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Comic Review: Thumbprint #1
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Thumbprint #1
Based on the novella by Joe Hill
Written by Jason Ciaramelia
Art by Vic Malhotra
Letters by Robbie Robbins
Cover by Vic Malhotra
IDW Publishing
Release Date: June 12, 2013
Cover Price: $3.99

As a country we are basically supportive of our troops, usually believing them to be acting in our best interests. Unfortunately, sometimes those same soldiers make poor decisions that haunt them to the end of their days. Thumbprint #1 sets up a story that is much like that, all centered around a soldier who made some choices with which she is trying to learn to live.

Private First Class Mallory Grennan is newly arrived back in the United States after serving abroad, arriving home only to find her father has just recently died. She quickly realizes that she is still living in his shadow even after his death. Working at the local VFW bar, his old friends are constantly reminding her of what a great man he was, a medic and a hero. Purple Heart, Silver Star…he really embodied what it meant to be a proper soldier. Unfortunately, sometimes the apple falls far from the tree.

What makes basically decent people do horrifying things? Was it the war? Or are we all somehow twisted inside and just awaiting the opportunity to do these terrible things that we all hear about (but cannot even fathom) while we sit on our couches watching television? Whatever the reason Grennan committed the atrocities, she knows they are her burden to carry until the end of her days. Emotionally bankrupt, she goes through her days like a mindless automaton, serving drinks and listening to the veterans at the bar.

That is until one day, when she receives an envelope with a sheet of paper in it. On that sheet is a single thumbprint but nothing else. Feeling threatened, but not knowing why, she runs indoors. A sudden flashback reminds her of some of the things she helped with in Iraq…Abu Ghraib, to be exact. Humiliation and torture were mainstays there and she was hip deep in it all. Finally shaking the anxiety off, she goes out for a while, returning home to find yet another envelope and thumbprint. Showing a bit of bravado she makes some threats not knowing who is to blame. The last panel, however, shows things may be a bit closer to home than she might realize.

Joe Hill is one dark dude. Discounting his lineage, his books alone prove that. Don’t get me wrong, he and his work are awesome…just a bit twisted. Having his novella adapted into comic form is pretty cool. Having Jason Ciaramelia write it was a stroke of genius. This comic creates a creepy feeling, building anxiety as events unfold. Vic Malhotra has a firm grip on the art, assisting the reader with the essential visuals but not overwhelming the story. Muted and soft colors permeate the comic, providing us with a feeling of discontent and sadness throughout the story. Additionally, Robbie Robbins handled the lettering for this issue, and I’ve been seeing a lot of his handiwork lately (it’s really nice and crisp).

Seriously, it’s Joe Hill’s story and I shouldn’t need to say more. You know, Joe Hill of Locke & Key fame? Author of a plethora of books, comics and other stories. Geez, you people need to get out more. Or stay in and read more, anyway. But on the merits of the comic itself, it should do exceptionally well. It’s centered on something that most adults can understand and it focuses on an individual, rather than a group. And she is a very flawed individual with many regrets. Moreover, it’s a story about a human who did some inhuman things and the backlash it has created. But keep in mind this one isn’t for the kiddos, though the adults might just find themselves hooked. I advise you to grab a copy, you’ll be very surprised. It’s not your normal comic book offering…not by a long shot.

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