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3.6 out of 5 stars14
3.6 out of 5 stars
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on 25 November 2012
TMP is a wild fiction built around the real life creation of the first WWII atomic bomb. The build is simply a front for what the militant project leader identifies as "...more important concerns." He enlists the troubled scientist Oppenheimer, and a team of equally disturbed real life geniuses, to fulfil a very different agenda. More than once I was reminded of Mike Mignola; they're a kind of reverse B.P.R.D.

It's an engaging and far-reaching story that draws the reader in with hermetic secrets, drip-feeding future possibilities alongside some cryptic past histories.
However, holding back like it does made me question whether it'll come together in a satisfyingly cohesive manner. By the end of the book that question was still ringing in my mind. One thing is clear, though: it's a bubbling pot with two lids, neither of which is able to contain the inevitable -- there will be spillage.

Nick Pitarra provides art so successfully that it's hard to imagine the work being presented in any other style. He's not completely original (his influences are clear to see) but his vision gels with Hickman's wild sciences perfectly.
The colouring is as important as the art in getting the message across. It uses a palette of contrasting primary and tertiary colours that support the dualities present in the written word. It's beautifully presented.
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The story running through the first five issues of Jonathan Hickman and Nick Pitarra's The Manhattan Projects are collected as The Manhattan Projects Volume 1: Science Bad TP. This is an alternative history, where magic(?) and science co-exist in a past that is not quite ours. Our story involves an American military project in the 1940s, where the US is at war with Japan, Germany and possibly the Soviet union, though that might be a turn of phrase. All the powers seem to have harnessed pulp SF technology, and the American project is staffed by, amongst others, the evil twin of Robert Oppenheimer (who has killed and replaced his brother); an Einstein from a parallel dimension who has swapped places with this universe's Einstein (against the latter's wishes), and now can't understand how to operate the bridging mechanism; an Enrico Fermi who is an alien in disguise (inspired no doubt by the Fermi paradox), Wernher von Braun (a genuine Germanic mad scientist with a curious hair-style reminiscent of the Pointy-haired Boss, but is really supposed to be devilish, I suppose); and a number of other characters who I do not recognise, though no doubt are historically correct, under the command of a General Leslie Groves, who appears to have escaped from the set of Dr Strangelove. Richard Feynman is also there, and although exhibiting strange character traits, may actually be the `normal' one. Anyway, these are the continuing (very entertaining) adventures of this group, whose cover story is that they are working on an atomic bomb. They actually make one just to keep the cover going, and deploy it despite the President's objections. There are also some interesting Freemasonic activities involving President Truman, and the late President Roosevelt is turned into a living computer, and a visiting alien race offers up a star-drive in exchange for Einstein's bridge. Suckers. They didn't stand a chance against this league of extraordinary scientists/psychopaths.

I can't quite describe this comic book, despite all the above. These are not pleasant people, and they don't do pleasant things, but it is fascinating to read/watch what happens.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 16 May 2014
This is a really great original idea, which is something I appreciate in comics.

The over arching theme and plot is one of the adventures of a cabal of mad scientists, centering on the english speaking world and the US, featuring scientists who will be familiar to the reader as those who actually were involved in the real manhattan project which produced the atomic bomb which was used in the war with Japan.

Although instead of it being the Manhattan Project singular it is plural, there are many projects being undertaken, and it is set at the finish of the war so their are of course rival projects from other nations, the zen powered portal which operates on the suffering of "death buddhists" is such a crazy but brilliant idea for instance, and the kidnap and co-opting of nazi scientists is also a plotline.

This volume essentially introduces the character cast for what I suspect will be a series which will run and run, each of the scientists, two of which are definitely not what they seem at all, and all of which have little or no redeeming qualities with perhaps one exception, although given the overarching theme of real mad scientists I suspect more revelations about the more apparently "good guys" in later volumes. There is one other very briefly featured character who seems to be a good through and through guy, well from the perspective of humanity at least, but he sort of is a little like a Star Trek redshirt, doomed to die before he has a chance to be wicked (or much else).

However while the book is full of beginnings and presents some cliff hangers or points up possible future story lines, ie there's mysterious characters who say little but make an appearence and disappearence, there's people exiled who could return, that sort of thing it is a volume in and of itself and reading it does not feel like its a long advertisement for the next episode (like a graphic novel version of back to the future two).

I loved the artwork and I loved the quotations which started and finished "chapters", recommended to fans of good comics, sci fi and mad science!
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The story running through the first five issues of Jonathan Hickman and Nick Pitarra's The Manhattan Projects are collected as The Manhattan Projects Volume 1: Science Bad TP. This is an alternative history, where magic(?) and science co-exist in a past that is not quite ours. Our story involves an American military project in the 1940s, where the US is at war with Japan, Germany and possibly the Soviet union, though that might be a turn of phrase. All the powers seem to have harnessed pulp SF technology, and the American project is staffed by, amongst others, the evil twin of Robert Oppenheimer (who has killed and replaced his brother); an Einstein from a parallel dimension who has swapped places with this universe's Einstein (against the latter's wishes), and now can't understand how to operate the bridging mechanism; an Enrico Fermi who is an alien in disguise (inspired no doubt by the Fermi paradox), Wernher von Braun (a genuine Germanic mad scientist with a curious hair-style reminiscent of the Pointy-haired Boss, but is really supposed to be devilish, I suppose); and a number of other characters who I do not recognise, though no doubt are historically correct, under the command of a General Leslie Groves, who appears to have escaped from the set of Dr Strangelove. Richard Feynman is also there, and although exhibiting strange character traits, may actually be the `normal' one. Anyway, these are the continuing (very entertaining) adventures of this group, whose cover story is that they are working on an atomic bomb. They actually make one just to keep the cover going, and deploy it despite the President's objections. There are also some interesting Freemasonic activities involving President Truman, and the late President Roosevelt is turned into a living computer, and a visiting alien race offers up a star-drive in exchange for Einstein's bridge. Suckers. They didn't stand a chance against this league of extraordinary scientists/psychopaths.

I can't quite describe this comic book, despite all the above. These are not pleasant people, and they don't do pleasant things, but it is fascinating to read/watch what happens.
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on 25 July 2013
I had originally read issue #1 of The Manhattan Projects for free on the image iPhone app, and it interested me so much that I bought this first volume. Issue #1 really captured my imagination - we follow historical figure Robert Oppenheimer as he is brought onto the Manhattan Projects, where as we know he will help invent the atomic bomb. However, this book proposes an alternative, secret story - the atomic bomb is just a cover for what the Manhattan Projects are REALLY working on - and that is anything the scientists can imagine. Portals to Japan? Yep. Artificial intelligences? Yep. And is Oppenheimer really who he says he is? To say any more would give away some great story lines!

Featuring other famous scientists such as Albert Einstein, Richard Feynman, Enrico Fermi and Harry Daghlian, the rest of the book didn't disappoint at all. Science fictions stories such as this seem to be quite popular at the moment, and Jonathan Hickman has really nailed the story here. I wasn't immediately enamoured by the art, but that was just my personal initial reaction - and by the end I was a fan.

I enjoyed this book so much I will definitely be purchasing volume 2, and pre-ordering volume 3. If you're here because your interest was piqued by the premise, dally no longer - hit the buy button! You won't be disappointed.
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on 25 February 2013
Jonathan Hickman rewrites history in one of the wackiest and most inventive reads I've had the pleasure to experience. The manhattan projects, isn't just developing the atomic bomb, that is just a cover for weirder experiments involving death Buddhists, gateways to other worlds and creating an AI using a dead president Roosevelt. The writing is smart, funny and very well paced and the art matches it. I eagerly anticipate the follow up.
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on 12 August 2013
Having now read the first two volumes of Manhattan Projects, I like the concept of the books; an alternative vision of the project whereby the development of the atomic bomb was merely the public face of an Area 51 style establishment developing all sorts of crazy technology, making contact with aliens, etc.

The art style is interesting, and definitely a break from the usual over-glossy illustrations found in most Marvel books these days. My major complaint is that the reader is left to fill in a lot of the gaps in the storylines, and that the books (thusfar) have lacked much of an overall story arc, preferring to focus on individual stories from the projects, some of which are explained better than others. There is great characterisation in the books (the story of Oppenheimer's brother killing him and consuming his soul is a brilliant depiction of a fictional psychopath) but the stories feel meandering and sometimes it's difficult to work out exactly what is going on.

I'll probably pick up the third volume when it surfaces because I'm interested to see where they take the concept, but compared to the coherent storytelling of books like Saga this falls short.
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on 20 February 2014
I liked the premise of this, an 'alternate' universe where the Manhattan Project is a front for more wacky research and notable figures in science star. However, there was far too much happening in the book with very little development on the plots. It felt like it had great ideas but it couldn't decide which one it wanted to make prominent and instead put a range of half developed stories into one book. It was kind of like reading an anthology of short stories and preludes that might get released at the end of series after you've known the characters for a while and has little nods to earlier plots.

If the later stories slow it down and take their time a bit this could be really great, but looking at the reviews of the next volumes it seems that's not the case.
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on 26 October 2015
I like the concept of the Manhattan Project being the front for much greater experiments but that's all it seems to be: a concept. I appreciate that this is only the first volume but there appears to be no discernable theme here other than 'look at all of these crazy alternative-reality that we've come up with. Rather than making any real points about government oversight or the moral choices of war, it seems more interested in how many famous scientists it can include with weird quirks ("What if we included Wernher von Braun, but he had a robot arm!"). The rest of the series may well develop these one dimensional chracters and deal with some meaningful points, but I won't be bothering to read them.
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on 15 November 2014
So the set up is good and in the opening pages it's shows real potential but then it all goes to pieces.
No real story arc, no proper plot to speak of and I could forgive it that if it was entertaining but it falls flat there too.
Then there's the characters who are no more than a familiar name and (sometimes) a visual likeness, wasting the opportunities of using them in the first place.
There's a couple of good panels and pages with enjoyable moments but those aren't enough to pull it back or lure me into reading more of the series, the Manhattan Projects isn't one I'll be coming back to.
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