Nut Ink. Mini reviews of texts old and new. No fuss. No plot spoilers. No adverts. Occasional competency.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

The Manhattan Projects: Volume 3: Building. (2013)

Author: Jonathan Hickman | Artists: Nick Pitarra / Ryan Browne | Page Count: 152

This whole thing has just come completely off the rails."

I like to try and distil a book down to just one word, which is a crazy thing to do, I admit, but it helps me plot the journey that a serialised work takes from one point on a map to the next point in the most fundamental way. The word for this book is SECRETS. TMP is a secret organisation and each member of the group has their own. Within that framework a small number of new projects are undertaken that split the group into little pockets of filler. One of them is an undisclosed undertaking by one specific member and is the only part of the story that goes anywhere interesting. There's a probability the others will get their time to shine in the next volume, but I'm not prepared to bet any money on it.

Which brings me to the quote above; it was chosen for two reasons. It's spoken by one of the group but they echo my own sentiments and quite possibly the author's own. It's like a commentary or an admission that's pertinent not just to what's happening on the page but to the creative process and the story's construction as a whole.  The characters are there but they don't really do anything, except for Oppenheimer and he gets pushed aside for too long. When he does come back it becomes clear that his story is the only one still firmly on track, which in Oppenheimer's case means he's very much "off the rails," but in a good way; good for us, at least. He's the man with the most secrets and they're fighting inside his head for dominance.

The series started strong and then hit a rocky patch, but the slide in quality in this volume was even steeper than I'd predicted. Throwing in a great ending each time won't be enough to sustain reader interest if the overall strength and focus doesn't pick up a little in the next book. I really hope it does because TMP is unusual and I love to see the unusual be successful.

Nick Pitarra's art is as good as ever, or as bad as ever if you're not a fan of his style. Ryan Browne fills in for one chapter but you'll likely hardly notice the difference because his style mimics Pitarra's well and Bellaire's colouring keeps everything beautifully unified.

The book collects together The Manhattan Projects issues 11–15.

2½ space perverts out of 5

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