Review - The Manhattan Projects #1

History is pretty much history. The US fought for independence from the UK. Y2K wasn't that big of a deal. And the US more or less ended World War II by dropping an atomic bomb on Japan. The bomb was the result of the Manhattan Project, of which J. Robert Oppenheimer was one of the leading scientists working on it.

What if Oppenheimer participated in the project for reasons other than science? What if he had an evil ulterior motive that could only be explained by innate evil? The Manhattan Projects from Image Comics by Jonathan Hickman looks at this different history. It's illustrated by Nick Pitarra, colored by Cris Peter and lettered by Rus Wooton.

The history of the US in The Manhattan Projects is a slightly different one. Yes, America is still involved in World War II and, yes, the Japanese are still a primary enemy. Pearl Harbor has already occurred, prefacing the perceived need for the Manhattan Project.

It's for this reason that Robert Oppenheimer is called upon to work on the atomic bomb. In this universe though, he's got a twin brother named Joseph, who has something of a penchant for evil. The two of them live their lives extremely close, with Robert pursuing the path of academic and Joseph pursuing a path of sheer evil.

There's also a third brother named Frank and the issue spends less than a few panels on him. It's likely that he'll play some sort of role later on in the series, but as it is the first issue is all about the Oppenheimer twins.

Oppenheimer is giving a blank check more or less, promised by the general overseeing the Manhattan Projects all manner of leeway and opportunity to create anything his mind can conceive. He's expected to come up with something grand as well, considering the Japanese have kamikaze robots that charge into battle with no fear.

Hickman's take on history is interesting. Having Robert and Joseph as twins is pretty smart, where Robert is pure intelligence and light, while Joseph is evil incarnate. Their paths give them unique perspectives on life; perspectives that eventually converge at a certain point.

Pitarra's illustrations and Peter's colors are used with great effect. The parts of the story about Robert are shown in a calmer blue, while the parts about Joseph are shown in a more sinister red. The shading helps to evoke emotion associated with each brother and gives the reader something to grab onto as they read. It was really well done and added an extra dimension to the story.

The Manhattan Projects #1 is a solid first issue by Hickman and company. It's got a devilish little twist that really takes the issue (and presumably series) to a new level of darkness that will definitely have you curious for the second issue and beyond. The Manhattan Projects themselves even have Einstein locked in an office, if that gives you any indication as to what to expect. It's a clever concept that could add even more evil behind the idea to create a weapon that has the potential to destroy all of humankind.

The Manhattan Projects #1 is in stores now and interiors are below.