Archive for Manhattan Projects

Midnight Madness


Gotham by Midnight #1

Here’s a new series from the Bat side of things, focusing more on the supernatural horror side of Gotham City. Our main characters are the staff at Precinct Thirteen, the Midnight Shift, operating out of a junked-out office building somewhere in Gotham. Some of them are cops, some of them are civilian consultants, including a forensics specialist and a nun — and one of them is Jim Corrigan, who is better known as the Spectre. New on the scene is Sergeant Rook, from Internal Affairs, who plans to get the precinct shut down as an obvious waste of money.

The team gets a case, the aftermath of a recent kidnapping. The Attwood girls were supposedly runaways who returned home a week ago — but the girls are now speaking in an unknown language, and they don’t seem to recognize their parents anymore. But Corrigan determines there may be a connection to the notorious Slaughter Swamp, and he takes Rook with him to check it out. And of course, what they find is definitely not good news.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Nicely weird, claustrophobic story by Ray Fawkes, and wonderfully offbeat art by Ben Templesmith. It’s got a great creepy vibe, and I hope they keep that part of it running full blast.


Lazarus #13

As the Conclave between all the Families continues, it becomes more clear that the Lazarii are by far the most interesting people on board, as well as, for the most part, the most decent. It’s also clear, unfortunately, that if the Families order them to fight, they’ll all try to kill each other — and that at some point, they’re all definitely going to try to kill each other.

At any rate, Forever attends a poker game between all the Lazarii, and we get to meet a lot of really interesting people having a lot of fun, and a couple who are too cranky to have any fun at all. Forever gets to make some time for romance with Joacquim, but the fun times stop pretty quickly when the Families determine that Hock’s drugs are at least partly based on the Carlyles work. So Forever’s father has an assignment for her, and it involves her kidnapped brother.

Verdict: Thumbs up. This is worth it entirely for the interactions between Forever and the other Lazarii. I know Rucka is setting us up to see a lot of them get killed, but there’s no question that it’s wonderful fun to watch them play cards together.


The Manhattan Projects #25

In what may be the last issue of the series, LBJ is sworn in as president, and he, Groves, and Westmoreland make their plans to take over the world; Feynman, Einstein, and Einstein continue their explorations of other dimensions; the Soviets work on their bizarre alien schemes; Von Braun is captured by aliens; and Gagarin may finally be reuinited with the transmogrified Laika.

Verdict: Thumbs up, I think. I don’t like the idea of this series going away, but they say it’ll be back somehow — and for now, what we have is a good way to leave the characters, all scheming, all discovering…

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Showdown in the West


Atomic Robo and the Knights of the Golden Circle #4

Robo is stuck in the Old West, and his batteries are slowly dying on him. He’s traveling with U.S. Marshal Bass Reeves and outlaw dentist Doc Holliday as they try to track down Baron Heinrich von Helsingard — who definitely shouldn’t be in the Old West either, much less building killer robots out of outlaws and gunslingers in a mad plot to take over the United States. Once they get inside his hideout at Crestone Peak, it’s a running battle against the robots through the mountain and then on top of a gigantic dirigible. Can our heroes escape the robot army? And does Robo have a chance to survive before his batteries give out?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Lots of action, lots of great art and characterization and the kind desperate humor you get when funny comic book characters are running for their lives. The next issue is probably gonna be a big one, so y’all hold on.


The Manhattan Projects #24

While the alien-co-opted Soviets continue their plans for conquest through cybernetics and brain transplants, LBJ comes to an agreement with General Groves and General Westmoreland — he’ll let them keep their power and positions in the Manhattan Projects, as long as they eliminate his boss. So how did all the conspiracy theories get started?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Pitch-black humor in the sunlit ’60s. This one has characters from history, alien monsters, mind control, eyeball trauma, magic bullets, and splattered brains. Enjoy the show!

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I’m Tired, and It’s Labor Day, So Let’s Do Some Really Fast Reviews


Silver Surfer #5

Things are really weird at the Greenwood Inn. Dr. Strange and the Hulk show up, and Nightmare has a dastardly plot to put everyone on Earth to sleep to gain ultimate power. Luckily, the Surfer never sleeps — oh, wait, he’s asleep and dreaming right now? And the world relies on Dawn Greenwood to stay awake?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Very cute story and fun art to boot.


The Manhattan Projects #23

LBJ wants in on the Projects, and the alien-corrupted Soviets, led by Monster Brezhnev and a robot with three animal heads, want some mind-controlled dupes to help them control Cuba. So we get to meet up with Fidel Castro and Che Guevara, too.

Verdict: Thumbs up. LBJ is fun, even if he’s very similar to General Groves, and Castro and Guevara are all kinds of cool as they battle the Soviets.


Groo vs. Conan #2

Sergio is still looped out of his gourd and thinking he’s Conan. In the fictional reality, Conan has been led to believe that Groo is a gigantic monster, so he doesn’t recognize him when he meets him. But how do the townspeople think their first meeting is going?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Lots of great, weird fantasy fun.

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Give Me a Sign


Hawkeye #19

After the Bros made another attempt to take over the apartment building in a recent issue, Clint Barton ended up getting temporarily deafened while his brother Barney got a little bit shot. Luckily, Barney isn’t too terribly injured — other than being in a wheelchair, he’s getting released by the hospital. He’s definitely better off emotionally than Clint is — even though he was deafened as a kid and has struggled with occasional hearing problems in the past, Clint just can’t get a handle on anything. Barney tries to talk to him in sign language, but Clint won’t respond. Can Barney get Clint back in the game in time to help himself and everyone in the apartment building?

Verdict: Thumbs up. A nice storytelling gimmick, with much of the dialogue being communicated through sign language. I do wish they’d given us a translation in the back, but the visual storytelling is more than good enough to make sure we know what’s going on.


The Manhattan Projects #22

All of our regular characters are apparently being taken off the stage away from Earth. Yuri Gagarin has to flee Russia when it turns out that alien hybrids have taken over the Politburo — and then, after receiving an interstellar message from Laika, leaves the planet with Wernher von Braun to find her. Harry Daghlian leaves for the desert and declares himself an Atomic Messiah. The FDR A.I. plans its own takeover of everything. The Einsteins and Richard Feynman leave to explore the multiverse. Is this the end of the Manhattan Projects?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Well, I know the series is going to continue, because there’s another issue on the way next month. But I do wonder what form future issues will take when most of our protagonists aren’t on the stage anymore. Still, fun storytelling, great humor, and a decent dose of drama, too.


The Sandman: Overture #3

A star has gone mad and somehow, this is going to bring about the end of everything — and hundreds of nihilist alien races are rushing to take advantage of the chaos. Meanwhile, Morpheus and, um, Morpheus the Cat encounter the Furies, who are, as usual, terrible people. They get a new traveling companion, a little blue-skinned girl named Hope. Morpheus scares off some foes in a very unexpected way and tells Hope a story about a princess. And everyone pays a visit to the City of Stars.

Verdict: Thumbs up. A lot of stuff happened — enough stuff that you’d normally spread it out across two or three issues. Hope is a nice perspective character, Dream’s princess tale is just what I want from a comic about the King of Stories — and J.H. Williams III’s art continues to be spectacularly beautiful.

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It’s Better to Burn Out than to Fade Away


The Wicked + The Divine #1

So, the setup: once every century, the gods return to Earth. Not all of them — just a dozen. They inhabit the bodies of young people, they perform miracles, they perform concerts, they get worshiped by masses of people — and in two years or less, they all die. And the newest crop of gods are back on the material plane again.

Our viewpoint character is Laura, a fangirl looking for some gods to worship. She shows up for a concert by Amaterasu, a Shinto sun goddess inhabiting the body of a white girl from Exeter. Amaterasu pretty much blows everyone’s minds, and when Laura wakes up, she meets Lucifer, who takes her backstage to meet Amaterasu and Sakhmet while they’re getting interviewed by the skeptical media. And then there’s the brutal and utterly hilarious assassination attempt, gleefully shut down by Luci. But is the aftermath going to lead to the downfall of the gods?

Verdict: Thumbs up. As I believe we’re all quite well aware by now, Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie really love modern fantasy about pop music, and this one is basically pop stars as gods — insanely, gloriously popular for a couple years before they inevitably burn out and fade away. The art is spectacular, the character design is wondrous, the writing, characterization, and humor are fantastic. This was really great fun, and y’all better jump on the bandwagon for this one.


The Manhattan Projects #21

We finally get to focus on Laika, stuck on a very lonely mission exploring deep space. She’s captured by a spaceship categorizing alien lifeforms, is given a universal-translater snack, and is put into a cell with an alien glob and a lying spy-bot. But the ship is soon attacked by a larger warship, and Laika and her companions must flee to safety — and in the process, she gets dowsed in a genetic re-sequencing liquid. What happens to the world’s most famous space dog after a few thousand generations of forced evolution?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Lots of action and humor and weird stuff, and it’s great to get to spend some time with Laika, who we just haven’t gotten to spend all that much of this series with.


The Witcher #4

Geralt the Witcher and Vara the succubus find Jakob the hunter in the dining hall with his wife Marta the vampire. Jakob has been desperate to find Marta all this time, but is now terrified to be in the same room with his terrifying, near-silent wife. After that, the Grave Hag makes it into the house and leads an attack of zombies. Geralt and Vara enjoy some time together, Jakob decides he wants to leave the house, then decides he doesn’t want to leave the house, and Geralt discovers one of the house’s great secrets.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Good action and some wonderfully creepy weird stuff make this one a lot more fun.

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Broken Mirrors

Today’s reviews feature a couple comics starring people who have their own special versions of evil twins.


The Manhattan Projects #20

Albert Einstein is back in town and having a few maybe not-so-friendly drinks with his alternate-universe twin Albrecht Einstein. Albrecht trapped Albert in another dimension and took over his own life in the Manhattan Projects, and Albert had to fight his way across multiple horrible universes to make his way back home. Albert has always been more intelligent than Albrecht, and he’s now a heck of a barbarian warrior — is he going to be willing to forgive what his doppelganger did to him?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Nice to see Albert back in the series, and it’ll be interesting to see the two Einsteins hanging out.


Daredevil #2

So there’s this blind lawyer who has super-sensory powers that let him be a superhero, and his name’s Matt Murdock. Oh, but wait, San Francisco actually has another blind lawyer who has super-sensory powers that let him be a superhero — Max Coleridge, otherwise known as the Shroud. Unsurprisingly, they don’t get along well — the Shroud is a great deal more hardcore and sociopathic than Matt is, and he’s been keeping a bunch of mid-level mobsters captive at his slum hideout so he can pump them for information. Can Matt convince the Shroud to let the men go? Only if he helps take out San Francisco’s biggest crimelord…

Verdict: Thumbs up. Great art and writing. It’s fun to have these two characters who are so bizarrely similar and so uniquely different at the same time. And the cliffhanger at the end is an excellent twist. Meanwhile, what the heck really happened to Foggy Nelson?!

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Surfing with the Alien


Silver Surfer #1

New series starring the Sentinel of the Spaceways seem to come along every few years, and they tend to be hampered by the problem that the Silver Surfer is a little bit dull as a character and tends to over-dramatize everything a bit. So can a couple of creators known for strong skills in humanizing their characters — Dan Slott and Michael Allred — make the Surfer a bit less of a stick in the mud — while still offering the cosmic adventures that his fans expect?

We start out getting introduced to a very normal Earth girl — Dawn Greenwood, a dedicated homebody who never wants to leave her hometown of Anchor Bay, even while her twin sister Eve wants to see the whole world. But Dawn is perfectly content to stay at the little bed-and-breakfast her father runs and help show the tourists around. Meanwhile, the Surfer is doing his usual thing — helping alien worlds and being a bit morose. But he gets an unexpected invitation to become the new champion of the Impericon — a place he’s never actually heard of. He soon discovers an impossible, beautiful, and endlessly bizarre world — and he’s expected to save it from an unknown and terribly powerful threat. Now the question of the hour — what’s the connection between the Silver Surfer and Dawn Greenwood?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Three really great things that this comic does — it gets us a really strong look at a very mundane — but not uninteresting — person’s life on Earth; it gets us a really strong look at the fantastically weird life of the Surfer; and it gives us an opportunity to have a bit of a laugh at how weird the Surfer’s life really is. Allred’s art is, of course, fantastic — a great mixture of his signature style, Kirby’s sci-fi action, and Jim Starlin’s cosmic chaos. And Slott does a great job of both capturing the Surfer’s voice and attitude and tweaking it with a bit of contrast.


The Manhattan Projects #19

It’s the final battle for the mind of Oppenheimer, waged by the all-Oppenheimer armies of eccentric genius Robert Oppenheimer and his disembodied twin brother, psychotic genius Joseph Oppenheimer. The prize — to determine the One True Oppenheimer! The cost — complete annihilation, possibly of both personalities. Which twin will come out on top? Or will a completely different twin get the last word?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Can’t say a whole lot without spoiling everything, but it’s fantastically imaginative, and the ending is a lot like the one in the last issue — a complete game-changer.

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The Lady or the Tiger?


Mighty Avengers #7

So a while back, Gideon Mace, one of Luke Cage’s old villains, killed Ava Ayala’s parents. Since becoming the White Tiger, Ava has at least been happy that Mace was in prison — but she’s just learned that he’s out of jail and sponsoring terrorist arsonists. She doesn’t react well to that — in fact, she gives the tiger god that grants her powers permission to run wild in her body and hunt Mace down. The problem for the Avengers now is not just how to keep Mace alive, but how to keep a White Tiger with godlike abilities and utterly savage efficiency from killing all of them.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Once again, no Greg Land art to screw this all up! Valerio Schiti’s art is kinetic and fun and action-packed and personable — everything that Land could never be. Al Ewing’s writing is great, too. It’s kinda fun to see Ava mop the floor with her teammates, and the ending boosts the stakes for the whole team going forward.


The Manhattan Projects #18

Much of this issue focuses on the battle between the blue alien hippie monster and the maniacal General Westmoreland. And Dr. Oppenheimer offers his prisoners a chance at salvation — all they have to do is betray their colleagues and work for him. Will any of them side with him? Heck, knowing this bunch, will all of them side with him? And who’s going to end up running the Manhattan Projects?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Action-packed and bizarre and hilarious. And game-changing on several different levels. Is Westmoreland the hero now? Is Einstein the villain? And what’s gonna happen to Oppenheimer now?

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Science Unfair

Aaaand we’re back. Hope you all had a Merry Christmas, a Happy New Year, and a Joyous First-Week-or-So-of-January. Time for reviews? Sure, why not.


The Manhattan Projects #17

Well, the forces of evil (Oppenheimer and Westmoreland) are working their way through the forces of slightly-less-evil (everyone else on the Manhattan Projects). Oppenheimer has General Groves pumped full of truth serum to get more secrets out of him. And a monster is raging through Westmoreland’s soldiers — ironically, a peace-loving, hippie-like alien who saved Feynman and Einstein and was then betrayed by them and rebuilt into a savage body. Is the monster going to kill everyone? Or will Westmoreland kill everyone?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Nicely done, tense story, with Groves forced into helplessness and required to use his brains instead of just his brawn, and the morals-free quest for knowledge getting close to giving Einstein and Feynman the comeuppance they probably deserve. By the way, love the surprising and hilarious way the alien talks.


The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys #6

The Girl is heading for Battery City. Destroyah is heading for Battery City. Korse is facing overwhelming odds. But B.L.I. is going to win — especially when the Girl surrenders and gets fitted with a Draculoid mask. There’s no way for the good guys to come out on top, right?

Verdict: Thumbs up. An excellent ending for the series — if you haven’t read any of this yet, it’ll probably be better if you get the collected edition of this series instead. But it’s a great conclusion — evil is defeated, freedom is restored, and Dr. Death Defying still rules the airwaves.

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Astro to the Limits


Astro City #6

Meet Thatcher Jerome, a fixer for the Mob. He’s got a nice cover job as an official in the longshoremen’s union, which he uses to get into the interdimensional door of the mysterious Ambassador. And he somehow convinces the guy that he needs all kinds of supplies that Thatcher and his Mafia pals are able to provide. And while delivering goods, Thatcher manages to steal one of the Ambassador’s alien artifacts. What’s it do? Well, Thatcher accidentally turns his brother-in-law into a supervillain called the Ore-Master. Is this weapon the key to moving Thatcher to a leadership position with the Mafia? Or is it all some sort of devious plan or test by the Ambassador himself?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Thatcher Jerome is a wonderful character — heck, this series is pumping out awesome character after awesome character, and thank goodness someone’s still willing to do that these days, right? That’s really the main thing that makes this issue so much fun — we get introduced to Fletcher Jerome, meet the people who make up his world, and watch him run around Astro City doing cool stuff.


The Manhattan Projects #16

Oppenheimer tries to figure out the other Projects’ technologies. General Westmoreland tortures Gagarin. Oppenheimer prepares to inject Groves with truth serum. Einstein and Feynman explore alien worlds and hunt alien monsters — and let some of them out into the lab…

Verdict: Thumbs up. Everyone’s devious and horrible — and at least half the fun of this series is watching mild-mannered historical figures act completely devious and horrible.

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