ADVANCE REVIEW Joe Hill’s Thumbprint #1

Written by: Jason Ciaramelia
Art by: Vic Malhotra

Thumbprint #1 is what happens when you put Maria Hill in Zero Dark Thirty. If the references are beyond you, I mean that this book is full of thrill, with a powerful female lead. Based on Joe Hill’s novella of the same name, Jason Ciaramelia puts a modern spin on someone who is considered a war hero, and shows us the consequences their immoral actions, they once thought were untraceable.

The story begins with narrative context; Private Mallory Grennan is remorseful for the torture she put terrorist suspects through overseas. Her father, a Vietnam War veteran, is deceased upon returning home, and she does not get a chance to vent with him about the horrors she put her victims through. Ciaramella shifts the narration from being warm and personal to sharp an edgy, to parallel Mallory’s external actions. We see her as a stark bartender,  beat up a married man who tries to seduce her, and get a glimpse at her time as a soldier, interrogating a terrorist suspect.

The interrogation scene is brutal, yet riveting. It’s one of those moments where part of you wants to look away, but your eyes push throw the panels in anticipation. Artist Vic Malhotra, whose work can be compared to David Aja’s on Hawkeye, creates a truly twisted sequence. The colours are perfect, casting shadows over most things in the scene except the horrified expressions and menacing tools in the room.

The art is a little clunky in the scene where Mallory kicks John Petty out of her car for making a pass towards her. The chain of events take a couple read-throughs to fully understand. Otherwise, the visuals are fantastic, in particular the panel of Mallory cocking her gun in the shadows of her home.

With plenty of intrigue and action, this issue is a stellar read, and a well-paced comic. The lead character is well defined through narration in the present, and flashbacks. Thumbprint #1 successfully establishes the premise and with suspense, teases the consequences that Mallory Grennan will be dealt with as a result of her actions.

Score: 8.3/10