Review - The Manhattan Projects #2

War has a habit of making strange bedfellows. Uneasy alliances are often arranged for the sake of advancing a war effort, while in the absence of an alliance combatants will go to great lengths to discover the edge they need to win. For the US in World War II it was the atom bomb, but for Jonathan Hickman it's the Manhattan Projects.

Published by Image Comics, The Manhattan Projects #2 is illustrated by Nick Pitarra, colored by Rachelle Rosenberg and lettered by Rus Wooton.

In the second issue, the actual Manhattan Projects is fleshed out quite a bit more. The reader is introduced to who are, presumably, the core team behind the Manhattan Projects in Fermi, Einstein, Daghlian, Oppenheimer and the second issue's main protagonist Dr. Richard Feynman. The group are being asked their thoughts on "commandeering" Nazi sympathizers for their cause. The Nazis are losing, but they still have some useful assets.

The thorn in the side of that plan is Herr Professor, Wernher von Braun, a German scientist very much in the know and a trusted ally of Hitler himself. The man has a knack for knowledge and a mechanical left arm. He's the prize of a contingent of Nazis targeted by the Manhattan Projects for his scientific acumen, an acumen that he uses as leverage in negotations with Dr. Feynman.

The second issue felt a lot different than the first, most likely because there was a more diverse focus in the second issue. In the initial issue, Hickman focused almost entirely on the Oppenheimer twins, with the end result setting them up for devious plots. The second issue shifts the focus to Feynman and barely features Oppenheimer at all.

It's strange because the entire series (based on the first issue) seemed to be focused on Oppenheimer and his plans. Now you're introduced to the rest of the Manhattan Projects and get a glimpse at some of the other characters. It almost seems like the first issue was a waste as far as character development goes. Granted, it's only the second issue and surely Oppenheimer will play a larger role in future issues, but right now the jump from issue one to two is a little jarring.

It was nice to gain more insight into the other scientists involved, namely Einstein. He has an encounter with a Buddhist monk that's less than peaceful and may or may not be in line with his actual personality. What does remain true is that the scientists in the Manhattan Projects are very much scientists. Hickman does a great job of having their pragmatism and logic shine through.

Pitarra's art adds an atmosphere to the story that's not quite expected. It's almost as if the art lightens the mood in a sense, but then again, the mood never really seemed that serious from the start. Feynman looks to be the best illustrated of all the characters, which makes sense considering he carries most of the second issue.

The first issue really set up an interesting premise, but it feels like the second issue is taking the series on a much different path. The issue ends with some vague foreshadowing regarding von Braun and his impact on the Manhattan Projects, but again, little to no mention of Oppenheimer. It's likely the stories will coalesce in the coming issues, but The Manhattan Projects #2 feels more like a 1A issue as opposed to a 2 issue. It's like a different first issue setting up a new storyline.

The Manhattan Projects #2 is in stores now with interiors below.