Thumbs #3 // Review
A young revolutionary gets a history lesson embedded in a virtual combat training program. Elsewhere two teens are stalked through a forest by soldiers with glowing red eyes. Writer Sean Lewis’ dystopian cyberpunk series Thumbs steadily marches through another somewhat stylish issue drawn in reds blacks and shades of blue by Hayden Sherman. Lewis’ underlying premise for the dystopian world begins to feel remarkably weak this issue as the interpersonal drama ramps-up. As witnessed this issue, Thumbs is at its best when drama mixes with action in a dizzyingly tumultuous world of exploitation and revolution.
A young revolutionary is being put through a training exercise by her mother program. A red AI that is teaching her combat skills. Having seen misery and destruction, she’s understandably a bit upset about the whole bloody revolution and wants to know more about why they’re fighting for what they’re fighting for. The explanation comes as virtual turrets fire at her in the training protocol. Elsewhere the kid named Thumbs is being pursued by genuine government soldiers in helmets with three glowing red dots. Sacrifices must be made if he is to escape the government agents that he would prefer to surrender to simply.
The partial history of the origins of the revolution feels remarkably silly. Of course, they ARE being delivered by an AI with an agenda, so there’s a chance that something far more sinister is afoot as Lewis’ story continues. The specifics of the sci-fi premise aren’t terribly compelling. Thumbs is an amplification of current events twisted into something far darker. It’s nice and everything, but it lacks insight into the world it’s holding a mirror up to. Where the story REALLY lives is in the starkly dramatic emotional lives of the characters...particularly Thumbs. He’s exhausted and ready to give up, but the revolution won’t let him. There’s a powerful sense of gravity about that which gives the issue its heart.
Sherman shoots the panels through very dramatic angles that amplify both action and drama. The red/blue/grey color scheme suits the series well, but elements of the visuals feel as though they could benefit from a full range of color. The distinction between the “real world” of real danger and the virtual world of history and training doesn’t feel strong enough. The hazy difference between real combat and simulation might be cunningly intentional, but all the action pummeling the reader throughout the issue ends up feeling a bit more repetitious than it would if the training program at the beginning of the issue felt more visually distinct.
The immersive nature of the world of Thumbs can be kind of a fun dive. But the real gravity of the story lies in the drama that the series simply isn’t focussing on all that much. So much of the background feels like a distraction. Thumbs a good series that could carry far more impact if it simply chose to heighten the focus on the emotional end of the drama.