“We’re protecting the country’s greatest secrets”¦ The problem with these secrets is many of them are wrapped in conspiracy, and nothing tickles curiosity like mystery…” – General Groves, The Manhattan Projects #1
The idea of a book about an underground government agency that knows all of the world’s darkest secrets really intrigued me. I’ve always been a big fan of all the different UFO and government conspiracy stories and frankly still keep my eyes peeled for Big Foot anytime I’m anywhere near woods, so The Manhattan Projects #1 was seemingly written for me. Add to all that the fact that the great Jonathan Hickman is writing and it sounds like a recipe for success…
The book follows the fictional story of real-life scientific genius, Robert Oppenheimer. Oppenheimer has just been recruited into the Manhattan Projects – the government’s most secretive research and development program – during World War II. Officially tasked with building the atomic bomb, Oppenheimer is given free rein to use his intellect to build anything he can imagine, as the Manhattan Projects have no limits. General Groves then takes Oppenheimer and us on a tour of the facility before the action kicks in and Oppenheimer and the army face a Robotic Japanese attack.
The issue promised mystery and intrigue, but left me feeling a little under-whelmed. I had imagined that the book would have a relatively serious and mysterious tone, but in fact it was kind of the opposite (at one point the General talks about a sentient origami incident where many people died by paper cut – hilarious, but not what I was expecting). Part of the problem I had with the book was that there didn’t seem to be a clear objective for our protagonist yet. We’re still getting to know him and the world he is now entering into, but without really having a clear story purpose from the start, it all just kind of feels like filler for the real story that’s told in flashbacks and ultimately has a fun payout in the end.
While Hickman is an excellent writer and Nick Pitarra‘s pencils look fantastic in this issue, I’d say it was a less-than-exciting start for the team. I get the feeling that as this series continues to move along, it will pick up steam and become something really fantastic; it’s just starting slow. If you’re like me and you enjoy these types of alternate history/conspiracy stories and you’ve got a little extra cash and want to start something completely new, I’d recommend picking this issue up and giving it a try. The Manhattan Projects #1 gets better with multiple reads and I’ll certainly come back for the next few issues to see how the story progresses.