Manhattan Projects is only four issues old, but it might just be one of my favourite comic books on the stands today, if not my favourite. Every issue by Hickman and Pitarra is an absolute delight, as Hickman tells some truly amazing stories, and Pitarra manages to totally nail the artwork with strong, visceral storytelling. This book is a fantastic science fiction story, as Hickman utilizes the loose framework of the premise to focus on different characters and concepts freely, while keeping within the lines set out by his premise. Each issue thus far has been a standalone, and yet each issue builds off of the events of the previous issues, without the previous issues actually needing to have been read to understand what is unfolding in the issue. It’s hard to explain, but that’s the simplest way of putting it.
After being seen in a few scenes in the last few issues, this issue it’s finally Albert Einstein’s time to shine, as we get a closer look at the doorway he’s been obsessing about, and learn more about who he is, and his history with the doorway. Einstein’s story reminded me of Oppenheimer’s, in terms of the duality of the character, albeit in a very different manner, one much more science-fiction based. In some ways this story is just as much about Richard Feynman, as he’s integral to Einstein’s struggle with the elusive doorway, but although Feynman co-stars in this issue, he gets considerably less of the focus. Hickman loves using flashbacks in this book, which he then uses as a contrast against the main timeline of the book, and it’s always a treat to see how he uses it to flesh out these characters in a meaningful way. It’s reminiscent of the Lost approach, as the revelations that often come with the culmination of the flashbacks are totally unknown to the main cast of this book, comprising a secret history that is unlikely to get out. It makes each successive issue multi-layered, such as with Oppenheimer. I love seeing scenes with him and his brother, because it’s creepy and keeps the reader mindful of that character’s particularly dark and twisted secret. Unfortunately, due to the revelatory nature of the stories that are told in this book, there’s not much I can really say about the events of the book without venturing into spoiler territory, but this is a fantastic look into Albert Einstein’s history, which opens up a lot of potentially possibilities going forwards.
Although Hickman is hitting each script right out of the park, I would be terribly remiss if I didn’t take sufficient time and space to laud the efforts of Nick Pitarra, the brilliant artist on this book, as well as Jordie Bellaire, who provides the colours. This is a book where the colours are extremely important, and play an integral part in shaping the visual look of the book. This is especially true with this issue, as he plays with colour palettes, having the flashback story feature distinct blue and red shades. It makes the artwork eye-popping as well as eye-catching, but also plays a distinct role in characterizing the two particular worlds that are at play beneath the surface. Pitarra’s rendition of Einstein is pitch-perfect, managing to play into the subtleties of Hickman’s script beautifully- sometimes he looks almost adorable, in a friendly grandpa kind of way, and at others he’s awfully sinister looking. There’s a true elegance to Pitarra’s artwork, not one wasted line, nor wasted panel. Pitarra and Bellaire are a brilliant art team, and this issue, like the three issues before it, prove it once more.
If you still haven’t jumped onto this book, I must implore you to give it a shot. It’s well worth being added to your monthly pull list, as Hickman, Pitarra and Bellaire are one of the very best creative teams working in comics today. This is a young book, but one worthy of your time, attention and hard-earned dollars. Each issue is a breath of fresh air, as Hickman takes readers on a fantastical, engaging journey. Highly Recommended!