When we last saw our favorite band of mad scientists, they were being held captive at the hands of the government (and one of their own). This month? Things escalate, and torture is the name of the game. With torture comes revelations…some less predictable than others.
MANHATTAN PROJECTS is anything but formulaic -- in concept or in direction -- and that's a good thing. This month, its seemingly-random (but really quite calculated) path leads us to two threads of interest: Oppenheimer's megalomanic scheming (and subsequent torture of his former comrades) and Einstein' and Feynman's venture towards where the wild things are. Both plots are seeded with potential for suspense and danger, and both promise to intertwine with absurdity and complexity.
Colors are always used to great effect in MANHATTAN PROJECTS; from the start, the series has had carefully-selected palettes and an elegant, flat style that allows Pitarra's linework to shine. The book's signature palette shift to stark reds and blues is one of its most striking visual elements -- it's a deliberate, design-infused choice, serving as a guide to the reader that we've shifted from a usual POV.
Speaking of design; Hickman's Clavis Aurea interludes (aside: I wish fervently that this were a real book) pull double-duty as styled chapter markers and snippets of exposition. These single-page breaks lend context to the issue (and just a bit of foreshadowing) as well as punctuating the action. Those fancy projects with Roman names -- Gaia, Vulcan, Charon, Ares -- now have places in the big picture of the MANHATTAN PROJECTS world, and the last fifteen issues feel as though they're part of a more concrete whole.
This issue begins the fourth volume (Vol 3 collected issues #11-15), but feels very much in media res; it's a new arc, sort-of, but it's also highly dependent on all that came before. Especially if you're reading the series in trade, make sure to start with the beginning.
MANHATTAN PROJECTS is perpetually surprising; like the scientists it's based on, the series continues to push, to invent, to innovate. At this stage, the plot is fully unpredictable, and readers get to enjoy the strange and wonderful ride that Hickman, Pitarra, et al are taking us on without feeling spoiled by our own expectations. Is it weird? Absolutely. But for every bizarre wormhole that the plot dashes into, MANHATTAN PROJECTS emerges on the side of consistent entertainment.