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I’m not sure exactly when the trend started, but some time between when I read comics as a kid and now, it became fashionable for comics to have their stories move at a slow burn. For example, take a look at Batman Vol 2. (Aka Batman in the New 52) It has taken nearly an entire year (11 issues going one/month) for the first story arc to unfold. Given that Jonathan Hickman’s entire multi-year run on Fantastic Four/FF has essentially been one story arc – Reed tries to Solve Everything and then has to deal with the consequences – it shouldn’t be a surprise how slowly The Manhattan Projects is taking to unfold. Yet I still find myself pretty astonished that we still don’t really have an idea of where The Manhattan Projects is going.
This issue focuses on Albert Einstein – easily my favorite character in this book. It’s not just that I’ve had a fascination with Einstein for a while; Hickman writes Einstein with the swagger he deserves in a work of fiction. We finally find out the secret behind the monolith that Einstein is constantly seen to be contemplating. I was quite pleased to find out that it’s not quite what you expected it to be.
I believe, as my brother does, that part of the fun of experiencing many works of art by the same creator lies in discovering themes that the creator likes to revisit. It can be quite interesting to see him or her tackle the same issue in different ways. Perhaps this time a deconstruction. Perhaps another time a reconstruction. As the title to this issue, The Rose Bridge, reveals, Jonathan Hickman has a thing for bridges. Not just any bridges, but transdimensional bridges. In his work on Fantastic Four Hickman has Reed Richards use a transdimensional bridge to go to a universe where he meets the Reed Richards from all the other dimensions. There is also some dimensional travel in his SHIELD series. In this issue we learn how The Rose Bridge came to be, but we don’t yet get to see the consequences of the bridge. More on this in a moment. Another theme Hickman is also exploring with The Manhattan Projects that he explored in Fantastic Four is the idea of multiple versions of a person. We had the Reed Council. In The Manhattan Projects we have the Infinite Oppenheimers and another set multiple beings is also introduced in this issue.
The book continues to have a disjointed feel to it. Before, I mentioned not knowing the consequences of opening The Rose Bridge because so far each of the issues appears to only have loose continuity ties to the issue before it. I’m hoping that we FINALLY have the start of more serialized plots with this issue. While Hickman is creating a really neat universe, I feel like I’m watching a movie in which every other chapter was deleted off the DVD. As it is, this issue almost feels like a Simpsons episode in that the events of the first few pages appear to have nothing to do with anything else that happens within this issue.
Nick Pitarra’s art continues to rock. The facial expressions continue to convey a lot of story beats and I like the artistic details.
I still recommend this book, but I do hope that Hickman gets on with it and starts the story proper in which there are events that span more than one issue – and feel incomplete that way.