Chris KelleyEditor’s Note: Please enjoy the first in what we hope will be a regular feature where the esteemed Christopher Kelley reviews one cocktail and one comic book together…It’s Comics on the Rocks!

The Cocktail: Bushmills Irish Whiskey

The Comic: The Manhattan Projects #1 By Jonathan Hickman and Nick Pitarra, published by Image Comics

The Whiskey

I started out where I think a lot of people did:  Jack Daniels.  Now, I can’t even look at the bottle without wanting to vomit on the nearest bar stool. Bushmills is a different story altogether. She was my first love when it comes to whiskey.  Bushmills came into my life at a bar in Omaha, Neb., called The 49’r Lounge. Unfortunately, it was torn down and taken over by the evil CVS Pharmacy. It was nothing special, but I really did love that bar.

Bushmills comes from what is widely considered to be the oldest distillery in the world, the Old Bushmills Distillery in Northern Ireland. It dates all the way back to 1608. There is a very wide range of Bushmills whiskeys from the original White Label to the 400th anniversary whiskey, The 1608. My favorite bottle of Bushmills would have to be the 16 year. This is a single malt Irish whiskey that is aged in a combination of American bourbon barrels and Spanish Oloroso sherry casks. For the money (about $60 a bottle), this is one of the best Irish whiskeys you can buy.

Bushmills original — sometimes called White Bush or Bushmills White Label — is a staple in my home. This blended Irish whiskey is aged in American oak barrels and has a rich taste of vanilla, fresh fruit and honey. For me, it is the be-all and end-all of your everyday whiskey.

The Comic

For my first installment, I chose The Manhattan Projects #1 by Jonathan Hickman and Nick Pitarra. The first issue of this series came out in March 2012 and currently has 14 issues. I hadn’t read a lot of Hickman before this, aside from some of his Fantastic Four run and The Red Wing, which, to be honest, I thought was a bit convoluted.  I also wasn’t a huge fan of Pitarra’s artwork either. So, when I heard they were teaming up again, I was less than excited. Then, I read the premise: What if the research and development department created to produce the first atomic bomb was a front for a series of other, more unusual, programs?”

From that sentence alone I was hooked! Hickman has a way of storytelling that makes it feel like it’s the most important story you’ve ever read.  From the grandiose title pages to the universe-spanning ideas, he hooks you and doesn’t let go. He has big ideas that sometimes can get lost in themselves, but that is not the case with this book.  The cast of characters in this book is enough to grab your attention. Joseph Oppenheimer, Fermi Enrico, Albert Einstein, just to name a few.

The use of the colors blue and red by colorist Cris Peter is a great tool to show the different personalities of Joseph Oppenheimer.  Just wait until the end of this issue … gross.

It took me a while to warm up to Pitarra’s art. For the longest time, it just seemed like the poor man’s Frank Quietly, but that was put to bed with this issue. His level of detail blew me away. His facial expressions on Joseph Oppenheimer alone are something to envy. The way Pitarra shows you how insane that character really is just with his face is something so special.

With the 15th issue coming soon, this book hasn’t missed the mark yet. It has solidified itself time and time again as one of my favorite comics being published today.  Every issue gets better and better. If you’re a fan of alternate realities, science fiction and just plain madness, do yourself a favor and pick this book up. You will not be disappointed.

Thanks for reading,
Christopher Kelley

Chris Kelley is Matt Baum’s cousin. We try not to hold that against him.