Review: Ten Grand #1
A bold new era begins with the long-anticipated return of Joe’s Comics, the imprint that brought you MIDNIGHT NATION and RISING STARS. All-new stories from J. MICHAEL STRACZYNSKI (Babylon 5, Jeremiah, Thor, Amazing Spider-Man, Superman: Earth One) return in 2013 with an action packed lineup featuring everything from superhero action to supernatural thrillers. Watch this space as a new wave of exciting, challenging and experimental stories begins!
Joe’s Comics is back. The imprint is a section of IMAGE where experiments with stories that aren’t quite mainstream or corporate enough get their chance to find readers. The first book out of the gate this times is Ten Grand. It is written by J. Michael Straczynski with illustrations from Ben Templesmith. Troy Peteri provides lettering. So is Ten Grand worth the price, or should you look for a better deal?
Our story is about Joe Fitzgerald. Joe was a mob enforcer who did a lot of bad things. He did have one good thing in his life though, and her name was Laura. Laura talked Joe into leaving the enforcer lifestyle after he finished one last job. The problem was that the man Joe was sent to murder for the crime family was into demonology. The man set lose a horde of demonic creatures and murdered Laura and Joe in their apartment. An angel appeared to Joe to make a deal. Laura was going where he couldn’t go and he was going where he wouldn’t want her to go. If Joe works for the angels, and dies a righteous death, he can go see Laura for five minutes. After that time he will be brought back to life and sent off on another mission. We learn this stuff as we go along. The issue is about Joe being hired by a girl to find her sister. She joined up with a Divine Will cult and hasn’t been seen or heard from again. Joe’s price for any case is ten grand (Get it? Get it? It’s in the title!). When Joe finds out who the leader of the Divine Will is, it will bring his past and the events that led to his new life come crashing down. Can Joe use his otherworldly connections to stop the trouble that’s sure to come?
JMS writes a fantastic introductory issue. The book will have an uphill fight with some. It’s going to get Constantine comparisons. Joe is a lot like a former mob hit-man version of Constantine with a dash of some other Heaven/Hell battle story familiarities sprinkled in. It’s a great story that does some things differently, so you can look at it as a great substitute for the cancelled Hellblazer series if that helps. Templesmith’s art is just as great. It’s a dark, gritty, painted world with some oftentimes grotesque characters. It works since we’re taken from back alleys to less than reputable night clubs. The colors for the otherworldly elements are superb.
Bottom Line: Ten Grand is a fantastic fusion of supernatural, crime noir/PI, and love stories that make for an excellent read. JMS has crafted a story that feels familiar yet goes off in a new direction. Templesmith’s art pulls off the story’s feeling of despair splendidly. If you were left wanting more stories like Hellblazer, this is definitely one for you. 4.5/5