at least on the FF/F4 books is more about the long-term story. I can see elements of that in Manhattan, but there is enough here to answer enough questions while raising others. I hate to give it a star rating or anything like that right now as a standalone issue. I enjoyed the ride, but I need another issue to see if how some of it plays out. Like any 1st issues, this is sitting everything up. It definitely does set up stuff nicely, so I can’t wait to see how it starts to play out.
Cody "The Thorverine" Ferrell
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