Thumbprint has proved itself to be a captivating mini-series to me. After receiving the first two issues to get prepared for #3, I flew through them. Based on a novella of the same name by Joe Hill, it’s really something that you wouldn’t expect from the writer of Locke & Key. It’s more of a crime-thriller, and an above average one at that. The story follows Mallory Grennan, a First Class Private in the army who was a soldier with a dark past in Abu Ghraib. Her father was a war hero, but she took a different path. A photo surfaced of her standing on a dead enemy solider with one boot on his head. She admittedly said that she was lucky the frame of the picture didn’t get more of her; only Mallory’s boot was visible in the photo. This wasn’t enough evidence for her to be formally charged, but if you zoomed out the picture as they show in the panel next to it, you can clearly see Mallory, along with a pile of dead enemy soldiers in the background.
Fast forward a bit and she’s back home, 8 months out of Abu Ghraib. Her father dies in New York, and now Mallory doesn’t care who hears her story, for nobody’s judgment mattered but his. Back in civilian life, she moved into her deceased father’s house and works as a bartender at a local VFW. One of her co-workers named John who makes Mallory sick, has been trying to get with her before she even left for Iraq. “He’s married with four kids and lives with his wife’s parents. He has no car.” He persuades Mallory to give him a ride home. On their walk to the car, John steals a drunk old man’s wedding ring. It turns out that it’s Glen, a regular at the VFW. On the car ride home, John makes a move on Mallory, who has no part of it. She elbows him in the nose and throws him out on the street. When she gets her mail the next morning, she receives a piece of paper with nothing but a thumbprint on it (hence the title). There’s no stamp on the envelope, which means someone had to physically put it in her mailbox. This makes you think at first it’s obviously John, but in issue #2 you may be able to put the pieces together.
Without recapping the whole series, one of Mallory’s comrades named Anshaw throws a captured bomb-maker out of a transport vehicle in issue #2 due to the fact that he spit on Mallory. The bomb-maker gets seriously injured, but is able to escape because in the fall, his THUMB FALLS OFF. That hint good enough for you? The bomb-maker escapes his handcuffs since he’s able to slip through them with no thumb, and Anshaw is discharged and sent to a veteran’s hospital for PTSD.
I’m thinking that 95% of people can put the puzzle together in issue #2. But, the story is easy to follow and interesting enough that you will want to find out what happens in issue #3. Anshaw breaks into Mallory’s home and explains his diabolical plan. He’s delusional and thinks that everyone in the army was out to get him. He killed one of the higher officers, Corporal Plough (along with others), and sent his thumbprint to Mallory. The thumbprints were basically threats to Mallory, because it was Anshaw’s way of interrogating people. If they didn’t tell him if Mallory was included in this keeping watch over Anshaw, he’d cut off their thumb.
He ends up-you guessed it-cutting off Mallory’s thumb after handcuffing her (included with a gruesome sneak peek of Anshaw’s Guide to Easy Thumb Removal). Then Mallory, all too similar to the bomb-maker, escapes the handcuffs and proceeds to kill Anshaw with her trusty pistol. There’s no happy ending here however, as a doctor gives Mallory a shot of morphine and says “This will help with the pain,” she mutters “No… it won’t.” The last panel is presumably Anshaw’s funeral which Mallory attends…with a necklace strung with thumbs.
The art wasn’t anything spectacular, but really hit home with the type of story it was conveying. The art was bleak and minimalistic, which matched the overall tone of the book precisely.
If you’re looking for a crime thriller that actually takes until the very end to figure out, has tons of twists and turns, and is incredibly original like Revival, look elsewhere. But, if you’re looking for a quick read in the genre and a book that has an interesting enough story to keep you hooked throughout, be sure to check out Thumbprint.
Story: Joe Hill
Script/Adaptation: Jason Ciaramella
Artist: Vic Malhotra
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Release Date: 8/28/13