U.S. War Department, 1940s
Five physicists walk into a bar: a cannibal evil twin with multiple personality disorder, an alcoholic impostor from a parallel dimension, a pathological narcissist, an Italian alien and a floating skull with a plutonium-irradiated skeleton body.
And one says: Ã????Ã???Ã??Ã?Â¢??Hey, Mr. General, can we recruit nazi rocket scientists (while nuclear bombing the enemy and winning the war) in order to, incidentally, conquer space before being conquered ourselves by potential invaders from outer space?Ã????Ã???Ã??Ã?Â¢??
And the General goes: Ã????Ã???Ã??Ã?Â¢??Fine, but first you have to turn the corpse of the recently deceased president Roosevelt into an Artificial Intelligence while I deal with his orgiastic freemason successor.Ã????Ã???Ã??Ã?Â¢??
Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to
THE MANHATTAN PROJECTS , by Jonathan Hickman!
Weird science, historical conspiracies larger than life, parallel dimensions, worlds colliding, races clashing in and out of our worldÃ????Ã???Ã??Ã?Â¢?Ã????Ã???Ã??Ã?Â¦ A story (inside History) of such absurd proportions could only have been written in comic form by one man: Jonathan Hickman. The writer is all the rage nowadays within the superhero scene because, after leaving behind a long lived and acclaimed run in the Fantastic Four , he was commissioned to take charge of the Avengers franchise with the start of the Marvel NOW! initiative. There he orchestrated Infinity which, last summer, was the most successful comic event of the publisher in recent years.
But weÃ????Ã???Ã??Ã?Â¢??re not here today to talk about the more mainstream Hickman, but his devotion and consummate dedication to science-fiction in his indie projects: in Pax Romana (published as a complete author), the Vatican funded a military time-travel to the 4th century AD to strengthen the Roman Empire and avoid the Islam supremacy in the present; in Transhuman (with J. M. Ringuet), a mockumentary shows us a future in which humans are genetically engineered by rival companies seeking to manipulate the market with the excuse of building a better world; A Red Mass for Mars (with Ryan Bodenheim), facing a threat from outer space that promises to destroy humanity, recounts the last days of planet Earth; in The Red Wing (with Nick Pitarra) we return to a future in which fighter pilots not only master the air, but also time; and East of West (with Nick Dragotta) presents us with a sci-fi western in a dystopian future.
It is not difficult to see a pattern: interest in evolution and the future, passion for conspiracies and the power of cults and religions, emphasis on probing the causes and consequences of the decline of human beings as the dominant speciesÃ????Ã???Ã??Ã?Â¢?Ã????Ã???Ã??Ã?Â¦ always spiced with a seemingly unstoppable threat that accelerates the motivations of his characters and the plot itself. All this can be found, one way or another, in The Manhattan Projects .
Accompanied again by the peculiar style of Nick Pitarra, a mix of realism and exaggeration (the ideal partner for Jonathan Hickman), an unkempt stroke with great attention to detail, cartoonish but overflowing with imagination, and all this, once again, colored by the always professional, and current star in her field, Jordie Bellaire. By their side, Hickman rewrites a History filled with each and every concern of his as a writer.
In The Manhattan Projects , the great threat that acts as a catalyst of the story would obviously be World War II, although thereÃ????Ã???Ã??Ã?Â¢??s a catch this time: under the guise of funding the Manhattan Project (singular; the atomic bombs that would end the war with Japan), those responsible for the nationÃ????Ã???Ã??Ã?Â¢??s defense put up a scientific program which, pluralizing the Project, will lead humans to discover what is Ã????Ã???Ã??Ã?Â¢??out thereÃ????Ã???Ã??Ã?Â¢??.
So, what is the real catalyst? The Cold War, still in the shadows. The confirmation of extraterrestrial presence through the Tunguska event, in 1907, led the Soviet Union to be the first to make contact with aliens and build technology from what they found there. But the Americans had already discovered an interdimensional passage before the Roswell incident in 1947. The solution? A secret alliance to fight for the stars as the Cold War becomes a pantomime between politicians. Pure unadulterated Hickman.
As you may have learned from my exposition, Hickman is very comfortable in both the genre and the subjects he brings to the table here, so if you knew previous works by the writer in this field, you can take them as reference. However, it is important to highlight a certain recoverable aspect of this book: beyond the ominous speeches and the ambience of pretended epic often featured in Jonathan HickmanÃ????Ã???Ã??Ã?Â¢??s works, what must be noted in The Manhattan Projects , as I wanted to imply in the introduction, is the fun and humor that permeate the entire book.
Black, absurd, unintendedÃ????Ã???Ã??Ã?Â¢?Ã????Ã???Ã??Ã?Â¦ There is room for all kinds of humor without the story suffering for it at all, and sometimes even being reinforced. And this is because Hickman has created an absolutely brilliant roster of supporting characters, which are actually protagonists, since this is a completely choral book. Each and every one of them have (or will have) the time to shine, but perhaps in this first volume the one who does it more brightly is *Joseph* Robert Oppenheimer, given the personality (and I will say no more) the writer graces him with.
In short, we face yet another work that is a worthy representative of the concerns and interests of its creator, Jonathan Hickman, so it may not be pleasing to those who do not connect with the writer. But The Manhattan Projects would be perhaps the most accessible and less convoluted of his proposals, unleashing pure and not-so-simple fun, full of B-movie sci-fi winks, and a humor so diverse that smiling is inevitable for any comics fan.
Ladies and gentlemen, we are witnesses to Jonathan Hickman's most wholly satisfying work of recent timesÃ????Ã???Ã??Ã?Â¢?Ã????Ã???Ã??Ã?Â¦
And in the next volume: Franklin Delano Skynet!
[Originally published in REVERING COMIC BOOKS]show more