By d. emerson eddy — These days it feels like practically everyone is a gamer. Whether it's on a console, PC, or mobile device , we all seem to be playing something. Even businesses have apparently been working in a gamification process for workplace activities, if reports on Amazon practices are to be believed. Indeed, the widespread popularity and acceptance of gaming seems to have permeated Western culture, with all eyes turned to coverage of announcement conventions like E3 and what feels like every kid on the planet playing games like Fortnite, Overwatch, Team Fortress 2, Playerunknown's Battlegrounds, and old stalwarts like Call of Duty and Battlefield.
It's these online battle royale, hero, and team shooters that the new comic Thumbs partially taps into, mining the zeitgeist to create a world where a “philanthropic” billionaire is giving free games and tech to poor and underprivileged children, clandestinely building an army out of disenfranchised children, who are raised literally by their technology. It's a brilliant set-up from The Few's reuniting team of Sean Lewis and Hayden Sherman. Setting up a plausible sci-fi world just one step removed from being an actual possibility, tapping into some of the worst fears of parents and overzealous politicians tubthumping that video games make children violent. It's nonsense in real life, but here the government's fear looks to be well founded. Kids are literally being molded into weapons.
But it's more than just a setting, this first issue also introduces us to our point of view character in Thumbs himself, one of the latchkey kids who found himself among the highest percentile within the game. Though somewhat fleeting, Lewis and Sherman expertly-develop the characters of Thumbs, his sister Tabitha, and Thumbs' friend and co-high level gamer, Nia, giving a very personal feel to the story. I wouldn't be surprised if there was a further twist, but even on a surface level this is intriguing.
The world is fleshed out visually by Sherman, cast in an interesting mix of blue-grey tones and bright pink, giving it a feel of what I'd call retro-futurism. Like a more noir version of Blade Runner, but with the bright lights intact. The details in the architecture and the endless maze of Thumbs' trailer park are very nice.
Also, these issues are almost triple the length of a normal comic. It costs a dollar more, but the content is well worth it. This expanded length makes this book feel weighty while also allowing the story room to breathe. Along with a back-up that fleshes out a little more about the technology in this world.
Overall, this is another great debut from Lewis and Sherman. They're creating an intriguing world that feels like it's right next door to now. This gets a mighty Thumbs up.
Writer: Sean Lewis
Artist: Hayden Sherman
Publisher: Image Comics
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d. emerson eddy is a student and writer of things. He fell in love with comics during Moore, Bissette, & Totleben's run on Swamp Thing and it has been a torrid affair ever since. His madness typically manifests itself on Twitter @93418.