Hello and welcome back to the only site (that I know of) that reviews comics that you can download completely for free. Why would you need this, you might ask. Well I’m just trying to help you save time by finding the good ones and trying to weed out the ones that are lacking in all the things that make comics great.
Today we are looking at The Manhattan Projects: issue 1, Infinite Oppenheimers. Let me start by stating that I am a huge fan of Jonathan Hickman. Although I haven’t read his latest Avengers works, I was blown away by his SHIELD mini-series and the Secret Warriors comic, both put out by Marvel. I also enjoyed his Fantastic Four and FF runs. There are many series that he has written with issue number ones available, and I’m sure that I will review some others later.
This story is set in 1942, with World War II as a backdrop and is obviously based on the science research team of the same name. However, this reality, while parallel to our own in some ways, has some major differences. Either that, or my understanding of WWII is severely lacking.
There are two stories being told in this issue. In the first, we meet Oppenheimer being interviewed by a army-looking guy, who is welcoming him to the team of scientists. Oppenheimer, and the reader, are given a tour of the facility, which looks like it belongs in the Baxter Building. There is crazy science happening everywhere and we even see a man who I assume is Einstein locked in a room staring at some obelisk. But, as the tour takes place, an alarm sounds! There is suddenly an attack on the facility, by “the Japanese, who else?”
It’s some gateway powered by Death Buddhists which spills out some robotic samurai who quickly turn the lab into a bloodbath. The army guy and soldiers fight back and even Oppenheimer gets himself a big gun after being told, in what I consider the best line of the book, “This is America… everyone gets a gun.” After the carnage subsides, clean-up is sent in and we even glimpse at Einstein who is still seated alone, staring at the obelisk. All around him are dismantled robots and blood. So I’m not sure if he’s a superhero or just didn’t get distracted by what was going on.
The other story is told of Oppenheimer and his twin, with each boys’ story in blue or red. We see them growing up a bit and how they are different from each other. That comes into play at the end of the issue when we learn a truth about Oppenheimer that sets a sinister vibe over the story to come.
And that’s it. The story, while intriguing, seems like it was over very quickly. I was very interested in the story, as I enjoy the comics that explore alternate realities (which seems to be a trend on this site), but the artwork didn’t fit. The line work seems very shaky. Buildings have straight edges, but the way the people were drawn just strikes me as “low-grade.” I don’t think that is quite the right word, but I’m not sure how else to put it. I think some parts are done well, and clearly Nick Pitarra is a better artist than I am, but it just doesn’t do it for me. To each their own. Maybe I’m too used to seeing the exquisite art done in SHIELD, but I digress. (Yes, I know, Pitarra did a small story in SHIELD Infinity, but I wasn’t impressed by his art there either. I was referring to the artwork in the main series by Dustin Weaver) Also, I was surprised by the lack of sound effect bubbles. There were a couple, but not as many as I would have expected. As Oppenheimer is blasting away on a rail gun and everyone is fighting, there are no BLAM!s or Bangs or anything. Just a strange thing, but I think comics in general don’t have as many zany sound effects as they used to.
Would I continue this book? Yes. Even with my lackluster response to the artwork, I was still moved and drawn into the story. I will look for a cheap trade paperback this summer. I am also now driven to do some research into the real Manhattan Projects. In short, give this one a shot. It’s a great story that doesn’t really lose anything due to the Rugrat-esque art.