It takes a skilled and exceptional mind to successfully master the style of decompression and flesh out a thoroughly satiating narrative in a single issue. It takes an artist of the same caliber to effectively bring that narrative to life with absolute clarity, vision and proficiency. In Joe’s Comics’ “Ten Grand” #4, J. Michael Straczynski and Ben Templesmith accomplish just that, give prominence to their seasoned artistry, and ultimately deliver an outstanding installment worthy of serious praise.
WRITTEN BY: J. Michael Straczynski
ART BY: Ben Templesmith
PUBLISHER: Joe’s Comics, imprint of Image Comics
RELEASE: August 7, 2013
Incorporating themes of supernatural-horror and demonology with an aiding core focus on love, loss, and revenge, both writer and artist take readers on an emotional and vivid adventure through realms of speculative fiction and mystical imagination.
Titled “A Hole in Heaven”, issue #4 begins with Joe Fitzgerald’s unsettling discovery regarding the whereabouts of his deceased lover, Laura. Dreaming that she is no longer safe in heaven but at the mercy of the demonologist who murdered her, Joe sets out on a tenacious quest for answers. Unfortunately, things are made difficult when the obscure higher power of which he serves fails to acknowledge his calls. On top of continuing his latest assignment concerning a cult named Divine Will, Joe realizes that he is dealing with a much larger mystery than he had originally imagined. Now, he must put his investigative skills to good use and find a way to get to the woman he loves, lest she be tortured in Hell for all of eternity.
There’s an underling theme of anxiety and responsibility that Straczynski builds up as the issue progresses and Templesmith’s art really serves that evolution. The pacing of the story, in both script and art, is vital in creating this extensive, thrilling, and critically engaging experience for the readers. The level of suspense, pressure, and frustration felt by the main protagonist would not have translated had the narrative not been designed to orchestrate a perfectly paced atmosphere. By writing a captivatingly in-depth expansion on the universe, through the inclusion of a new and interesting side-story that remains relevant to the grand narrative, Straczynski dramatically exposes the complicated world he is building. With eight more installments geared up in the first arc, it is only going to get more complex.
Even the framework for the series has a convoluted inception like structure. It is very much a love story within a crime noir mystery, inside a supernatural/occult tale created to explore the lengths to which an individual will go, for the person they love. The fourth installment highlights these aspects well with the interaction between humans and demons playing a heavier than usual role.
Templesmith’s illustrations of these monsters and their followers showcase an authentic representation of the type of world Joe is stuck living in. Bringing a dark and penetrating tone to the series, with a well-versed and distinguishable technique, he delivers a creative vision that falls outside the expected norm. From panel work to colour schemes, his artistic choices are not without reason, and ultimately guide the structure of the narrative more effectively.
Overall, “Ten Grand” #4 is a satisfying installment in terms of writing and art. It successfully manages to engage readers with each turn of the page and generates excitement for the next release.
Reviewed by – ShadowJayd