The sophomore slump is a notion that plagues all popular media, including comics. There is a slump to Thumbs, the new miniseries following writer Sean Lewis and artist Hayden Sherman’s 2017 premiere of The Few. Both the concept and the visual tune of this new miniseries are very familiar to their first collaboration. However, there are two things that set this sophomore slump apart and has me wanting to provide it with a hearty collaboration: First, far too few people ready that first, aptly named, series leaving it out of the top 300 sales chart altogether. And secondly, The Few was an exceptional comic and something that’s a bit too similar is still pretty close to an exceptional comic.
Thumbs introduces another dystopian future complete with guerilla warfare, technological commentary, critiques of the modern American political system, and very tall, slender white trees. This time the protagonist is part of the band of rebels, rather than a soldier for powerful forces, and has been selected and trained by video games to help fight government forces. Lewis’ focus on how both right and left policies can go to far and concerns about how technology alters human relationships are evident again from the start, and the points being made don’t feel much evolved. However, those ideas help fuel another easily accessed and potently stark setting for the forthcoming adventure. It provides Sherman all that’s need to craft a thrilling first issue.
Sherman’s works is a sharp and angular as ever. Long horizontal lines track with the panels providing most panels with a strong sense of motion. Dialogue moves quickly and the action simply flies. Sherman uses a spread to slow down that action, capturing and repeating it on television monitors before the shapes of a shared audience. That slowing down helps to focus on the suddenness of violence. The frames of video don’t quite connect making each new turn jump rather than flowing with the naturalness of Sherman’s typical panel transitions.
All of this feels less surprising and more comfortable after reading The Few. This is Sherman’s sweet spot and something he has shown plenty of ability to accomplish in the past. Those encountering his work for this first time will enjoy it more than those looking to see what else he can do. That comes in the form of small, aesthetically displeasing touches to characters. Skin bubbles up around the eyes (reminding one of Frank Miller) and the lines become smudged when looking at the humanity of these individuals. They are less sharp than their settings and all the more vulnerable for it. The close up images of eyes and mouths are as compelling as the action sequences, and they help slow the pacing of this wonderfully quick introduction as well.
In an era where dystopian tales are far too easy to find, Thumbs still catches the eye with ease. Character work still takes center stage, offering a compelling story however one engages with the concepts on display. They are all brought to life in a brutal fashion that matches the hostile world surrounding them. The rarest splash of neon pink maintains a pulse in the heart of this dark new nightmare. Even as it repeats itself, it’s still a joy to take in this familiar vision of the future.
Published by Image Comics
On June 5, 20190comments
Written by Sean Lewis
Art by Hayden Sherman