The Manhattan Projects 16

Today, Taylor and Drew are discussing The Manhattan Projects 16, originally released November 13th, 2013.

Taylor:  You know that one picture of Einstein, the one where he’s looking at the camera and playfully sticking his tongue out at the camera? Of course you do — of all the hundreds of pictures of Einstein that exist, that particular portrait sticks out in our collective consciousness. There are probably several reasons for that, but perhaps one of the most powerful is that the picture portrays the author of the general theory of relativity in the way we would like to think he existed. With his frizzy white hair and iconic mustache, Einstein cuts a figure that is both endearing and intelligent. We like to think of Einstein, the grand scientist, as having a playful and childlike streak because it makes him lovable and human, rather than untouchable and superhuman. In this way, we all liken ourselves to Einstein. If that zany dude can revolutionize the world, why not me?  However, this disregards the real Einstein, who was often angry and frustrated with himself and the science he devoted his life to. But which of these pictures of Einstein is more accurate and, more importantly, does it matter?

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Manhattan Projects 14

Alternating Currents: Manhattan Projects 14, Patrick and Drew

Today, Patrick and Drew are discussing Manhattan Projects 14, originally released September 11th, 2013.

Patrick: Lately, it feels like we’re in the business of reading big dumb crossover events. One of the benefits of these things is that it allows for a smattering of characters from all across the universe (and all throughout the history of said universe) to interact. Say what you will about the various contrivances that jam these characters together — there’s something super compelling about watching them interact. Jonathan Hickman manages the same feat with Manhattan Projects, pulling his cast from the history books. There are similar logical inconsistencies, but if you just accept that he wanted these characters to interact as badly as Geoff Johns wanted John Constantine to match wits with Batman, then it totally works. Issue 14 of Manhattan Projects serves as a real-world Crisis on Infinite 1960s. Continue reading

Manhattan Projects 13

Alternating Currents: Manhattan Projects 13, Drew and PatrickToday, Drew and Patrick are discussing Manhattan Projects 13, originally released August 7th, 2013.

Drew: We often joke about “historical fiction” being an oxymoron, but that mostly stems from a misperception of just how fictionalized history is. Indeed, if history were simply a compilation of irrefutable facts, we could probably stop writing books about the life of Abraham Lincoln or whatever. Instead, we have a messy timeline made up of conflicting accounts and countless ways of explaining all of it. To me, the biggest difference between history and historical fiction is that history needs to back up its conclusions with more facts — it’s basically the narrative between to factual points — whereas historical fiction treats the facts more as a starting point, but doesn’t need to tie back to any facts. In that way, Manhattan Projects has become a kind of meta-historical fiction, taking a fictionalized conclusion as its starting point, and building to ever more spectacular fictions. It’s never been anything other than divorced from reality, but as the narrative continues, it somehow manages to become even less related to history. Continue reading

Manhattan Projects 12

Alternating Currents: Manhattan Projects 12, Drew and Patrick

Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing Manhattan Projects 12, originally released June 12th, 2013.

Oh my God. Oh my God! Oh my God! The whole time? The whole time, you were – THE WHOLE TIME?!

-Sally Field as Miranda Hillard
Mrs. Doubtfire

Drew: I love a good twist. Nothing is better than being surprised by a narrative — especially with something that fundamentally shifts the paradigm of the story. Of course, it’s possible to go too big with a twist — if you change the foundation too much, you run the risk of invalidating the emotional connections based on that foundation. Obviously, it’s difficult to bring up examples without spoiling some big twists, which hopefully explains the epigraph — by the climax of Mrs. Doubtfire Sally Field’s character is basically the only person that doesn’t know Robin Williams is her nanny, but that doesn’t negate her growing sense of betrayal as she realizes that this was the case THE WHOLE TIME. I had a similar reaction as Manhattan Projects 12 reveals that Fermi isn’t the character we think he is. When Harry reveals that he knows Fermi is an alien at the end of Manhattan Projects 11, Patrick and I were touched — we saw their friendship as the sweet story of two outsiders who found each other. In issue 12, Jonathan Hickman rips that still-beating heart out through our eye-holes, and lets us know that it was all a lie, anyway. Continue reading

Manhattan Projects 11

manhattan projects 11

Today, Patrick and Drew are discussing Manhattan Projects 11, originally released April 24th, 2013.

Patrick: We take the term of “science fiction” for granted. It’s a genre and an aesthetic that has become ironically formulaic over the years. Just as “fantasy” increasing means a cookie-cutter world of elves and goblins and dragons, “science fiction” means spaceships and lasers and aliens (or robots, so say we all). Jonathan Hickman’s Manhattan Projects returns to the source of the phrase and delivers a series both surprisingly scientific and excitingly fictional. I’m still tinkering with the punctuation, but I think “science/fiction” is the most appropriate. Continue reading