Written by Jonathan Hickman and drawn by Nick Pitarra
Published by Image Comics
After last weeks dip into the Dark Ages, today we move closer to the present with Hickman and Pitarra’s alternate history of the Manhattan Project. Expanding the scope of the real life race to develop the atomic bomb and bring about an end to WWII this story soon takes a very different path from reality.
Starting with the recruitment of Dr Robert Oppenheimer the story expands to include Kamikaze Killing Machines transported by Death Buddhists, multiple Alien civilisations, the head of FDR preserved in a jar and an angry, imprisoned Einstein.
And it’s not just Einstein and Oppenheimer, the Project grows to other renowned scientists of the era and leaves me wanting to duck out and read a history book. But this is not a dry tome but a vibrant, fast paced and funny comic book. With art that really grew on me.
What strikes me first about Pittarra’s art is the ‘character’ he brings to the people he draws. Their eyes and mouths feel alive and he’s a dab hand with mustaches and stubble. The impressive facial expressions and acting add immensely to the storytelling. There is a lot of detail on each page, which helps when there is so much information to be learned about this world. He draws a soft and rounded line that I found a great contrast to all the hard scientific and historical ideas flying off the page.
Hickman has a reputation for using infographics in his work, (for more read this by Warren Ellis), but here only drops one great map, showing the spread of the different galactic empires. Hopefully we will get more of this in future volumes as I love how they can provide a real info dump in a new and interesting visual way.
And there are a ton of ideas in this book. Ideas that keep going deeper and wider, be that pan-dimensional or intergalactic. And isn’t that what comics should be? Far out and off planet? Currently there is a run of excellent books bringing sci-fi back to the comics, (Prophet and Saga being the best reviewed). I love this sort of idea driven book, a big crazy hook, followed by great characters and depth to the world building. And the mix of the actual with fantasy was fantastic. The use of Oppenheimers famous quote in the last panel of the book brought a cheer and chills at the same time.
Should I buy it? I have a rule to buy all of Hickman’s creator owned work and it has not let me down yet.*
Next Week: It’s been far too long with no superheroes up in here, so let’s change that with a review of the first volume of Powers by Brian Michael Bendis and Mike Oeming.
*I was left stunned by his first book the Nightly News, absolutely love Pax Romana, and plan on reviewing both books soon. His other three, Transhuman, Red Mass for Mars and the Red Wing are all good reads but not on the level of the first two. Thus is also his first ongoing creator owned book and will hopefully have a long and fascinating run.