Comics

AICN COMICS REVIEWS: THE SHADOW! Byrne’s THE HIGH WAYS! THE PURSUIT OF BEAUTIFUL THINGS! Hickman’s EAST OF WEST! & MORE!

Published at: May 1, 2013, 8:39 a.m. CST by ambush bug

Hey folks, AICN COMICS editor Ambush Bug here. As I compiled this week’s books I noticed the absence of Big Two comics in the pull list. Usually, when that happens, I’m worried we aren’t covering enough material, but this time, for some reason I didn’t get that feeling. See, I never give out assignments to the @$$Holes to review specific books. It’s always up to them to choose what to review from the scores of books released each week and I wouldn’t have it any other way because that means they’ve chosen a comic they feel passionate about to review that week. I think the lack of DC or Marvel books covered this week could be seen as a sign that the quality stuff just isn’t coming as consistently from the Big Two these days and my reviewers have been looking elsewhere to get their comic book fix. Sure it may be a fluke week, but I’m finding that I get more and more excited about books outside of the Big Two these days and considering this week’s pull, the rest of the Holes seem to feel the same way (at least this week). Enjoy the books and maybe those who have steered clear from anything other than the mainstream books might find something interesting to take a chance on below...

The Pull List
(Click title to go directly to the review)

Indie Jones presents an Advance Review: HUCK FINN’S ADVENTURES IN UNDERLAND #1
THE SHADOW #12
AVENGERS #10
Indie Jones presents DOUBLE JUMPERS VOL.1
EAST OF WEST #2
THE HIGH WAYS #4
Indie Jones presents THE PURSUIT OF BEAUTIFUL THINGS OGN
MANHATTAN PROJECTS #11


Advance review—available on Comixology today!

HUCK FINN’S ADVENTURES IN UNDERLAND #1 (of 5)

Writer: Nikola Jajic
Artist: Gabriel Peralta
Publisher: Alterna Comics
Reviewer: BottleImp


When I got the review copy for this miniseries I was abruptly struck by the realization that in the ever-expanding comic book genre of literary mashup, writers tend to pass over American fiction in favor of using characters created by our neighbors across the pond. There are, of course, exceptions to this rule; American authors H.P. Lovecraft and Edgar Allan Poe have often been paid tribute by comics writers. But very few others come to mind—-is it because American fiction tends to feel more modern, hence more familiar, hence less likely to be placed within a more fantastic framework? Maybe…but by ignoring the larger tapestry of American literature, writers are missing out on opportunities to create new breeds of metafiction that are bizarrely, wonderfully fresh. Which brings me to HUCK FINN’S ADVENTURES IN UNDERLAND.

Writer Nikola Jajic takes some of the clichéd, classic literary fodder for these types of comics—-Lewis Carroll’s “Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland” and the cosmic horror of Lovecraft’s mythos stories—and dumps Mark Twain’s infamous teenaged ne’er-do-well Huckleberry Finn into the mix. It’s a move that, for all intents and purposes, SHOULD NOT WORK. I mean, c’mon—-Huck Finn hobnobbing with Carroll’s White Rabbit and Dodo? Huck Finn a key component in a grand multidimensional cosmic odyssey? Huck Finn crawling through what looks like a rotting talking sphincter to get to Underland? It’s a very far cry from Huck’s adventures with Jim on the Mississippi, but what makes this comic NOT collapse under its own ridiculous premise is that Jajic understands the character. Whether on a raft or menaced by a two-headed sea serpent, Huck Finn remains, simply, Huck Finn.

Just as the Huck in Twain’s novel met every obstacle with a mix of naiveté and solid horse-sense, so too does his comic book counterpart. Where another person would be astounded, terrified or even driven insane by being thrust into the wildness of Underland, Twain’s character accepts it all with an ornery bemusement and unquestioning acceptance. This appealing mix of the fantastic and the ordinary is what makes this seemingly impossible mixture of literary worlds so entertaining.

Gabriel Peralta draws the comic with a sketchy quality that captures both the earthiness of Mark Twain’s Huck and the strangeness of his surroundings. If I have one criticism it’s that Peralta’s panels tend toward medium and close shots of Huck and the other characters. In some cases (particularly in the full-page spread of Huck plummeting down the rabbit hole and the final page reveal of the sea serpent) I would have liked to see Peralta push the perspective and angles a bit more, to give those “in-your-face” moments more of a dramatic punch. Nevertheless, his page compositions are effective and Peralta does a good job at establishing the various landscapes of Underland.

I’ve been lucky enough to get a sneak peek at the first three issues of this miniseries, and I’m eager to see what else Jajic and Peralta have in store for Samuel Clemens’ seminal creation. If nothing else, HUCK FINN’S ADVENTURES IN UNDERLAND might open the floodgates for American literature to enjoy some of the metafiction attention that has been long enjoyed by its British counterpart. Maybe Jay Gatsby can take Daisy on a holiday to the Mountains of Madness sometime.

When released from his bottle, the Imp transforms into Stephen Andrade, an artist/illustrator/pirate monkey painter from New England. He's currently hard at work interpreting fellow @$$Hole Optimous Douche's brainwaves and transforming them into pretty pictures on AVERAGE JOE, an original graphic novel to be published by Com.x. You can see some of his artwork here.


THE SHADOW #12

Writer: Victor Gischler
Artist: Giovanni Timpano
Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment
Reviewer: Masked Man

This is a bit of a transition issue here, as it is Victor Gischler's last issue and Giovanni Timpano's first issue; new writer Chris Roberson (the writer of MASKS) will join Tinpano next issue. In the previous issue, Gischler wrapped a pretty damn good four issue arc with artist Aaron Campbell. The final issue proved how the Shadow don't play like that, as he killed the villain (not really a spoiler, read it and learn why). This time Gischler knocked out a really nice one-shot of the Shadow taking down some bank robbers.

It's hard to remember the last time I read such a good one-shot. With all the decompression writing going on, most one-shots are fluff pieces or backstory of a larger tale. Not here, as Gischler puts together a whole crime/adventure story in a mere 22 pages (wasn't even sure that was possible anymore!). Best of all, it didn't feel rushed or truncated, as Gischler controlled the pacing and the scope of the story to fit in one issue. Character moments with the Shadow and Margo Lane, fight scenes, villain character moments, and an interesting plot on how the Shadow traps his prey--as I said, a complete story. The fact that The Shadow didn't just capture the bank robbers, but made them dance to his tune until all his goals were met, is what makes the story so interesting to watch unfold. If anyone wants a “how to” on writing a one-shot, check this issue out.

New artist Timpano does a fair job on his new assignment. While he's a competent artist, previously doing work for IDW, I still don't feel he's prime-time ready. Everything needs to gel better, from his figures to his backgrounds to his story-telling and layouts. Hope to see him really push his craft as he works on the upcoming issues. I also question his research into the time period, as well. I don't believe bank tellers were behind glass in the late 1930's, and the bank robbers’ duffel bags looked rather modern. I suppose I might be too harsh for his first issue, but I doubt I'm alone in my observations.

One thing I do find odd about Dynamite's THE SHADOW in general is the lack of his invisibility. Now I know the character originally didn't have superpowers, as he just hid in the shadows, and it wasn't until the hit radio program that he gained his ability to cloud men's minds. Heck, even when the radio show was on the air the pulp fiction writers still kept him powerless. But turning invisible is what the public knows best about The Shadow (that and that he 'knows', I suppose). It's what I know best about the Shadow, having watched Alec Baldwin's movie and listened to the radio show on tape. I mean, they even use Margo Lane, a character from the radio show and the movie (she was rarely used in the pulp fiction stories), so it's a wonder why he never seems to turn invisible like he did all the time in those stories. Most of the time Dynamite's writers treat him like Batman in a suit, sneaking up from behind and beating the crap out of people--or shooting them. Obviously, I'd like to see The Shadow use his invisibility more. I'd be interested to see how they do it, too. In this era of computer coloring, I imagine they could come up with some cool effects. The days of Sue Richards’ dotted line look are long over.

Either way, THE SHADOW continues to be a comic book well worth the price and with his success on MASKS (so not talking about the art), I'm looking forward to see what Chris Roberson does with Mr. Cranston.

Learn more about the Masked Man and feel free check out his comic book CINDY LI: THREE OF A KIND at www.Toonocity.com


AVENGERS #10

Writer: Jonathon Hickman
Art: Mike Deodato
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Reviewer: Henry Higgins is My Homeboy


Yay For International Cooperation/Dying Like Dogs!

I’ve been a big proponent of Hickman for the past few months, but just listen. Pick this issue up. If you like The Avengers, buy it. If you like Hickman, buy it. If you like comics, buy it. This comic is awesome. Just to be safe, read the rest of the series too. Hickman is building towards some great cataclysmic story, but this issue (and many of the others) also works as strong stand-alones. All you need to know is something has happened, some new form alien of life has started in various places on Earth, and the Canadian government loses a squad in one of these zones, so The Avengers show up.

The entire comic is intense, beginning with the suicide of a Canadian agent. As the events before his death are replayed, everyone takes a guarded approach to the incursion. The Avengers are introduced to the situation, and everything is pomp and professional, prepared to enter the city. The last video of Omega Flight warns them away, with mechanical and unfeeling status reports juxtaposed to the horrors befalling the team. Omega Flight is ripped apart in four pages, and they’re beautifully horrifying.

Deodato’s art can’t be undersung either, expansive and bold when it needs to be but always with a good eye for detail. The inside of the dome is larger than life, but he still manages to convey simple needs/wants/desires from nonhuman characters. Towards the end of the book comes one of the strongest moments of the issue, if not the whole series, if not the whole Marvel line recently. The reveal with Validator is one of the most simplistically creepy things I’ve seen in a comic in a while. It’s moody as all hell, and the presence of the scene is palpable. The way it’s framed, the silence communicated with plain black panels, the confusion of both the reader and the characters, it’s all expertly crafted.

This is not The Avengers fighting legions of simple baddies. This is not the Avengers riding in to save the day or talk about their melodrama. This is a unique threat that will play a role in things to come while not forcing the story down the readers’ throats. Hickman has already turned AVENGERS/NEW AVENGERS into some of the coolest comics I’ve read in a while, and it’s well worth picking up.


DOUBLE JUMPERS VOL. 1

Writer: Dave Dwonch
Illustrator: Bill Blankenship
Publisher: Action Lab Comics
Reviewer: Mr. Pasty


Every few weeks, I find myself circling back to Action Lab Comics to cleanse myself of the tired dreck I'm asked to wade through every Wednesday at the rag shop. After the back-to-back home runs that were EHMM THEORY and THE PLAGUE, I was looking forward to DOUBLE JUMPERS, a story about video game programmers who accidentally have their consciousnesses swapped with the characters inside the game they've been developing. Sure, we've done the FREAKY FRIDAY thing ad nauseam, but never in this manner. One of the things I enjoyed most about this four-issue volume was how the programmers were trying to get their shit together, while the characters they traded places with were running wild in Las Vegas, using their bodies to satisfy every vice imaginable and getting themselves into all sorts of trouble along the way.

At times, DOUBLE JUMPERS reads like a couple of nerds all geeked out in cosplay who were given the keys to daddy's Cadillac. There are so many jokes, references, digs, innuendo and over-the-top silliness, I started to wonder if writer Dave Dwonch was trying to see just how close to the line he could get without going over. Whether or not this was an exercise in style or a writer trying to tell a story in the funniest way possible is irrelevant, partly because the books are so damn entertaining. Sure, there are plenty of places he could trim the fat, but it quietly glides under the radar of overdone and he keeps it easy to digest. Part of that credit has to go to artist Bill Blankenship, who strikes just the right note in balancing his pages with fantasy and reality. If you couldn't discern between the video game world and the Sin City world, the story would fall flat. However, Blanky has a handle on what works and what doesn't, as this is clearly not his first rodeo.

But it's not all wine and roses. The book comes advertised as a tale that features “gender swapping, S&M bondage, excessive violence and nerd rage.” I knew what I was getting myself into, but perhaps I wasn't prepared for the blatant homosexuality. I don't have an issue with gay sex and it has its place in pop culture, but boy, it sure does get right in your face with this series – probably just to make heteros like me squirm in their seats. If so, well done: you got me. Those few speed bumps aside, DOUBLE JUMPERS is an entertaining read with a lot of laughs. If you get all the in-jokes in one pass, kudos. If not, it's worth it to go back to try to catch them on the second pass.

Web heads who can’t get enough of Mr. Pasty’s word vomit are encouraged to watch him operate as Nostradumbass over at MMaMania.com here. Love, hate and Mafia Wars requests should be directed here.


EAST OF WEST #2

Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Artist: Nick Dragotta
Publisher: Image Comics
Reviewer: Humphrey Lee


Jonathan Hickman’s work, as I’ve probably stated here several times, has become one of those commodities I just up and order when I see them, no salesmanship required. Obviously this trust is well placed, but there’s no guarantee it will be honored. Much as I’ve enjoyed the vast majority of Hickman’s work to place this trust in him there’s still been the occasional SHIELD, in which case I had a deep-rooted feeling of “what the fuck is going on here?” about six issues into and there was a lot of trust going on in SECRET, a trust not so much honored because much like my sex life since I got married, I don’t think that book exists anymore. Overall, though, the trust is still there and the excitement is still there because I know when the man hits it and has a talent like Nick Dragotta on board, the sky is the limit. I may not know what the hell I’m in for without the priming a solicit page would bring, but life’s about a little adventure here and there, isn’t it?

The adventure in question this time seems to be about combining a couple genres that we tend to get once we’ve been around enough in the science fiction annals: there’s a bleak, desolated future and then there’s the Horsemen of the Apocalypse, out to do some, uh, Apocalypsing. If EAST OF WEST is anything, it’s a testament to the sense of gallows humor that I’ve noticed Hickman really seems to make his home within, and a wasteland of a future verging on Apocalypse is a great place to flex those muscles. It’s also a great place to play with and build mythology, which is really the main draw of both Hickman’s writing style and this book itself, as EOW already looks to be something special in the way it plans on showing off a world that is in some ways as backwoods as it is advanced and as mystical as it is technological. The last time he went the way of playing with mythology – inside the pages of SHIELD and the annals of the Marvel mythos – things may not have worked out so well, but the indie page has always seemed a better fit for his talents, despite my love of his FANTASTIC FOUR run and what he is currently doing with AVENGERS (which, by the by, has a very similar feel to what he is doing here).

The first issue of EOW was there really to do some heavy lifting on that world-building front, spending quite a few panels and exposition boxes to present us an alt-history future of the world and introduce us to the Four Horsemen. This second issue is to ally assembling as that first issue was to the world-building side of things. That gallows humor I mentioned before absolutely saturates the opening pages as the non-Death trifecta of Horsemen literally cleave their way through political figures on the way to finding a replacement President worthy of being their pawn in the wake of that figure’s death at Death’s hand last issue. The depth of the first issue could be measured in just how many events it covered, and this issue more than equals that in character introduction as the figureheads of the country that would be the United States are gathered into the machinations of the Three Horsemen. It really is absolutely fascinating material being bandied about here, but (and this may honestly be the only qualm I have with this title so far) there may just be too much of it at once. We get a very detailed alt-history lesson on the world in the first issue, but it plays out so densely that I think it may have lost some punch with how things are twisted. And now in this second issue we get a lot of players to smack the pages with irony that the Apocalypse may be brought about through politics, but there’s so many faces now riding shotgun with all the new nations we were shown in the debut it is hard to know who is relevant and why and how, particularly since we’ve watched the Horsemen murder a half dozen of these people in roughly five pages bridging the two issues. But, of course, it’s early and (hopefully) there’s a lot more of EOW to come and flesh all of this out while building on the obvious strengths it has shown so far: primally malevolent characters, an intriguing backdrop, lush art, etc.

If anything, right now EAST OF WEST is simply a victim of its own potential. I want more because it is good, really good, and more would be more good, obviously. I want delving into the divergent history of this world. I want more insight as to what it was that could have possibly killed the Four Horsemen and put Death at odds with the other three. I want more Nick Dragotta art, because it is absolutely killing it between the character and environmental designs, the morbidity and tension in the panels that we’ve been mostly privy to so far, and just great composition all around. I want to see more of the scope that this book is playing for and that the art can realize, but I also just want the scale to maybe drop back if for no other reason than to give us some calm, some perspective and context, and to just soak it all in before kicking us in the ass like these first couple of issues have. Not to keep harping on one of Hickman’s few failures, but SHIELD didn’t fail to work just because it hasn’t finished; it failed to work because, despite a strong start, it never really felt like it let anything soak in. High concepts are great, but you cannot have a book of nothing but them, even if they’re really, really good. It’s the connections that matter, and I think this second issue showed us that there are many to be explored and, much like the world of EAST OF WEST itself, I think there’s signs of a great journey to be had here. Cheers…

Humphrey Lee has been an avid comic book reader going on fifteen years now and a contributor to Ain't It Cool comics for quite a few as well. In fact, reading comics is about all he does in his free time and where all the money from his day job wages goes to - funding his comic book habit so he can talk about them to you, our loyal readers (lucky you). He's a bit of a social networking whore, so you can find him all over the Interwebs on sites like Twitter, The MySpaces, Facebookand a blog where he also mostly talks about comics with his free time because he hasn't the slightest semblance of a life. Sad but true, and he gladly encourages you to add, read, and comment as you will.


THE HIGH WAYS #4

Writer: John Byrne
Artist: John Byrne
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Reviewer: Masked Man

So the mighty John Byrne's latest solo project, THE HIGH WAYS, comes to an end. Which is a shame, because it was pretty darn good, but overall, despite the goodness disappointment is my over whelming feeling. Why?

Disappointment of it coming to an end too soon. Byrne has built a rather thick universe here with characters, concepts and history that all comes to an end in just four issues?!? Byrne has said that THE HIGH WAYS is meant to be a short story concept--or mini-series, in comic book speak. Every so often he plans to knock out another tale in this universe. Well, that's all fine and dandy I suppose, but I really wish this was a continuing series. There's just so much to it. What's Wallace's story? Will we ever see Jack again? How did Dr. K put this all together, and why? How does this universe work, who's in charge? How far has man traveled, have we met any aliens yet? What was going on back on Europa? This is a really great sci fi world, and just dipping in and out could drive me crazy!

To the issue at hand: the basic story of what happens to the crew of the Carol Anne and their encounter with Doctor Ketterly is completed. We do get a good look at how bug nuts crazy the good doctor is, and we learn just who 'Spout' is, as Dr. K and 'Spout' finally mix it up. Megan continued to be just a parasite to everyone around her, and Jonesy gets a moment to shine, as she faces off against the b!tch Estelle. And as the cover shows, the cops arrive to bust everything up like a good ole episode of Hawaii Five-0 (the original). Again, the only negative thing I can say is it's over--and a little too quickly. With each issue of THE HIGH WAYS, Byrne has kicked up the mystery and adventure. Each issue has led to another 'what the heck is going on' scenario, and then BAM, over in one issue. I don't think it would have been decompression to let the story linger for one more issue, allowing us to get prepared for the climax, giving it bigger impact. Also the last three page wrap-up at the end seemed rushed, tying up loose ends, again like an old TV show. There's also no hint of what's to come, if anything (although Byrne has promised more would).

Artwise, as it's been mentioned about previous issues, this is some of Byrne's best work in years. I'd still argue he could use a good strong inker like old Joe Rubinstein, since his inking is still a bit rough, but at least it doesn't look like it was inked with a twig, like it has for years. The main thing that makes this book look good is that Byrne seems to be really trying with it. For a guy who used to knock out two issues a month(!), and have them both look great(!), it really looked like he was just phoning it in the past ten years or so. These issues are more on par with his pin-up work, which still looks pretty great.

So if you or someone you know likes sci fi, take a look at this sucker. Much better than recent crop of Syfy shows (and seriously what is SoY FoY?!?). As we wait for John Byrne's return to THE HIGH WAYS, IDW will be putting out another solo venture of his called DOOMSDAY.1. Time will tell if it is as good, since THE HIGH WAYS scores a solid 3 out of 4.


THE PURSUIT OF BEAUTIFUL THINGS OGN

Writer: W. Maxwell Prince
Artist: Thomas Kovach
Publisher: Fragile Magic
Reviewer: The Dean


One day I’d like to be an old man on a boat, but until that day I’m perfectly content just reading stories about them and their adventures. So of course after seeing the cover to THE PURSUIT OF BEAUTIFUL THINGS, which features an old man on a sinking boat with only a dog by his side, I was already captivated. W. Maxwell Prince and Tomas Kovach’s tale of a man rescued by a crew of morally objectionable seamen is a quick thirteen page read which packs a great deal of sentiment into its genre mingling tale, making this one a must read for those of you not averse to digital consumption.

Prince uses a great deal of inner monologue to set the tense, somewhat melancholic tone of his story, with a writing style reminiscent of Ernest Hemingway or Jack London that encourages this false sense of direction as we settle into what seems like a story of a man battling the elements (of which we’ll include the seafaring scoundrels who rescued our hero and narrator). The Old Man is suspicious of his saviors from the start, but it isn’t until about halfway through, when the man discovers a “treasure” recently foraged by the ship’s crew, that we learn just how wicked these men truly are, and the story shifts into the realm of fantasy. A fight ensues, with the tale ending quickly thereafter, but what makes THE PURSUIT OF BEAUTIFUL THINGS such an achievement in short comic storytelling are the lingering questions of beauty and of our varying relationships with it.

The thirteen pages seem short on a first read, but every image or line of dialogue becomes more insightful and significant on subsequent reads, making the whole experience much more involved and engaging than the low page number suggests - I initially questioned the necessity of a character called the Four-Toothed Ascetic, until further reads revealed a suitable solution for the nature of his relationship with the Old Man that fit my own reading of the story. Not every mystery introduced here is answered directly (like why does everyone have so many lines on their face, or why did the old lady develop legs if she…never mind), but the important questions are just barely answered enough for you to draw your own conclusions.

The dig on the line-heavy faces aside, I really enjoyed the art, and Kovach does some really impressive stuff in putting a range of emotions into the Old Man’s beard-hidden face without ever succumbing to the more typical comic book shorthand of exaggerated expressions. There’s a lot to like about THE PURSUIT OF BEAUTIFUL THINGS, and I’m betting you’ll agree, so head on over to the digital platform of your choice to check this one out, as it’s easily the most invested I found myself in anything last week.


MANHATTAN PROJECTS #11

Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Artist: Nick Pitarra
Publisher: Image Comics
Reviewer: Optimous Douche


Hickman ain’t for everybody; his geeky sciencey themes are far more suited to those of us who bow at the altar of Star Trek versus Star Wars. However, for those of us that love him, MANHATTAN PROJECTS is the grand buffet of fakey science versus the mere morsels we’ve received in books like RED WING.

Pay close attention to the plural in this homage to the days when science marveled man versus great discoveries being relegated to 12 links down from fucking Honey Boo Boo’s latest embarrassments in the “news”. Hickman postulates that the atomic bomb project was merely a front--a slush fund for the American public to slurp down while a multitude of universe-shattering projects were actually occurring 12 more levels below ground.

With RED WING we got Hick’s take on time travel, mixed in with a little galaxy hopping. MANHATTAN PROJECTS explores space travel, time travel, parallel dimensions and pretty much every other trope from B-movies to Isaac Asimov. No wonder, as the cast of characters consists of every genius from the 20th century minus Stephen Hawking. Since the book jumps back and forth from WWII to the days just thereafter, I’m sure Stephen’s time will come in another 50 issues or so.

A book about scientists doesn’t sound like a thrill a minute, but when each is given a life greater than the one they had, it quickly becomes party time with beaker shots. Joseph Oppenheimer, Robert’s brother who ate ole Rob, consumed his knowledge, and continues to feast on smarties the world over. Albrecht Einstein, the parallel dimension version of Albert, who smacked ol’ Al across the head as soon as they met and left him festering in a shit dimension. Enrico Fermi, whose funky ears don’t get a pass in Hickman’s world; everyone knows he’s an alien--they are just not so impolite as to point it out. And the list goes on…I don’t want to ruin all these history what ifs because that is just part of the fun in discovering all MANHATTAN PROJECTS has to offer.

I really recommend reading the two trades before this issue. It’s a new arc, but I think some folks will still be lost. I devoured the first 10 issues before my plane bound for Aruba was over Florida. Issue 11 was consumed over Puerto Rico, and I had this review finished before we travelled over Puerto Rico. Basically, once I got started I couldn’t stop. If you dig Hickman like I do, this will be the fastest read of your life even though the concepts are denser than a black hole and the fracturing of reality requires a harkening back to high school history.

“Science. Bad.” adorns the back of each cover because the denizens of the MANHATTAN PROJECTS (which eventually brings the Russkies into the fold, thanks to a teleport platform that is powered by human lifeforce) are bad fucking people. They care about discovering all the universes’ mysteries and forego all those persnickety real world concerns like morality and whether humanity is ready for these discoveries.

For those who start with issue 11 (bad idea) or fans who haven’t read it yet (which I can’t believe any exist), issue 11 propels the projects into the 1960s. A new moon base, a new dumb as shit square-jawed President to give A.I. Roosevelt a run for his money, and a sad as hell origin story for the irradiated Harry Daghlian await you. Seriously, if that sentence alone doesn’t at least pique a modicum of WTF interest, stay away from this book and go watch “Star Wars” content in your world of non-exploration. Oh, and Oppenheimer has a four point plan to conquer the galaxy.

I’ll be honest, Pitarra’s art rubbed me the wrong way a little at first. If you think early Quitely is ugly, Pitarra is like Quitely after a stroke. No visage is pretty in MANHATTAN PROJECTS, but you’ll soon realize that the art is in lockstep with the ugly souls that inhabit each page. By the time I got to issue 11 I couldn’t imagine anyone else at the helm.

MANHATTAN PROJECTS ain’t for everybody, but it is like a chorus of naked lady angels for anyone who digs the darkest recesses of humanity and science.


Editing, compiling, imaging, coding, logos & cat-wrangling by Ambush Bug
Proofs, co-edits & common sense provided by Sleazy G

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