With this third issue I’m more confused than ever about what direction Hickman is going to take The Manhattan Projects. While there were certainly multiple projects going on in the real world Manhattan Projects, the most famous one was the atomic bomb. The two are synonymous in popular culture. In the Civilization computer games you need to build the Manhattan Projects before you get the ability to build nuclear weapons. Hickman has given us the bomb in issue #3. And this is an ongoing series. Where in the world could we possibly be headed next?
In a way, that makes The Manhattan Projects one of the most refreshing series I’m reading right now. I literally have no way to guess where this series is headed. Usually I am pretty good at figuring out where a story is going and often with the Big Two I can see plot twists coming from a mile away. Not so with The Manhattan Projects.
Case in point - this issue focuses on the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima. And, yet, it really doesn’t focus on it at all. There’s a mention of it at the beginning and at the end of this issue. The real focus is on the death of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Truman’s ascension to the presidency as the series once again temporarily connects Hickman’s crazy fiction with what happened in reality. Yet every detail is so different as to catch you by surprise.
This issue also has Hickman taking a little bit of a break from the madness of World War II to give us some character interactions. We see Feynman and Einstein interacting as well as Fermi and Daghlian. And in the case of the latter, we learn a bit about what Daghlian’s condition has done to him. The requisite section that takes place in the past and only uses blues and reds focuses on General Groves’ motivations and goes a long way to explain why he acts the way he does and perhaps why he authorizes the projects that he does.
I think the series may be at a turning point with this issue. With the atomic bomb out of the way, Hickman may finally have free reign on other topics that would have been even darker secrets in this alternate 1940s Manhattan Projects. And that makes me excited to see where he goes next.
The writing continues to be superb in this issue. Hickman does a good job of ensuring that each character has a specific personality and way of speaking. All too often writers with large casts end up writing everyone too similarly, especially fringe characters. Pitarra’s art continues to give this book a feel that’s unique among all the comics I read. If you’re a fan of science fiction and of World War II history, I continue to recommend this series. The first two issues have gone through a number of printings so chances are good that you can find them and get caught up - and I suggest that you do! You won’t be disappointed. Eric “djotaku” Mesa is a blogger, programmer, and photographer. You can follow him on twitter @djotaku