Review Round-Up Part 2: All-New X-Men #5 and Manhattan Projects #8

Posted: January 5, 2013 in Image, Marvel, Reviews
Tags: , , , , , ,

by Phil Gibson

For the first week of 2013, I had a nice comic day indeed. After a slight setback in issue #4, All-New X-Men got back on track in a big way, and Manhattan Projects delivered with an awesome payoff for the last few issues worth of setup.

All-New X-Men #5

My only gripe with this series is that Marvel has been pushing it out too quickly. Five issues in barely two months is too fast, and the last issue in this series suffered for it. That being said, the fifth installment in Bendis’s mutant epic delivered, and in a big way. While there is little in the way of “action”, per se, Bendis handles the interactions between characters much better than in last issue. Jean Grey and Beast are the stars of the show here, which shows just how much better this comic is when it has focal characters. Bendis gives us an insight into the deep friendship between Hank and Jean, and uses their interaction to point out just how sorely missed Jean has been since her death. She is the conscience of the X-Men, something Bendis makes more clear with (SPOILERS) her revelation that the past-tense team will be staying to put Xavier’s dream right, knowing full well that, when they return to the past, she will still end up dying.

When Bendis is able to focus on individuals characters, he is one of the best in the business. His treatment of Luke Cage and Spider-Woman brought them to a level of relevance they had never had before. He is doing the same thing with Beast here. By bringing out Hank McCoy’s vulnerability, which is masked under his intellect and stubborn integrity, the character becomes relatable in a way he hasn’t been for some time. By returning Jean Grey to the fold, Bendis shows us just how much Beast has withdrawn from the other X-men the last few years. This is a writer who is definitely on his game.

I am excited to read X-Men stories going forward, so much that I am actually going to be adding the new Uncanny X-Men book to my pull list. Bendis is seemingly revitalizing the X-Men family with this series, and I am looking forward to seeing why comes next.

Manhattan Projects #8

It is hard to explain what I love about this book. This is Hickman gone wild, with no continuity to hold him back. This series feels like what he would have done in FF if the characters had belonged to him, and not Marvel. The scale is crazy huge, with the brightest (and least sane) minds of the twentieth century banding together to pull their scientific pursuits away from the powers that be. Why? I’m not sure, but the results are ridiculous and fun.

In this issue, we see the payoff for two issues worth of setup. As the soviet and American scientists have been combining their efforts to prepare a defense against potential alien invaders, the president of the US, along with FDR’s artificial intelligence and a host of other zany world leaders past and present, are none too happy about losing control of their mad scientists. S what do they do? Send virtual FDR to kill everybody. The entire idea of this issue, like the series, is ludicrous, but it works.

There are no “good guys” in this series, except perhaps the former Nazi rocket scientist Helmutt (yes, he’s a Nazi). Rather, there are morally questionable characters working for a “greater good”, and other characters who are only interested in control. It is hard to get invested in most of the characters, but the overall story is fairly engrossing. There’s little in the way of an overarching “moral to the story”. Instead, Hickman is play a big game of “what if” and letting his imagination run wild. For readers like me, who love science fiction, it’s a home run.

It is worth mentioning that Nick Pitarra is a fantastic artist. The only downside is that the release schedule for this book has been super slow. That’s not a huge deal for me, since I have double shipping books to contend with every month. The wait is definitely worth it, as Pitarra’s take on Frank Quitely style art is great to look at.

Manhattan Projects is probably not for everyone, but if you are looking for a zany escape from the superhero genre, it may be the book for you.


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