Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing The Manhattan Projects 24, originally released October 8th, 2014.
“How did they build those pyramids?” They just threw human death and suffering at them until they were finished. “How did we traverse the nation with a railroad so quickly?” We just threw Chinese people in caves and blew ’em up and didn’t give a shit what happened to them. There’s no end to what you can do when you don’t give a fuck about particular people. You can do anything. That’s where human greatness comes from: that we’re shitty people and we fuck others over.
Drew: Has the phrase “you can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs” ever been used for anything other than falsely justifying horrific acts? It’s so strongly associated with evil advisors, it’s a wonder that it could ever persuade a unsure advisee, but it also has the unfortunate quality of being true to our experience of the world. Few, it seems, ever reach the top without the boost of standing on someone else’s neck. It’s easy to become bitter about people being used as pawns, but it’s also the stuff of great dramas — to what lengths are people willing to go in order to attain power? Manhattan Projects obviously has more in common with those heightened fictions than reality, but issue 24 never minimizes the monstrosities its protagonists commit in order to hold on to power, focusing on one of the more traumatizing events in US History. Continue reading →
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 →
Today, 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 →
Patrick: Before Watchmen: Comedian is so dense with historical and cultural references that it often comes off as clinical. It’s only upon peeling back the layers that the reader is rewarded with emotionally effective storytelling. The finale is no exception, so let’s cut the bullshit and unpack what just happened.
Patrick: “…if we don’t play by no rules… losing is fucking impossible.” We’ve mulled over where Eddie Blake’s nihilism comes from. Is it just something in the way his mind works or is it the product of his time and circumstance? Is it a philosophy he came to on his own, or was it forced on him by tragedy and suffering? Is an agent capable of setting history into motion or a product of that history?
Drew: Comedian 4 begins with the opening lyric from Simon and Garfunkel’s “The Sounds of Silence.” This isn’t in itself remarkable — Watchmen itself drew many of its chapter titles from lyrics, and many entries in Before Watchmen have prominently featured lyrics in a similar way. What is unusual about it is that it is immediately followed by a lyric from The Who’s “I Can See for Miles,” with the excerpted lyrics forming a brief thesis on Eddie Blake’s nihilism: “Hello darkness…Here’s the surprise. Come to talk with you again. I can see for miles…Miles and miles and miles and miles…” Continue reading →
Shelby: So far, I have been very impressed with Before Watchmen. Minute Men was a great intro to the series, setting us up for a closer look at the slightly old-timey adventures of Alan Moore’s original crime-fighting team. Silk Spectre took things a step further by expanding on a couple of under-represented characters, adding depth to the original story. Comedian, though, takes things further yet: Brian Azzarello counters accepted truths in Moore’s story of Eddie Blake, the Comedian. And you know what? It works really well.