By Jonathan Hickman, Nick Pitarra, & Jordie Bellaire
The protagonists of the always-absurd Manhattan Projects recently found themselves in a bit of a bind. Issue #16 continues their current plight along with some relatively cryptic glimpses of more alternate dimensions. While this series typically has giant developments or new aspects introduced quite regularly, the latest installment felt like additional exposition. However, that’s not to say it wasn’t still enjoyable.
Jonathan Hickman is known for some pretty bizarre storytelling, and the Manhattan Projects is a prime example of this. The latest issue covered the main characters chatting, still locked up by Westmoreland. While there didn’t seem to be much gained from this, a larger portion of the book followed Feynman and Einstein as they traverse strange dimensions, dismembering monsters and collecting specimens. It is acknowledged that this takes place before their capture, but it feels fairly vague. The first jump to this scenario is quite abrupt and confusing at first, especially since it doesn’t appear to hold any relevance until the very end of the book. The issue was still full of the strange, gruesome sadism that has run rampant since the very beginning of the series. It’s also interesting to see Oppenheimer out in the open as the apparent enemy, and this will surely shake things up a whole lot for the story.
The artwork was typically grotesque and strange, as Nick Pitarra always manages to captivate and repulse at the same time. Again, the little character details make their wacky personalities shine even brighter, like Yuri Gagarin always wearing his cosmonaut helmet, even when the bulk has been smashed, or Westmoreland’s penchant for wearing a necklace of ears he has collected. The primary alternate dimension seen in issue #16 was also beyond strange, as the entire environment appeared biological in some way. One of the visual highlights of any new Manhattan Projects book, however, will always be the incredibly deranged lunacy written all over Oppenheimer’s face. Jordie Bellaire’s colors appear even more vibrant than usual during the opening of the book in Project Vulcan. It’s also nice to see that the dichotomous red and blue color scheme employed for alternate dimensions has continued to be employed. Together, the unique style of Pitarra and the solid color palette of Bellaire give the book a very full appearance, even when focused on a dingy prison cell.
While issue #16 left a bit to be desired, it was another good addition overall. There were some interesting developments hinted at towards the end of the issue, but it seemed like too much of the beginning didn’t feel perfectly necessary to move the story forward. Regardless, this series has been on a steady path since the beginning and the overall feel of Manhattan Projects #16 was consistent with previous issues.