Arrows and Laser Guns


Young Avengers #4

Hulkling, Wiccan, Miss America, and Kid Loki have all been captured by Mother, an interdimensional, mind-controlling, reality-warping parasite accidentally summoned by Wiccan. Luckily, Hawkeye and Noh-Varr show up to save the day. And save the day they do, in entirely spectacular fashion — but they immediately run into problems when Noh-Varr’s long-deceased parents show up, like everyone else’s parents, all under Mother’s control. In the rush to escape, Loki sows some doubt in Hulkling’s mind that Wiccan’s reality-warping powers may be why he’s in love with him. Loki also points out that they have two possible solutions to the problem: either Loki gets Wiccan’s powers for ten minutes, or Wiccan has to die.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Great to finally see the entire group together. Noh-Varr really does shine here — his page of effortless ass-whoopin’, followed by the amazing “Come with me if you want to be awesome” line, are just phenomenal, and we get some great scenes with Kate Bishop, too. Kid Loki is grand fun as well. Excellent action, suspense, characterization, and art. I’m getting lots of enjoyment from this series so far.


The Manhattan Projects #11

I picked up the first two trade paperbacks of this series and really enjoyed ’em. So I’m going to try the single issues from here on out.

Here’s the general pitch: We go back to 1940s Los Alamos, full of scientific geniuses, we stuff ’em full of weird science lunacy, and we watch them take over the world. We have comic versions of real people, like Einstein, Oppenheimer, Richard Feynman, Enrico Fermi, Wernher von Braun, Gen. Leslie Groves, Yuri Gagarin, Laika, FDR, et cetera… and for the most part, they’re all psychotics. Think of it as “Atomic Robo” with a lot more murderous sociopathy.

This issue focuses on Harry Daghlian, a physicist who, in the real world, accidentally exposed himself to plutonium in 1945 and died of radiation poisoning 25 days later. In the comic, however, Daghlian’s radiation exposure merely turned him into a dangerously radioactive skeleton in a containment suit. Harry feels isolated at the Projects — he’s a core member of the leadership team, but everyone is afraid of him because he’s so blasted dangerous. His only real friend is Enrico Fermi, a guy who is similarly mistrusted because he’s not really human.

Alongside the character focus on Harry, we also learn that, while the scientists have won and basically control the world, they’re now having to deal with the specifics of how to control the world. Dr. Oppenheimer shares some of his plans for humanity’s future — travel to Mars, increasing human lifespan, improving the planet’s energy situation — oh, and of course, he’s got his own secret, more deadly plans, as well…

Verdict: Thumbs up. Really wonderful characterization in this one — Daghlian and Fermi have been, for the most part, cyphers, so it’s nice to see more of their backgrounds. If you haven’t read this series before, I would advise you to read the first couple of trades, just to get caught up on the characters, their secrets, and the backstory. I really do see this series as the bizarro version of Atomic Robo — they’re both high-concept pulp sci-fi character studies, they’re both great fun to read, but “Manhattan Projects” definitely gives you more of the bad crazy, contrasting with Atomic Robo’s good crazy.

If I’ve got to thumbs any portion of this down, it’s got to be the covers. All of the covers look like that. I’m sure they’re very nice examples of fine graphic design… But don’t try to tell me these completely abstract covers do much to sell the comics, a’ight? This series would be better served by covers that give some sort of hint about the stories and characters inside…

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