The fifteenth issue of MANHATTAN PROJECTS is the second of the "Finite Oppenheimers" issues; it's a brief departure from the main story, but because Oppenheimer is just so fascinating, it doesn't feel like an interruption. In truth, the war within Oppenheimer's mind could be a series of its own; while the rest of the project team brings balance and charm to the series, he's got enough going on upstairs to fuel a whole omnibus.
It's rare to see a series shift artists and lose absolutely zero visual consistency. I am stunned by the lack of interruption as the issue swaps out Nick Pitarra for Ryan Browne for the second Oppenheimer interlude; MANHATTAN PROJECTS is going to be all the more beautiful in collected form. This isn't to say that Browne doesn't bring his own style to the book -- he certainly does -- but both of his issues to date have solidly locked in on the MP aesthetic.
Issue #15 is a story of escalation; the not-real war happening in not-time in Oppenheimer's mind is a brilliant backdrop for a shift in the mad scientist's personality. Concessions are being made, hard lessons are being learned, and it's impossible to empathize with either Joseph or Robert, because they're not entirely unlike each other by the end of the battle. While the "Finite Oppenheimer" breaks may appear to be mere palate cleansers, they actually accomplish a great deal towards the advancement of the larger story -- they're an incredibly micro peek into why Oppenheimer is doing what he's doing, and, given the last few issues, that's valuable information.
Nitpick Patrol time: when the Blues become "learned," they talk in equations -- but they're talking in basic algebraic statements that aren't balanced. If the purpose of the Blues' newfound intelligence is to have a cerebral advantage over the Reds, I'd hope that they'd have a more stringent algebra teacher.
This series continues to hold its own entirely unique position in the Image lineup, bringing rich and unpredictable new stories month after month. The interior of Oppenheimer's brain is a storytelling goldmine, and even these issues that take small breaks from the primary narrative are thoroughly fascinating. The book's visual consistency, throughout the primary arc and carrying into these fill-in issues, is a high point, especially because it's artistically unlike anything else on the shelves. MANHATTAN PROJECTS remains a must-pull series.