Written by J. Michael Stracynski
Drawn by Ben Templesmith
The first series of the re-launched ‘Joe’s Comics’ continues to excite and impress. This issue we get a look at our protagonist past as we see how Joe got to meet his dearly departed wife and what he used to do for a living. That is BEFORE he was killed by demonic forces and then resurrected by Angels as a divine enforcer.
Stracynski really excels in his creator owned work, this series, including this issue has been fantastic. He knows how to move the plot along and tease readers with just enough information to make them rabid for more. I really want to say that this is the best John Constantine comic being published today but I think that’s a disservice to the book and to the main character, Joe Fitzgerald. Yes, he fights supernatural forces and has a lot of the same traits as the DC anti-hero, but the creative team makes Joe his own character with his own motivations and point-of-view.
Fitzgerald continues his investigation into what we learn is now a double homicide in relation to the evil supernatural forces that he has a past with, the same ones who brutally killed him and his wife. We get flashes back to Joe and his soon-to-be wife Laura’s first meeting and their heartfelt and loving courtship. It helps you identify with both characters and their eventual fate packs a more emotional wallop because of it. We also learn that Joe was a button man, an enforcer for a local kingpin. Falling in love, Joe wished to leave that life behind and it was because of this, his boss set him up and had him take the ill fated job that led to their grisly fate.
The last few pages and subsequent cliffhanger really changes things going forward. From the first time we saw Joe visit his wife in the after-life I’ve been wondering if it was heaven or limbo or something where she was, but I never thought that her spirit was ever in danger. This issue changes that; the same evil forces that killed her the first time have now targeted Laura’s spirit.
I’ve gushed about Ben Templesmith’s art on this series in previous reviews and he keeps up the stunning work here. Finding an artist that really suits the tone of a book can make or break a series and he is perfect for this type of story. Everything from his pencils to paints exudes the right emotion and tone. For example, the last few pages that show Laura in the after-life, everything is a startling pristine white, which portray divinity in the scene. When demonic forces make their presence felt it’s with flashes of dark orange, reds and browns. It’s a shock to see and a really effective tonal change to see that grubby evilness infect such beauty.
This series continues to be a shining example of the quality of talent and product at Image Comics at the moment and is one of my favorite books. The end scenes, in particular, serve as a great twist and should be very, very interesting going forward. Can’t wait!
5 out of 5 nerds