Brandon Borzelli’s Geek Goggle Reviews
The Manhattan Projects #1
Hickman & Pitarra
The Manhattan Projects is nothing that I expected. I had read a little about the book and sort of figured it was about the scientist behind the atomic bomb, Robert Oppenheimer, and his project called, “The Manhattan Project.” These are barely the basics of the book as Hickman plunges this book more down the horror genre rather than the historical or science fiction genres. By the end of the book I was stunned at how engaged I was in the story that began so much like a mini-biography. I enjoyed this book a tremendous amount.
The book opens with Oppenheimer interviewing for the job at the Manhattan Projects. The General interviewing him reveals that they are looking to do much more than just create the atomic bomb. During the process, the General inquires about his brother and his communist beliefs. Much of this portion of the story is taken from historical accounts. However, the twist is that the brother is his twin brother.
Once Oppenheimer gets shown around the facility we are treated to a couple of other historically significant objects and characters that help make the story more identifiable as a near-fact based story. However, the Japanese send a unit to invade and things head down a bloody battle path.
The book is so much more than this as the biographical piece begins to tell the story of Robert and his twin and how the pair began taking opposite paths. We learn that one is the genius scientist and the other a serial killer. It’s brilliantly told. But that doesn’t even scrape the surface of the cliffhanger.
The book is fabulous. It’s fast paced, with facts and science thrown in there, like an Atomic Robo comic or an Indiana Jones story. The book brings the reader inside the minds of the key characters, which is also excellent usage of the first issue hook to keep the reader coming back for more.
The art is tremendous. If you are familiar with Pitarra’s style from The Red Wing then you know what to expect. The book is heavily detailed and extremely big on facial details and expressions. There is an element of Frank Quitely here as well with how the details are inked over. The panel with the dead bodies is something out of a deadly version of “Where’s Waldo?” and it’s extremely memorable. The only strange piece to the book is the panel layouts in the three sets of double-page spreads that contain six panels on top and six on the bottom. The first two sets could be read straight across the page one row at a time or just one page at a time as you would normally read a comic. However, the final set must be read straight across one row at a time to fully appreciate the art and the story evolution.
This is an excellent concept and a terrifically executed book. There are a lot of horror books out there today, like Severed and Fatale, but this one shouldn’t be missed. If you like some historical elements in a science fiction or horror book then this is one that shouldn’t be missed.
4 out of 5 Geek Goggles