Look, we’re Multiversity Comics. We kind of love “The Manhattan Projects” more than some of us love ourselves. Our opinions in this review will not surprise you. However, if you are not currently reading “The Manhattan Projects”, please continue this review to see why you should just pick up the first trade right damn now. Mild spoilers ahead.
Written by Jonathan Hickman
Illustrated by Nick Pitarra
“UPWARD BOUND” Lines are drawn as the Manhattan Projects fractures. Who is on which side? Where are the lines drawn? Can anyone trust anyone? The great game called FUTURE begins! The thrilling FEEL GOOD, BAD SCIENCE series continues in THE MANHATTAN PROJECTS 14: UPWARD BOUND!
It’s really so hard to write a review about a book like “The Manhattan Projects.” From month to month, Hickman and Pitarra surprise with exciting twists and masterful art. I could say that “The Manhattan Projects” suffers from a bit of stability. Nearly every issue thus far has been about the scientists rising in power. Sure, there’s been build-up and foreshadowing that the Projects would collapse, but so far it’s been hubris and good times for most of the Project, the occasional Fermi setback aside. Unfortunately, (well it’s actually a fortunately but please sympathize with me a bit longer) this issue shakes up the status quo in truly amazing ways. More historical figures get the Manhattan Treatment, and though the history geek in me is always sated by MP’s cast, this issue’s new addition made me screech a bit in delight. Plus, Oppenheimer once again steals the show with a simultaneously exhilarating and horrifying scene. Really, this issue is everything one could love about “The Manhattan Projects” in a single issue.
While Hickman does his usual great job with the script, it’s Nick Pitarra who is honestly knocking it out of the park here. His work with the character’s physicality is hilarious. (This was mentioned in the Manhattan Projections, but seriously try and watch Von Braun get carried off like a couch. If you’re not smiling then you can sashay out of my life.) When not drawing one of the most hilarious comics on shelves right now, Pitarra spends his time also drawing the most fucked up comic. His art melds the serious and the silly into an actually believable mixture. If someone with a more realistic aesthetic were drawing this book, it would just look incredibly unsettling. With Pitarra’s cartoonish scribbly lines though, The Manhattan Projects is allowed to breathe and let you laugh while Einstein drinks himself to unconsciousness.
One thing that’s funny to notice about “The Manhattan Projects” is the use of the title cards. Granted, Hickman is noted for loving his self-designed graphs and chapter pages, but with their recent high-profile event in “Infinity”, it’s almost funny to see them in an Image book. Message directly to Image offices: If you can somehow manage to fit Corvus Glaive into “The Manhattan Projects” or any of your other books (Tony Chu could always use a new partner) you would have Multiversity’s eternal thanks. That said, the Hickman pages aren’t bad at all, they seriously had a whole lot to the story (the dog page gave me some shivers) but they’re definitely becoming more noticeable. Similar to Scott Snyder’s infamous childhood monologues, they’re not necessarily bad but they seem to be a crutch that Hickman relies on. It’s a fantastic crutch, one with sparkles and many autographs from friends and family, but it’s still very noticeable.
In the end though, that doesn’t affect how good of a book “The Manhattan Projects” is. It’s heartbreaking, hilarious, and one of the few books with a genuinely epic scale. There are certain quirks that the creators lose themselves in, but I wouldn’t trade them for the world. If you’re a regular comic fan, buy it. If you’ve never read a comic book before, buy it. If you’re a historian, buy it. If you’re a historian that doesn’t like fun, buy it and then you will begin to like fun. The saddest thing about this issue is that it seems to be building towards an end for The Projects. There are still definitely a number of issues to get through first, but for the first time it seems that the faintest sliver of a horizon is in sight, which is really a shame. “The Manhattan Projects” is one of the most ingenious, beautiful, and intriguing books being published and there’s a reason we refuse to shut up about it. And that’s why it’s so hard to write a review about “The Manhattan Projects.” When a book’s that good, all you can do is point at it and scream “Buy!”
Final Verdict: 9.3 – *screaming from distance* “BUY!”