Written by J. Michael Straczynski
Art by Ben Templesmith
Ten Grand is the start of a new creator owned series by writer J. Michael Straczynski and artist Ben Templesmith. The series will be published through Image Comic’s imprint, ‘Joe’s Comics’ which had been abandoned back in the mid 2000s after long delays on titles. It seems from this series and further planned books that the previously defunct imprint has been revitalized.
The book follows Joe Fitzgerald, a former hit-man of sorts now taking on P.I. cases for anyone with ten thousand dollars, hence the title of the comic. This first issue we are introduced to Joe who is like a composite Richard Fell from the comic ‘Fell’ (also drawn by Templesmith) and John Constantine as we learn when the first issue is done…
After Joe meets with a young girl who wants him to look into the disappearance of her sister and involvement with a local religious group and its leader, we begin to peel back some of the layers of our protagonist’s story. In flashbacks we are shown that he botched a hit on a target (who we see is also the supposed leader of the religious group in question) that happened to be a summoner of demons. This led to the slaughter of both Joe and his beloved wife. Being a man with a lurid past Joe was going straight to hell except he is offered a deal by an angel. Joe becomes an enforcer for the angels against demon-kind and in return, any time Joe dies a righteous death he will be resurrected but in the 5 minutes he is dead he will get to be with his wife again.
It was concepts like this that really drew me into this book and really made me enjoy it. I’ve always been hit and miss with JMS, gravitating more to his creator owned stuff like Midnight Nation and Rising Stars more so than his Marvel or DC work. This was a real return to form for the writer with an intriguing premise and great dialogue and I’m eager to see the rest of his planned story.
Ben Templesmith is the perfect fit for the book as well. With a book such as this and the premise behind it, you need an artist who draws mood and tension exquisitely and Templesmith does it in spades. Every page drips with it and really made me yearn for more. I really dug his work on the aforementioned ‘Fell’ so I’m very glad he is back on a monthly book at Image. His style is all his own and there isn’t an artist like him working in comics today.
Anybody who has taken umbrage with DC comics’ watered down version of John Constantine should take note of Ten Grand. This is how supernatural noir in comics should be done. I really loved this first issue and I think if it continues on with the strength of this debut it will be another gem in Image Comic’s vast array of jewels at the moment.
5 out of 5 nerds