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Comic review: ‘The Manhattan Projects’ #1

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J. Caleb Mozzocco

The Details

The Manhattan Projects #1
By Jonathan Hickman and Nick Pitarra
Image Comics, $3.50

Jonathan Hickman and Nick Pitarra add a pluralizing “s” to The Manhattan Project in the title of their new book, and that’s all it takes to prompt an ambitious alternate history in which real-life mad science is made even madder. What if the U.S.’s race to develop an atomic bomb was simply the cover story for the really dangerous and crazy stuff that Robert Oppenheimer, Albert Einstein and company were up to at the time?

The tone of the first issue is completely over-the-top—our protagonist isn’t “father of the atomic bomb” Oppenheimer, but Oppenheimer’s evil twin—and light to the point of breathless, Dr. Strangelove-like parody. Pitarra draws the Projects’ military commander like an over-accessorized G.I. Joe action figure, and Hickman writes many lines of dialogue that are little more than quips (“This is America … everyone gets a gun”).

It’s a pretty powerful premise, almost playfully executed, and it’s suspenseful enough to leave one wanting to know what happens next—the hallmark of a good comic book series.

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