The Manhattan Projects #1
Written by Jonathan Hickman
Art by Nick Pitarra
Release Date: March 7, 2012
Jonathan Hickman is among the top names in comics today but so far I haven’t been a convert. I thought his Fantastic Four/FF work was fine but it didn’t hold my interest. I just didn’t know what all the fuss was about. Until this week, of course. The fuss is about work like The Manhattan Projects. Hickman creates a world so based in ours that it will have you heading for Wikipedia to sort out what is invention. In Hickman’s 1942, the U.S. War Department wasn’t just working on The Bomb, they were working on numerous projects that we will see as the series progresses. The first issue also gives us a feel for what the Axis powers have been cooking up to counter the Allies.
The story-telling style put me in mind of 1990s Warren Ellis, throwing a lot of odd information and curious images at you that may be vital, but are more likely set dressing to create a complete environment. The structure of the story, including the ending, resembles a solid TV pilot episode. Hickman focuses on two main characters while making the world seem lived in, dynamic, and full of possibility.
Arist Nick Pitarra is channeling Geoff Darrow in the art style. There are no square jaws or photo realism here, and the art choice flows well with the storytelling. Pitarra varies his layouts and uses splash pages for story impact, not for hero poses. It isn’t the most polished work, but the rough edges give that “indie feel.” The art is greatly enhanced by colorist Cris Peter, particularly as he uses a variety of tones to define flashbacks.
As I said, I was not on the Hickman bandwagon before reading The Manhattan Projects. This has convinced me to take a look at more of his non-Marvel work right away (made easier by the digital omnibuses just released). As for The Manhattan Projects, I can’t wait to explore the world Hickman and Pitarra are creating.
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