3.07.12 Reviews (Part 3)

The Manhattan Projects #1 (Image): I’ve always said that Jonathan Hickman’s creator owned projects at Image are where it’s at, so just ignore all that Marvel franchise work, ok? I loved me some Pax Romana, and appreciated stuff like Transhuman for how it captured the Silicon Valley boom mentality I lived through juuust right, but this here has to be his best effort yet. Nick Pitarra has also never looked better, aided by Cris Peter on colors, who is surely a rising star among colorists with that pop art palette and the sense of glee it brings. Pitarra’s art is full of lean detail, Frank Quitely-ish I’d say, but with a thicker line weight (something akin to Chris Burnham in Officer Downe) to give it some more oomph, then with a dash of Geoff Darrow thrown in for good measure on those full pages battle royale scenes. The hook is strong, about Oppenheimer (heh) operating beyond the discrete context of the atomic bomb, and Hickman does his best Warren Ellis impersonation on the sci-fi. We’re talking about “mining pan-dimensional space for fringe materials” and the “sentient origami incident.” It’s manic in the good way with abundant creative ideas, a backbone that’s a serious examination of two brothers, one the darkness and one the light, both necessary for the other to exist, Einstein locked away for some mysterious reason, the most obvious twist that no one saw coming used to fuel this alternate history, and the intent to explore that old scientific paradox of balancing what can be done with what should be done. Grade A.

Hell Yeah #1 (Image): I wasn’t very familiar with Joe Keatinge, but the strength of Glory urged me to check out this new book as well, and… I’m not so glad I did unfortunately. The first think I immediately noticed was that the art is rendered with this fuzzy blurry overly-digital looking quality up front. It’s almost as if it was done so deliberately by illustrator Andre Szymanowicz to capture like an amateur video effect(?) or something, but there’s no clue in the script that that’s why it looks the way it does. If you get past that, you’re then treated to all kinds of exposition about who the kid is, what the school he goes to is supposed to be for, painful flashbacks that are highly expositional, etc. It settles down from that blurry quality, but then becomes stiff and wooden in spots, with all of the posturing being just a little screwy and unnatural. Deep down, I think there might be an interesting core premise here, sort of an anti-Sky High vibe, with the latest generation of heroes in a super-powered world being socialized into carrying on their parents’ roles, but this one is snotty and poor at it. The sudden emergence of a group of JLA/Authority type heroes and their “Michelangelo Moment” that will change the world just feels a little tired, like another recycled set of ideas. Hell Yeah lacks the sense of “new” and “fresh” that the other Image titles of late have embodied. They can’t all be winners, so check out Prophet, Glory, The Manhattan Projects, or wait for Saga, Mara, or any number of the upcoming Image releases instead. That’s my recommendation. Grade B-.


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