For the half-way point of this journey, I wanted to take a minute and talk about a comic book. There are a lot of great science fiction comic books, and if you count super-heroes as
science fiction then there are tons of great science fiction comic books. Today, however, I’m going to be talking about one that isn’t. It’s a good comic book, but it’s not a great one, and while it deals with science as fiction, it isn’t science fiction.
The Manhattan Projects is a creator-owned comic written by prominent (for comics) writer Jonathan Hickman. Hickman specializes in twisty-tervy plots that only just make sense, that have sub-plots within sub-plots, and a habit of messing with time. A lot of people love him. I think he’s okay, but I do love TMP. Volume one, “Science. Bad.” is a re-imagining of the Cold War as if we had met aliens along the way, and FDR was actually an AI. It’s goofy and incredulous and a lot of fun. Sometimes I think we forget to have fun in science fiction.
The comic itself is cheap satire. Presidents are exaggerated: JFK is a secret sex addict, FDR is constantly trying to take over the organization, and scientists are too.
It’s often ridiculous but also hilarious. Maybe it’s the times we live in, but it also feels true. I like science fiction because it shows us what is through what could be. All the great stuff is basically a foil for the time it was written in.
And while TMP aren’t going to win a Nebula anytime soon, there’s something to be said for a comic book about aliens and presidents that can feel accurate.