Publish date: July 3, 2013 Publisher: Image Comics, Joe Comics
Ten Grand has recently been one of the most talked-about new titles in comics, and for good reason. This new supernatural mystery series by J. Michael Straczynski marks the return of the Joe’s Comics imprint in association with Image Comics. Ten Grand attempts to make a name for itself among the occult crime-noir greats like John Constantine, and has so far done a pretty decent job. Issues #1 and #2 firmly laid down the story’s foundation by establishing our protagonist, Joe Fitzgerald, an ex-mob enforcer turned occult detective, as well as the gritty and demonic worlds that engulf him.
Previously, Joe’s services had been sought after by a wayward woman named Debbie who needed Joe to find her recently missing sister, Sarah. Debbie’s sister had become caught up with an occult group known as the Divine Will, which, to Joe’s horror, is led by a man known as Brother James. Not only is this Brother James the man responsible for killing Joe’s wife, Laura, but he was also apparently killed by Joe two years before the events of this series.
Ten Grand #2 left off with an unseen twist and enormous cliffhanger that confirmed the significance of this series for me. Debbie’s untimely death has led our protagonist to the morgue in issue #3. Despite an apparent dead end, Joe’s determination leads him to discover that Sarah, the girl he had been looking for all along, has been dead and residing at the morgue for three weeks. Setting his emotions aside, Joe uses his particular know-how to briefly communicate with fragments of Sarah’s soul that have been left behind. His attempts to do the same with Debbie’s soul prove unfruitful aside from reaffirming Joe’s determination to exact revenge on those responsible for Sarah’s death.
This is where the story takes a much needed breather and decides, rather, to fill in some vital missing gaps in the story. We’re taken to an apparent flashbackin which Joe first meets Laura. These scenes are important in stimulating Joe and Laura’s otherwise flat relationship. Throughout the series, scenes in which Joe has seen his wife or reminisced about her have often proven a bit weak. Although it’s obvious that the thought of Laura managed to turn tough-old Joe into a big softy, having no substance behind such a radical transition was becoming hard to chew. In the latter half of this issue, we also receive some insight into what ignited the series of events that would result in the destruction of Joe’s world. The whole sequence honestly becomes quite moving before inevitably reverting back to being incredibly depressing.
The writing in Ten Grand has been pretty solid despite the occasionally weakly-written romantic attempt. This trend continues in issue #3, although I do feel like the interactions and dialogue between Joe and Laura have stepped up a bit. Unavoidably, Joe is just a hopeless romantic who could really learn a lot from “Han Solo’s Guide to Being Awesome While In Love.” Despite this minor setback, the story is carrying along well and proves to be more and more addicting with each new issue.
Ben Templesmith’s gritty illustrations are often spectacular, and set a truly dark and disturbing mood that walks hand in hand with the events of the story. In many scenes, his blend of frayed lines and his luminous watercolor palette are distinctively rewarding. My only cause for concern is that occasionally these elements counteract to create an image that can be too difficult to discern and possibly throw off the pace of the reading.
Overall, Ten Grand continues to exceed my expectations, despite the occasional hiccup. Ten Grand may not be for everyone in that it is made for a mature audience and produces a steady flow of disturbing content, but anyone intrigued by the supernatural needs to at least check it out. The story in Ten Grand is strong, and I doubt many people will be able to only pick up one issue.
Most people call me JJ. I'm 23 and currently working as a freelance web-designer as I finish up my Bachelor's Degree in Computing in the Arts. You can check out my portfolio at www.JJtheGreat.com if you'd like.
I'm also an ambitious comic book aficionado and zealous movie buff. I secretly hope that if I ever get bitten by a spider that I'll turn into Spider-Man. I also enjoy LEGOS, there you go.
Summary:GOOD: The third installment of Ten Grand, Joe's Comics first creator-owned series in years, proves to be the best of the series so far while adding some much needed depth to our protagonist, Joe.
Author:J. Michael Straczynski, Ben Templesmith
Publisher:Image Comics, Joe Comics
Published:July 3, 2013