Reviews, Comics

The Six Fingers #1 Advanced Review: A Dark Path

Step into the futuristic world of Neo Novena in ‘The Six Fingers’ #1, the latest psychological thriller comic by Dan Watters and Sumit Kumar.

The Six Fingers 1 Review Cover
Image: Image Comics
By: Javier ReyesFeb 23, 2024, 1:54 AM

The Six Fingers #1

Review
Rating
9
Good
The Six Fingers 1 Full Cover

Writer: Dan Watters

Artist: Sumit Kumar

Publisher: Image Comics

Release Date: February 21, 2024

Page Count: 32

Format: Single-issue

On its own, ‘The Six Fingers’#1 is a fascinating start to a psychological thriller comic following an obsessed man’s pursuit of a dark truth. However, because of its connection to the neo-noir series ‘The One Hand,’ the narratives of both comics are elevated by the parallel storytelling at play.

The incredible thing about indie comics is that you’ll always find creators experimenting with new ways to tell stories. By not being confined to the superhero universes of Marvel and DC, creators can freely explore unique worlds and tell stories within them however they want. One such world is that of Neo Novena, the gritty and futuristic city created by White Noise Studio members Ram V and Dan Watters. With ‘The One Hand,’ Ram V and artist Laurence Campbell introduced readers to the streets of Neo Novena through the lens of detective Ari Nasser as he investigates a mysterious murder with an eerily similar MO to The One Hand Killer. This week comes the release of ‘The Six Fingers’ by Dan Watters and Sumit Kumar, which tells the story of the man who unknowingly committed that horrific murder. Together, the comics tell simultaneous stories that cover both sides of the mysterious murder case, each with unique themes and perspectives. Want to know more? Read on for my review of ‘The Six Fingers’ #1! 

Overview

Johannes Vale is a striving archeologist seeking to get a grant to continue his father’s research. He is obsessed with the idea of filling in the gaps of knowledge about history, and he believes the artifacts his father discovered years ago hold the key to that. But as bright as he is, Johannes’ mentors believe he is chasing after a pipe dream. So, to get by, Johannes works a menial day job at Neo Novena’s power factory. Little does he know that his high radiation exposure is changing him mentally and physically. It all comes to a head when Johannes realizes a gap in his memory does not align with reality, which leads to a very dark discovery. With so much of his life crashing down simultaneously, he must uncover the truth behind what’s happening to his mind and body.

The Six Fingers 1 - in the gapsImage: Image Comics

Review

As a general rule in my reviews, I try to avoid making comparisons or references to other comics so that the focus is on whatever new title I’m covering. But I need to make an exception for 'The Six Fingers' because its brilliance goes hand-in-hand (pun intended) with Ram V and Laurence Campbell’s new comic, ‘The One Hand.’ While made by different creative teams, the two comics work in conjunction with each other as their stories explore the opposing sides of a mysterious murder case. Together, they create a converging narrative about two men searching for truth in a city shrouded by sin and lies. However, as closely tied as the two series are, they are fundamentally and thematically different. Where ‘The One Hand’ reads like a neo-noir detective story, ‘The Six Fingers’ is more of a psychological thriller. Reading both sides of the intriguing narrative ultimately gives you a greater understanding of the characters and what the futuristic city of Neo Novena is like.

Because the themes and storytelling styles of both comics are so different, they establish the unique perspectives of the overarching narrative’s main characters. In ‘The One Hand,’ the noir aesthetics emphasize Detective Ari Nasser’s hard-boiled personality as he tirelessly investigates one final case. Johannes Vale, on the other hand, is an obsessive archeologist and pathological control freak whose behavior leads him down a dark and destructive path. By piecing together the stories of ‘The One Hand’ and ‘The Six Fingers,’ it’s made abundantly clear that Johannes is the killer with six fingers Detective Nasser is looking for. But due to the mutations he’s experiencing from radiation exposure, Johannes has no recollection of committing the murder and why it's eerily patterned around the One Hand Killer. Seeing the story through the lens of Johannes drastically shifts your perspective of the events witnessed by Detective Nasser, making the mystery less about who the killer is and more about why he is committing the murders. 

The Six Fingers 1 - dirt on handImage: Image Comics

The art of the comic also plays a big role in setting the story’s tone. Compared to Laurence Campbell's gritty art style in ‘The One Hand,’ Sumit Kumar’s style is more animated here for ‘The Six Fingers.’ With more vibrant colors and expressive character designs, Kumar and colorist Lee Loughridge bring to life a different side of Neo Novena that was hardly shown in ‘The One Hand.’ However, despite its more cartoonish style, the art can get excessively dark and gory in parts of the story. As the comic explores more of Johannes’ fracturing mind, I can only imagine the visuals getting even more twisted from here.

Final Thoughts

I’m a sucker for unique concepts in comics, and what they are doing here with the new Neo Novena series hits the spot. As much as I enjoyed reading ‘The One Hand’ first on its own, I was impressed by how much the story gets elevated from reading ‘The Six Fingers’ alongside it. While you can read them stand-alone, you’ll be doing yourself a disservice by not experiencing the big picture from reading both. The parallel storytelling makes for a unique experience with plenty of opportunities to take the narrative in wild directions. After just the first two issues, I’m hooked on seeing where this saga within the streets of Neo Novena goes next. 

The Six Fingers - talking in the roomImage: Image Comics

Why You Should Read The Six Fingers

  • The stories of ‘The One Hand’ and ‘The Six Fingers’ are better when you read them together. 
  • You learn more about the futuristic world of Neo Novena
  • Johannes makes for a very compelling protagonist who contrasts Detective Ari Nasser.

TAGGED: Image Comics
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