Oct 13, 2015

[Comics] The Manhattan Projects Vol. 5 - The Cold War

Welcome to what should be my last review of The Manhattan Projects for a while - or at least until I get my hands on the next compiled volume. I hope you've been enjoying this little journey through a strange alternate history of our world - one that is super-charged with the wonders of science left unbridled or something. And it's all rather cool as well.

This fifth volume, The Cold War has us formally moving into a new era in history. We're done with World War II and we're done with the immediate aftermath and now we're moving directly into the titular historical period, the Cold War. And that means even more possible historical events to twist and warp with the machinations of our scientists.

To be fair, I wasn't quite sure how things were going to go forward from this point on given all that had happened in the last book. In many ways out "team" was largely splintered already because of Oppenheimer's big plan for the world nearly taking down everyone with it. But now we have a chance to start fresh - and things certainly go in rather diverse directions this time around.

Synopsis: The Manhattan Projects Vol. 5 - The Cold War is the third compilation of the comic created by Jonathan Hickman with art by Nick Pitarra. For those late to the game, the title focuses on an alternate version of history where the major players in the infamous Manhattan Project are just a bit more mad than we thought.

This volume actually begins with a bit of an unexpected interlude - a sort of update on what has been happening to Laiku, who had been sent on an exploratory mission but the team had lost contact with her. It was already unusual enough that Laika could communicate well enough for a dog. But then no one in this team was ever all that ordinary. And while we are thankfully reassured that she's alive, how long she will remain so is hard to determine given her circumstances.

But the very next issue presents a drastically different story - a most violent regime-change that is overtaking Russia. More than just a controversial political party seizing control, we actually have a potentially extraterrestrial intelligence doing so. And while Yuri Gargarin was pining over the loss of Laika, Minister Dmitriy Ustinov (who happens to be a brain controlling a robot body) just barely manages to get Yuri out of Star City and destroy the gate linking the facility to the rest of the Manhattan Projects. Back in the US, the current president, JFK, seems to be getting in the way of things again and this time around the Projects may take a more active role in regime-change.

The rest of the book has us following the exploits of the rest of the team with many of them working independent of the others. It makes for a somewhat somber period of the Projects given they no longer quite seem to be one "team" anymore, but what can you do after the machinations of Oppenheimer to potentially take over the world with all of their creations?

It has been nice to have both Albert and Albrecht Einstein in the story together and to see how their different personalities make for interesting scenes together. And their continued explorations of the worlds beyond this one also present new avenues for stories. Seriously, some of the things they end up face make an alien controlling Russia seem absolutely plain.

It is also fascinating to see how things have progressed over time to show the improvements they've made to their technology. Just look at the teleportation Torii gates that used to have literal monks fueling the device together. Now we have more formal tanks with people in some state of suspension still fulfilling that role and such. Yes, it's still progress, but admittedly it's grim progress. But then I've established by now across these reviews that ethics have never been too big a concern for the Projects.

The Manhattan Projects Vol. 5 - The Cold War is a great continuation of the larger story and seems to represent a bit of a lull in the action as new plot threads are introduced into the larger tapestry of things. One can only wonder what will happen next. And thus the book gets 4 strange creatures not from Earth out of a possible 5.


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