Over the last few years I've ingested a steady feed of novels about the moon landing, astronauts, cosmonauts, Sergei Korolev, Wernher von Braun, James Webb, Richard Feynham, the Rise and Fall of NASA, Stephen Hawking's books and various books about the potential of manned flight to Mars. All of thus back ground reading - whilst not essential to enjoy this amazing series - really helps form a bigger picture and makes you appreciate exactly what Hickman is doing with his characters.
I've been a fan of Hickman since Nightly News came out in single issue format, and this new series does not disappoint.
It makes me feel good that the four colour industry can release a title this good in an age of increased super-hero genre domination fueled by the Hollywood strip mining of ideas. We need more weird and varied creative comic books that showcase the medium as an excellent one for story-telling regardless of the genre.
This is as good as it gets, and does what comics should do: it brings us a story without borders on casting, budget, time, imagination, ideas. Excellent stuff, with no pandering to the lowest common denominator.
I don't know how a book this niche gets published, never mind finds an audience; but I'm damn glad it does.
The various scientists in the Manhattan Projects - Einstein, Feynman, Oppenheimer - have won their battles and have their own base on the moon with unlimited resources to pursue their work. Separated, Oppenheimer becomes even crazier with his red side dominating having eaten his blue side and we discover the horrifying secret of Dr Fermi while Laika is once more shot into space in a rocket.
I don't think I could tell you what happened in this book and that's partly because very little does and partly because it could barely hold my interest. The first volume of the series was interesting, the second less so, and the third was so dull that it's reached the point now where I'm dropping it entirely. We get the origin stories of two lesser characters, Dr Fermi and Dr Harry Daghlian, both of which are mildly interesting, there are some funny moments like JFK doing blow in the oval office and Einstein and Feynman getting drunk on Pronea whiskey (Hickman's personal glyph) and the whacky finale inside Oppenheimer's head between the red and blue Oppenheimers, but it's not enough to sustain the book.
Nick Pitarra does his usual fine work and, like in Vol 2, the book closes out with an Oppenheimer-centric issue drawn by Ryan Browne, and it's the artwork that I enjoyed the most in this volume. Maybe it's Hickman's many other books like East of West and his numerous Marvel stuff causing him to spend less time on this title, but I feel like his work on Manhattan Projects has been getting worse as the series goes on, to the point now where odd things happen but it's no longer interesting.
The story is all over the place, the characterisation is lacking, and it's an exhausting-to-follow read. It looks great but it's boring as hell. Volume 3 of the Manhattan Projects is my stop, guys, see you later, I'm getting off here!