The Manhattan Projects 2: They Rule

manhattan projects volume 2 they rule cover
6.5 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Art: 6/10

Potentially interesting ideas

Uninspired and despite being original feels oddly derivative

Comic Info

Comic Name:   The Manhattan Projects

Publisher:   Image

Writer:  Jonathan Hickman

Artist:   Nick Patarra/Ryan Brown

# of Issues:   5

Release Date:   2013

manhattan projects #6 cover star city soviet union

The Manhattan Projects #6

Reprints The Manhattan Projects #6-10 (September 2012-March 2013). The Manhattan Projects has a new ally in Star City and with the Russians and Americans secretly working together to advance society, there are no limits…unless either of their governments find out! As the scientists and soldiers work to stay in control, Joseph Oppenheimer faces his own threat within his body as his brother Robert Oppenheimer rallies for control.

Written by Jonathan Hickman, The Manhattan Projects Volume 2: They Rule is a science-fiction alternate reality history series. Following The Manhattan Projects Volume 1: Science Bad, the collection features art by Nick Patarra with addition art by Ryan Brown on The Manhattan Projects #10.

I have a hard time with The Manhattan Projects. I read the first volume, enjoyed it enough, and decided to read volume two…then I sat on it for over a year. I just couldn’t get into the story filled with unlikable characters and a real downer plot. Though there is some creative writing, I don’t know that The Manhattan Projects is for me.

The volume essentially places the scientists in a position to completely shape the human culture in any way they see fit. This idea kind falls along the lines of books like The Authority or even Avengers World (also by Hickman) where a small group of people are deciding the fate of many because “they know best”. This is maybe a realistic idea, but it feels like that there is enough of this in the real world now…and it doesn’t feel like much escapism. When Hickman was writing it, the ideas were rather absurd…and now it doesn’t feel as weird which makes it harder to read.

manhattan projects #10 cover

The Manhattan Projects #10

Another problem I have (and Hickman does this often) is that it tries to be overly complex. The writing and the story somehow falls between something clever like Planetary and something very base like Preacher. Having Albert Einstein kick a Conquistador-wrestling guy into space where he explodes seems pretty meta, but it also feels oddly done to death in a lot of post-modern comics.

The art also doesn’t help. The back of the book features a list of characters, but the players in the story don’t seem very dynamic. The art is very blasé (intentionally) and stylized, but I personally don’t like the style.

I realize I am in the minority in not liking The Manhattan Projects despite a very positive fanbase. I don’t think it is a bad comic, and I understand why people do like it. I read the series and feel kind of numb. It is odd because the first collection I read didn’t do that to me, but this collection hit me with a very negative effect…perhaps volume 3 will be better. The Manhattan Projects 2: They Rule is followed by The Manhattan Projects 3: Building.

Related Links:

The Manhattan Projects 1:  Science Bad

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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