Group Review: Ten Grand #1

This issue is kind of a big deal. It marks the return of Joe’s Comics and J. Michael Straczynski’s return to monthly comics, but without corporate interference. Several of us weighed in on it and gave it a score of: Buy, Borrow or Pass. Here’s the synopsis from Image and then the reviews!

From Image:  Joe Fitzgerald was a mob enforcer until the day he met Laura, who convinced him to leave that world behind. Before quitting, Joe agreed to one last job, little realizing that the man he'd been sent to kill was deeply involved in demonlogy. He survived Joe's attempt and came after him, fatally wounding Joe and killing Laura. As he lay dying, an angelic force (who may or may not be what she appears) pointed out that where she is going, he can't follow, and where he is going, he wouldn't want her to follow. But if he will agree to work for them as a different kind of enforcer, they will bring him to life and keep on bringing him to life every time he is killed in a righteous cause. The reward: for those five minutes of death, he will be with Laura again. Would you endure an eternity of pain and death, dying over and over, to be with the woman you love for just five minutes each time you died? Most people might say no. But Joe Fitzgerald isn't most people.

Dustin: Buy

I was genuinely surprised by this issue. At first it’s overly dramatic with the presentation of the main character and his business of taking cases that cops won’t. His exposition about why he asks for ten grand was not only pompous, but answers the question everyone was wondering about, “Why’s it called Ten Grand?” At the same time, it’s incredibly smart. Rather than answer the question over and over, JMS put it in a conversation in the first issue and with every following story arc he can remind/educate new readers.

The story is just a mixture of mobsters, angels and demons which is technically nothing new in comics. But when you take into account that this is JMS we’re talking about and that’s he’s unedited, it’s safe to say that this book is going to be good because he’s going to add the human condition to it. The main character Joe has to make up for all the bad he’s done, but in order to see his wife for five minutes he has to die a righteous death only to be brought back afterwards. It’s honestly heartbreaking regardless of how shitty Joe may have been in his past life.

My favorite scene was Joe’s meeting with the Angel. We learn that she holds all the power over him, but he rebels in his own little ways by making her take host in a stripper’s body. She screws with him, mentally and even a little physically and suddenly you don’t feel sorry that Joe put her in that situation because she’s an asshole. I was hesitant with this series since it was JMS’ big day out, but seeing is believing and I’m definitely a believer now.

Samantha: Borrow

I was totally into this comic, but I have to admit that this first issue really just summed up the previews. I already knew every detail before and after reading it. Don’t get me wrong this story is incredibly creative and I think it may end up being one of my new favorites. I look forward to the story expanding more and wish I hadn’t read so much about it before. It would have been more of a shocker. That is why I choose to borrow. But without even reading the second issue it will be a big fat buy.

Ben Templesmith’s art is so gorgeous to look at. Not a lot of detail which fits this story line perfect. You aren’t searching for hidden messages or noticing flying birds in the background. It is all about the characters; especially the focus on Joe and his choices in life.

I am wondering what a “glorious death” means…? and obviously if Joe follows through with his word. The connection he has with Laura is sweet and in my twisted sick mind I like to reverse situations and ask if she would choose the same thing. It could be a cool illusion for the Devil to implant in Joe.  I think asking a lot of questions while reading is what separates an average comic and an insanely intense comic. The more we talk or think about an issue the more we will go back to it. The second issue should offer some great questions for its readers and open the relationship with Joe and the Devil to new heights.

Carl: Pass

Constantine rip-off. 1/5 for the art, which was interesting.

Steve: Buy

Little piece of advice for mobsters, police officers, hitmen, et al. Never say anything like, “I’ll stop ... right after this next job.” Just don’t fucking say it! It always winds up in tears, and that’s precisely what happens in Straczynski and Templesmith’s Ten Grand.

Even though I do feel like we’ve been here before, with comparisons to Constantine most likely unavoidable thanks to its “arcane detective” feel, I enjoyed the hell out of this book. Straczynski does a pretty damn good job of meshing together elements from The Crow, Hellblazer and Lovecraft into a brooding little package. It may feel fairly routine so far, but I have to admit I’m a sucker for this stuff and am on-board with this story.

If you like Templesmith’s art (which you should), then you too are gonna have a good time with this book. His sketchy style fits perfectly into this story, going together with it like grime under fingernails. I love how he always drapes his pages and panels in a veil of haze - it makes the effect when a bright light (say, from angel wings or a magic bullet) pierces it all the more visually impressive: truly gorgeous stuff.

I’ve been looking forward to Ten Grand for a while now, and it didn’t disappoint; although, I can imagine some readers being miffed that this story feels like too much of an amalgam of others. Still, it’s worth your money, if for nothing else than the art.

Jordan: Borrow

Ten Grand #1 is a cool book that I feel like I’ve seen before; it has darkness of plot, edgy, sketchy art and a down on his luck chain-smoking badass. But that doesn’t mean it’s not enjoyable, quite the opposite actually. Ten grand will inevitable draw comparisons to titles like Hellblazer and characters in them like Hellboy and John Constantine, and that will be completely warranted. This is a paranormal detective story that relies on the always likable anti-hero archetype but the thing is, it does it well.

Joe Fitzgerald`s world of demons and angel is just well realized and unique enough to set it out from the others. Things like summoning an angel into the body of a stripper or scaring a bunch of hipsters half to death by inadvertently summoning an evil entity into a latte joint by googling with the angel alphabet are cool and clever. Also the set up for the villain and central villain is intriguing. I’ll be giving this one a second shot.

Sergio: Buy

What does it mean to die a "righteous" death? Would you be willing to die over and over again and spend what time you're not dying as miserable as can be just for five more minutes with the love of your life? Well if you're uncertain about making that commitment then I suggest you pick up J. Michael Straczynski's highly anticipated new title from Image Comics, Ten Grand.

I got married a little over a year ago so Ten Grand tugged on the heart strings a little. Being murdered by a demonologist, if that's what you can call him, and being given a deal that each time you die for a noble reason you can spend five more minutes with the person you love is highly unlikely but if there is someone special in your life it metaphorically puts things into a weird perspective. The relationship between Joe and Laura is a little cliché, guy leads rough life, meets beautiful girl who changes his life and asks him to walk away from it all, guy agrees but has to take one last job, during said job guy gets girl killed and is left to deal with the pain forever.

Don't let that sway your opinion from the book because it’s so much deeper than what I just described. Joe has made a deal with a stripper, I mean angel, and now every time he dies what she describes as a righteous death he can spend five more minutes with Laura, the catch? He has to experience each excruciating death and will continue to do so until they feel he has done enough good to make up for all the bad. Without diving too deep into the story let me point out that this love story turns into a revenge story about half way through this issue and really opens up the story which will make you want the second issue right away.

Ben Templesmith's art took a little getting used to initially but once the story opened up and you realize that it's about a guy who lives a miserable life and has been murdered by demonologist then the art is a perfect match. Plenty of dark undertones with images that can be best described as high definition sketches create a creepy, dark world that is Joe Fitzgerald's life.

Well everyone had a little bit of everything to say about it, so you might just have to go with what strikes you the most.

Writer: J. Michael Straczynski

Artist: Ben Templesmith

Publisher: Joe’s Comics and Image Comics

Price: $2.99

Release Date: 5/1/13