J. Michael Straczynski and Ben Templesmith produce a series that’s a surprisingly natural amalgamation of the horror, occult, supernatural, and noir genres. Delivering another successful issue of “Ten Grand” for Joe’s Comics, critic speculations about the probability of a superior follow-up prove to be unwarranted.
WRITTEN BY: J. Michael Straczynski
ART BY: Ben Templesmith
PUBLISHER: Joe’s Comics, imprint of Image Comics
RELEASE: June 5, 2013
Titled “Angels Never Lie”, the second installment begins with a conveniently thorough rundown of last month’s series opener, featuring Templesmith’s accompanying panels from the previous issue. Just to shed some light on what’s already been established; Joe Fitzgerald is an ex-mob enforcer whose last assignment culminates in the death of his love, Laura. Desperate to see her again, he agrees to serve an obscure higher power that guarantees his resurrection upon righteous death. The catch? In those five minutes between death and resurrection, he’s able to reunite with the love of his life once again.
Now, Joe is a supernatural Private Investigator, taking on special cases ignored by the police force, for the price of ten grand. In this issue, he continues his investigation into the disappearance of Sarah Thomas, who’d lost contact with her sister Debbie after joining a cult named Divine Will. It’s a job which holds great significance for Joe as it involves the man responsible for Laura’s death; a man Joe killed two years prior.
Unlike issue #1, Straczynski moves the narrative along at a much slower pace, but still provides an exceptional amount of suspense and mystery through Joe’s stirring, and enlightening, inner monologues, and through the introduction of intriguing new characters. One of the more interesting additions to the book is a seer named Johnny, and an ally of Joe’s. He’s a man capable of seeing into the spirit world but blinded to everything else. Straczynski gifts readers with a short, yet compelling, look into his origins, and he’s definitely a character worth exploring in future installments.
Joe’s journey through this issue takes him to a demonic club where a grotesquely illustrated fleshist demon, courtesy of Templesmith, makes our protagonist second-guess his work with the angels. By the end of the issue, readers are left wondering whether Joe is working for the angels or for a more sinister bunch, given the interaction between two key characters in the last two pages.
Whether he’s dealing with celestial paragons and archangels, or demon lords and archdevils, that’s something Straczynski isn’t sharing yet. All that’s known is that there’s definitely a bigger story gearing up to be told, and Straczynski is doing a fantastic job setting it up.
Templesmith ups the ante the second time around with his visually emotive storytelling. Using a large colour palette that favours an almost frigid mixture of blues, purples, with hints of green – contrasting with his fiery explosions of reds and yellows – he’s able to draw out an array of emotions through images both grotesque and beautiful. His dusky style of art is made for a story as dark and gritty as Straczynski’s, and to imagine anyone else taking his place would almost be sacrilege.
“Ten Grand” #2 is a pleasure to read, and if there’s one book that needs to be on your pull list this year, it’s this one.
Reviewed by – ShadowJayd