Review: ‘Ten Grand’ #7

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“Ten Grand” #7 is a mind-blowing read as the creative team kick the writing and artwork up a notch this month. This is an interesting take on Dante’s “Divine Comedy” and the levels of Hell. This “Ten Grand” issue works for fans of the series and is a great jumping on point for newcomers.

WRITTEN BY: J. Michael Straczynski
ART BY: C.P. Smith
PUBLISHER: Image Comics
PRICE: $3.99
RELEASE: Feb. 12, 2014

Joe Fitzgerald, a former mob enforcer, died a horrible death just before making a promise to his lost love, Laura. Heaven will give Joe five minutes to spare with Laura if he dies a righteous death. Forced to do good, Joe rigs his heavenly assignments just to have that perfect moment with Laura. But when Joe discovers he has been lied to and that Laura is not in Heaven, he crosses over into an afterlife nightmare. Joined by a fallen angel named Jehoel, they search the never-ending landscape for the Gates of Hell.

Writer J. Michael Straczynski narrates a compelling tale about redemption with a mix of supernatural elements. Straczynski explores the back-stories of Joe and Jehoel, examining how two lost souls paid the price for their mistakes. Moving away from the crime drama, Straczynski is also putting Joe on a new mission of self-discovery. The narrative foreshadows that self-sacrifices will have be made in the eternal battle between good and evil. Is Joe able to make that kind of forfeit in order to save Laura?

Straczynski is able to do two things at once with this storyline. While focusing on the otherworldly battle between angels and demons, Straczynski is also able to develop the character growth of his main protagonist. As an anti-hero, Joe is someone who thinks only for himself, but now every decision he makes comes from his emotions for Laura. Joe tears his way through Heaven just to be by Laura’s side in Hell.

Artists C.P. Smith illustrates a surreal look to the dreamy landscape of Heaven and Hell. To me, each panel feels digitalized with watercolor effects. The backgrounds are vague in shapes and awash in primary colors. In a splash page, Smith captures an eye-popping image of an angelic baby floating upside down. Smith heightens the golden aspect of the halo and uses white tones for the small wings.
In a creative layout, Smith illustrates three connecting panels to portray the battle between Heaven and Hell. In the first panel, the white shades are crystallized to give a cosmic effect. Notice how the angels stand around like soldiers in a battlefield. The background in the second panel is painted in red as the angels go to war. Readers just see the silhouettes of the angels in the second and third panel.

With such unforgettable imagery, “Ten Grand” #7 takes the series to a whole new level. I look forward to seeing what direction Straczynski and Smith take in the next issue as Joe arrives in Hell.

Rating: 4.5/5 skulls

Reviewed by – Jorge Solis