The Manhattan Projects #2
Written by: Jonathan Hickman
Art by: Nick Pitarra
Published by: Image Comics
There is a thin line in comics between a caricature of a famous person that’s homage and that’s just silly. This comic straddles that line a little.
Hickman is a very clever man, if you doubt this read his Fantastic Four work! The man, much like Grant Morrison, has a stack of notepads and jots down ideas as he goes. Reading this comic, that’s apparent- Hickman has done his research and knows his stuff and he begins to expand on his world building (a very insulated world) in this comic.
The problem is, his cast are all eccentric geniuses with equal parts smugness so it’s hard to know who to root for, or if you’re really meant to be rooting for anyone? These are the men who made weapons that would cause untold damage to people and include a Nazi- this is the madness that Hickman is starting to play with.
Hickman masterfully uses these characters to tell an action story, with little character moments that reminds you that you’re dealing with a unique set of individuals, although it is set during World War two and comments on very real threats of the time it is not a war story! If this was a book it would be called a character story but this is comics so it’s a ‘sci-fi epic with an eccentric cast’ but clearly Hickman has something bigger and bolder in mind.
I keep emphasising the characters in this story because they are what’s going to push the story and where it goes and they are masterfully brought to life by Nick Pitarra! He gives each one a unique frame of reference and build through body language and expression- you can clearly tell that he has a report and has been closely communicating with Hickman to get the ideas across.
This issue isn’t heavy on action but the movement comes to life under Pitarra’s pen and your eyes are easily led down the page, he also uses light well to convey thoughts and subtle details in the panels behind the central shot that on closer inspection gives hints to what could be on the horizon.
Embossing and glorifying Pitarra’s images is the gorgeous colour palette of Rochelle Rosenberg who clearly sees the ideas that are unfolding within individual scenes and creates a beautiful dichotomy as Hickman’s ideas are illustrated. The opening scene features a key item that is emphasised against the rest of the scenes and this lighting and colour use adds to an already brilliant story!
I see this as being a long term project with each issue hinting more and more at something sinister going on underneath- Hickman has a huge goal ahead that I can’t wait to see unfold.