Review by Bill Stone
Science is still bad. In fact it’s getting worse in this second part of the Manhattan Projects storyline. If you were to accept the premise that all scientists are slightly bonkers and that the best ones completely off their trolley, you would be inclined to retreat to the country and if it were in your power, drastically cut funding for scientific research and ignore what science tells you. Still, that could never happen could it?
We continue with the cast of characters brought to life in Volume 1 and there’s a handy dramatis personnae or cast list at the back. Here we learn Joseph Oppenheimer, Richard Feynman, Enrico Fermi and others are Super Geniuses whilst Einstein is relegated to merely Highly Intelligent. This continuation introduces the characters of Yuri Gargarin and his pet dog Laika, who are respectively “Not a genius” and “Way smarter than thought”. That sly humour continues throughout the book, coupled with a gleeful twisting of history and a spectacularly bloodthirsty approach that earns a ‘Parental Guidance’ recommendation.
The story continues with Joseph Oppenheimer (the deranged twin and murderer of Robert) and his fellow scientists pushing on after their success with the atomic bomb and an alien genocide, and forging an alliance with the Russians via their facility at Star City. In pursuing their goals they enslave ex-Nazi scientists after branding them with a swastika on the forehead and their treatment plummets downhill from that highpoint. Internecine violence is the norm, although the methods of despatch become ever more imaginative.
Whilst all these scientific advances and progress are taking place, they come to the attention of the Illuminati, a group of beyond rich and powerful individuals that count amongst its members the first AI, the brain of Franklin D. Roosevelt; a Spanish wrestler who happens to be the head of the secret global banking cartel; the controller of all the wealth of the worlds religions; an ancient mummy with magical powers; the obese Ingol from the worlds emerging markets; and Harry S. Truman as POTUS and a nerdish pervert whose call to a meeting of the Illuminati interrupts a promising looking orgy complete with sheep, a horse, an alligator, Egyptian women and of course, a pizza being delivered.
The twisted whimsy, gratuitous violence and fevered speculation is leavened with some wry humour, with Laika making some valuable contributions as it turns out that part of being way smarter than thought is the ability to talk. What’s not to love about about a psychotic talking Russian space dog? Every home should have one.
The art of Nick Pitarra and Ryan Browne (on the final chapter), helped by colourist Jordie Bellaire perfectly captures the madness of the story, and makes it once more disquieting and disturbing. It will stay with you, although you may wish it didn’t. Nonetheless, recommended.