Wednesday, 28 November 2012

So I Read The Manhattan Projects: Volume 1

A 250 word (or less) review of the first volume of The Manhattan Projects.
By Jonathan Hickman and Nick Pitarra, Image Comics

There is nothing in comics, or fiction in general, that aggravates me as much as the trope that scientists are amoral misanthropes who only care about advancing their Science without regard to consequences or ethics. It’s lazy, played out, and untrue.1 I’m pretty sick of it. The Manhattan Projects: Volume 1 is the first collected edition of an ongoing series about amoral misanthrope scientists using the development of the atomic bomb as a cover story for a kaleidoscope of Mad Science. The comic sees beloved real life scientists, such as Feynman, Einstein, and Oppenheimer, portrayed as villains driven to do terrible things in the name of Science. So The Manhattan Projects is basically a perfect storm of my most hated comic stereotype taken to the extreme. The thing is I kind of LOVE IT. A lot of this can be chalked up to execution: this book is awesome! Hickman’s script is smart, warped, funny, and deranged and Pitarra’s artwork is chaotic and detailed and expressive and vaguely... wrong. I think Volume 1 is also helped by being somewhat tongue-in-cheek. Despite having gravitas and some profoundly heavy and dramatic moments, the book is very transparent about being an exaggerated work of fiction. I also really appreciate that the book doesn’t get bogged down trying to logically rationalize its Mad Science because, honestly, that would just be distracting and ancillary to the story. Despite myself, The Manhattan Projects: Volume 1 is a Mad Science exploitation comic I can heartily recommend.

Word count: 248

1: Full disclosure: I am a Scientist by profession. Also: I own both Feynman autobiographies.

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