Former mob heavy, now supernatural P.I. currently between jobs (and lives), Joe Fitzgerald continues his mission, not just to find the killer of his latest late client, but also of his similarly deceased lady-friend, Laura. This, as one might expect in such matters, has led him to the gates of hell and into the camaraderie of a trapped angel named Jehoel. Issue seven (which also happens to enjoy its own brand of lateness) basically sees the two wax theological as they explore the history of the war between Heaven and Hell and do battle with those forces both good and evil that would stand in the way of their freedom and absolution, respectively.
Okay, so, full disclosure? I’m a bit of a mark for the Book of Revelations, not in a religious context, but just because the mythology behind a war between angels always gets my dander up in the most divine way. That’s why the bulk of this series, and especially this issue, appeals so much to me ... at least in theory.
The problem is that the new elements introduced into this story specifically don’t separate it sufficiently to present anything new to the old biblical mythos. I’m not saying this is holy writ verbatim, far from it, but nothing in Joe and Jehoel’s exposition-heavy, issue-spanning interaction adds much in the way of a fresh dialectic to the affair, which I believe is the whole point of tackling a story like this.
It basically toes the line that Angels had a war because half of them wanted free will and the other half were okay abiding by God’s. The latter half won and got Heaven, the former were relegated to hell, everybody goes home happy. That’s a story which has been done to death for ... well ... millennia if we’re honest! It’s not one I easily tire of, clearly, but do we need an entire issue to rehash it when this team should be focusing on getting back on track with its own unique main narrative?
It does feel like we’re getting there next issue, and I’m not accusing this one of being necessarily tangential, but I do think it could have been much more succinct. Still, we do get a couple pages of angels beating the dogshit out of each other, and I guess that’s always a good time.
C.P. Smith’s style continues to be something of a topic of debate to regular readers, and as far as sides, I remain firmly on that of the positive, especially given the otherworldly setting of the book at the moment. It’s almost hyper-naturally, digitally clean by comparison to Templesmith’s ink-bled art which launched the series, and I continue to hold that it works.
His figure work looks like the cut outs in a shadow puppet show, like at any moment, they could begin moving in that creepily clunky, almost robotic way. It’s expressive, but smooth instead of grooved; sure some of it looks like it spent far too long being cooked in photoshop, but the dynamism of his approach is one thing that can’t be argued. The only thing is, and thise is written at the unintended risk of calling for his undue dismissal, I think it’s time for a change in terms of the visual direction of this book.
I thought that Templesmith’s leaving, while unexpected and sudden, also felt organic with the way the story was going; one of those happy coincidences. And I think Smith has done a damn fine job of taking the ball, making it his and running with it. Now, though, I think Ten Grand is moving into its next phase, and with it, there needs to be yet another visual paradigm shift to mix things up again.
C.P. Smith is destined for great things in this business, and he’s clearly gotten a lot of exposure from his time here, and like I said, I’ve enjoyed it, but I think it’s time to move on for both book and man. Either way, that’s probably not going to happen, and it’s not like I’ll feel “stuck” somehow with his art - quite the contrary - I just hope he’ll inject something new into the issues that follow.
Ten Grand #7 was something of a slog for me, weighed down with time-worn religiosity and mythology and slowed with the purpose of same, but I continue to enjoy this series as a whole and am hopeful that next issue will set it back to course as we reach the end of this particular Highway to Hell.
Writer: J. Michael Stracynski Artist: C.P. Smith Publisher: Image/Joe’s Comics Price: $2.99 Release Date: 2/12/14