Before I get into the specifics of The Manhattan Projects, a new series from writer Jonathan Hickman and artist Nick Pitarra, one passing observation: The Manhattan Projects exemplifies a couple of notable trends in comics in 2012 (the flagship for both of which is Saga, discussed last time around).

The first is the resurgence of its publisher, Image Comics, which has become the vehicle of choice for a pretty dramatic new wave of creator-owned comics from well-known writers and artists. The second is the dominance of speculative, and especially science, fiction as the genre of choice for those talented creators. 2012 has been, in part, the year of those two things in comicsworld: Image Comics and sf. If you’re not an habitual comics reader you won’t have noticed, of course; but the comics industry as a whole sure has.

Even if they’re both part of a bigger pattern, though, Saga and The Manhattan Projects are as different as different can be. If Saga was all about understated, relaxed mastery of the medium, The Manhattan Projects is crazy, dense, inventive, satirical, provocative, flashy and all about being uniquely itself. It’s really a whole lot easier to experience the thing than to describe it, but for my sins I’m here to attempt the latter.

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