One of the most acclaimed miniseries in recent years for Image Comics was The Few, by Sean Lewis and Hayden Sherman, which depicts a dystopian America in which misfit characters on the run from authority figures. Now those collaborators have reunited to create a different vision of the future in their latest Image miniseries, Thumbs. And while the tropes of their previous work are present here, the new title is one of the most raw, prescient books yet from either creator.
Set in a not-so-distant future, the five-issue miniseries centers on a tech mogul who uses his social media applications and video games to recruit and train an army of followers as part of his bloody insurrection against the government. As the country, with its growing wealth divide and militarized police force, begins to tear itself apart, Charley Fellows, a gifted gamer who uses the online handle "Thumbs," is drawn right into the heart of the conflict in this terrifying dystopia.
As with most of Lewis' previous works (Coyotes, The Few, Saints), Thumbs hits the ground running, immediately instilling a sense of urgency in the narrative as readers are quickly drawn into the world. After the breakneck opening, the story begins to slow and expand, introducing the characters and status quo. It's a pacing technique that has served Lewis well, catching the attention of readers by launching in media res rather than with lengthy exposition and multiple character introductions. Lewis' opening is especially bold in its storytelling decisions, and, without spoiling the specifics, creates a multitude of questions about this new world that are virtually guaranteed to drive the story forward.
Another common trope from Lewis' earlier work is his use of young, misfit protagonists. He doubles down on that here, introducing an entire amateur army that finds relief from a harsh reality in the possibilities of technology. Exploited because of that, the protagonists are persecuted for their reliance on the applications, echoing real-world concerns of growing tech corporations and their impact on modern society. But, given the setting, the creative team leans more cyberpunk than Aldous Huxley, and much of this is apparent with Sherman's artwork.
Much of that is reminiscent of Metal Gear Solid artist Yoji Shinkawa with its raw, effusive line work, and the comparison remains evident here. But whereas The Few leaned more post-apocalyptic with its Mad Max-like environments, Thumbs takes place in a world that hasn't completely fallen into ruin -- at least, not yet. As such, Sherman's art is much cleaner here, particularly in the quieter moments, but becomes rougher during the action sequences; the rawness of the visuals and restrained, accented use of color increase the sense of urgency. Lewis has always displays a chemistry with his artistic collaborators, and here the duo recaptures lightning in a slightly more refined bottle.
In Thumbs, Lewis and Sherman channel their anxieties about the state of the world, from the unchecked rise of tech corporations to totalitarian governments. And while the story does certainly feel prescient, the creators deliver a solid, entertaining oversized debut issue that is guaranteed to thrill fans of their previous work while engaging new readers. A high-octane adventure with Sherman's raw, unflinching visuals and Lewis' taut pacing, Thumbs is shaping up to be another cult sci-fi classic for the team.