Ever since I was a child I've been fascinated with History. Men and women equally have built, achieved and conquered extraordinary things that we can contemplate with amusement; of course not everything in history is as good as we would like to have been. From time to time as well I've thought (and played) with the idea of this or that character doing things differently. Nonetheless, every time I end up asking the same question: what would have happened if...? That's precisely where The Manhattan Projects takes off. Have you ever heard of it? In case you haven't, let me tell you that the story is astonishing and hallucinatory. Besides, how many times have you thought about Albert Einstein being an alien or U.S. president Franklin Delano Roosevelt turned into an A.I.?
Jonathan Hickman is a comic book writer whose name is more commonly associated with Marvel properties and he is also the mind behind one of the last great Marvel comic book events, Infinity (it would have been an instant classic if it hadn't been for the ending). However, his very outstanding work up to date is The Manhattan Projects, which takes its name from the U.S. government project secretly developed to build the atomic bomb. The beginning of the story is kind of a short prologue but it works efficiently. We're in the middle of World War II and General Groves has been chosen by president Franklin D. Roosevelt to supervise a scientific program with one goal only: find the way to defeat the enemies with one single strike. And General Groves has the task to recruit the most brilliant men to execute it.
But, who's going to be the mastermind behind the Manhattan Project?
Robert Oppenheimer was the chosen one but he had something dark and twisted yet to be discovered. In chapter one we'll learn that Oppenheimer has an evil twin brother, Joseph, who would eventually become Robert. How come? Joseph faked his death and later on returned home to kill and eat his brother. Yes, you read it right, TO EAT HIS BROTHER!!! Joseph was so fucked up in his adolescence that he killed animals to "consume them -completely- so that their souls might live forever within him". The purpose of killing his brother was to reunite the good and the evil sides into one single being. From then onwards, Joseph, in the body of Robert, will always be keeping secrets and information to his benefit but he'll also be experiencing internal conflicts between his former self and the many people he had eaten (including some creepy aliens!).
At first sight The Manhattan Projects may not be the most entertaining or engaging, nevertheless as the story progresses the secrets are more and more intriguing. The plot includes historical figures like Einstein (who is killed and replaced by an Einstein from another dimension), Richard Feynman and U.S. president Harry S. Truman (we'll discover he didn't really approve the dropping of the atomic bomb). Another factor that contributes to keeping the story balanced is that it focuses different characters and their thoughts and actions will have a direct incidence in the whole arc.
Right now there are 5 volumes of The Manhattan Projects and the monthly ongoing series continue. With every volume the stories are either more complex or too straightforward, yet the talent of Hickman as writer is undeniable. In addition, Nick Pitarra, the illustrator, has given the characters cool air and dynamism -you can tell that from the drawings.
On all accounts, in a film industry that has almost reduced blockbusters to reboots, sequels, prequels, remakes or superhero movies, people have started to wonder if Hollywood has indeed run out of ideas. Don't take me wrong, I'm delighted with the idea of big scale productions but from time to time I'd like to watch a film like The Manhattans Project than, say, Ant-Man (for the record, I enjoyed it less than the Fantastic Four reboot). Before I finish I'll leave you with Hickman's Infinity trailer. Don't forget to share your thoughts in the comment section.