Review: Joe Hill’s Thumbprint #1

Review of: Joe Hill’s Thumbprint
Product by:
Joe Hill and Jason Ciaramella

Joe Hill's Thumbprint

Reviewed by:
On June 12, 2013
Last modified:June 11, 2013


Joe Hill’s Thumbprint is an intense thriller.

Private Mallory Grennan had done terrible things as an Abu Ghraib prison worker. After being discharged from the army, Mal thought she was leaving her sins behind to start a new life back home. But some things can’t be left behind — some things don’t want to be left behind. By Joe Hill and Jason Ciaramella, the writing team that brought you the Eisner-award nominated one-shot, The Cape, with art by Vic Malhotra. Thumbprint will turn your guts inside out.

Thumbprint, a three issue series adapting the novella of the same name by Joe Hill (Locke & Key), kicks off this month. The story is being adapted by longtime Hill collaborator Jason Ciaramella with art by Vic Malhotra. Robbie Robbins rounds out the cast with his lettering. So how does the comic book version of thumbprint stack up against the original source?

Private Mallory Grennan has returned home after a long stint as an Abu Ghraib prison worker. She’s done bad things that still haunt her, but she’s trying to put that behind her now that she’s home. Her father died just mere hours before her plane touched down in New York. Things are getting just as bad at home and it’s harder to shake the horrible things she had to do at Abu Ghraib. Just from knowing she worked at that prison, you have a good idea of what she did- water boarding, “enhanced interrogations,” and other pretty rough things. She gets a job at a VFW bar. Her boss is a creep and he keeps making advances at Mallory. One nights she puts him in his place. It’s not long after that that she starts receiving odd pieces of mail. One envelope only contains a large thumbprint. It looks familiar, but Mallory can’t quite place it. It scares her a little, but she tries to think back on what it could be. Does it connect to her sins at Abu Ghraib? Is her boss getting back at her? Who is her strange new visitor?

Ciaramella and Hill have worked together in the past, so there’s no doubt that Ciaramella presents a strong story adapted from Hill’s work. It’s an intense and gritty story that explores a lot of things while presented in the box of a mystery. It’s for mature readers. The Abu Ghraib scenes are just as vivid and horrific as the news reports we’ve heard about what goes on there. The introductory issue does a lot of things, so it’s hard to predict where it will go. It definitely pulls the reader in though. Malhotra’s art works well with the dark and gritty realism the story presents. He adds real drama to the interrogation scenes in the prison.

Bottom Line: Joe Hill’s Thumbprint is an intense thriller. The first issue does everything it needs to do, but we don’t have a clear picture of what’s going on just yet. That’s perfectly fine, because I can’t wait to find out what’s next 4/5.

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