I finished the first tradeback of The Manhattan Projects recently and I am a little baffled about where to begin because there is so much going on. One of the reasons I think it is hard to talk about is that there does not seem to be a specific story being told. It feels more like a glimpse to an alternate history of the Manhattan Project and following the crazy antics of the various geniuses involved. There are a lot of crazy antics going on and all sorts of weird science fiction scenarios happening all at once. Each of the scientists in The Manhattan Projects seems to have their own expertise and their own crazy ideas some of them more outrageous than the last.
Part of the reason that this comic is so hard to describe is there is so much going on and in some ways you might need to discover a lot of it for yourself. The quick version is that I am enjoying the comic and it definitely deals in big ideas that make you think. I would definitely recommend it to people although I will warn it is different than other comics you might read. (Spoilers for The Manhattan Projects after the jump)
To start out I do want to mention that I am not the biggest fan of the artwork. I am not quite sure how to describe it, but in general it is just not my favorite thing. I can look past it, but in the end it just feels very rough. I can definitely tell that this is how it is meant to be, but from my perspective it is not the greatest. Personally a good example of rough, but still polished are the recent Hawkeye comics by Matt Fraction. It is not completely polished, but has a great roughness that works with the character. This just feels a little bit too rough.
All the Science Fiction
Where to even begin with the various science fiction elements is hard to say. I think the two things we have not seen yet are really space travel and time travel. Yet, we have alternate universes, gateways between locations, cybernetics, aliens, artificial intelligence, heads in jar, an irradiated scientist that is still alive, and more (that is hard to explain). This is all present in just the first tradeback. Then you have Oppenheimer who is really Oppenheimer’s brother who believes that to consume a thing is to take its essence, so he eats people, including his brother. This we discover early on and get to see the craziness of Oppenheimer’s brother as he deals with the various fractures of his mind. We also discover that Einstein created a portal between places including between alternate universes, which leads to an even more interesting discovery. The big point is that there are a lot of various science fiction ideas present in this storyline.
Lack of Story
I mentioned this earlier, but there is an interesting lack of a real story in the comic. I mean you kind of have the war happening at the same time and there are references to scientists in other countries creating crazy stuff, but there is not an overarching narrative. It definitely feels like a moment in time story where it is just looking at how these scientists work together and the various big ideas that they seem to come up with next. There is just so much happening and seems to jump from one idea to the next. That could just be in the first one partly because they are trying to introduce you to a lot of different characters, but it feels more like a big picture view versus a single narrative story.
In the end I would recommend this comic, but understand it is a little different than you might be used to. I will keep reading, but I really have no idea where this is going.
(For next month I am planning to read Priest.)