Ten Grand #1 Review

By: Rob Neil Gruszecki

            Longing arms stretched out towards a lost lover. As consciousness comes, so does the wretched realization of what can no longer be yours. Joe Fitzgerald has died for love and continues to haunt the barren streets in search of an early drink and a prospective client for his particular talents. At the cool price of Ten thousand Joe’s skill can be bought and your troubles could be over. All this done to get a few remaining minutes with those longing arms, the angel who reaches for him in his dreams.

Debbie, a pierced and tattooed punk, wanders into Lenny’s Bar around 3:30 with an envelope and a proposition for Joe. What she asks is both a tall order and a complete mystery in Joe’s world as the particular target of Debbie’s problem is one that should not be alive today. One that is responsible for Joe’s predicament to begin with. One with both feet deep in the horrific world of monsters and demons, the very world where Joe find’s his eternal soul resurrected and recycled over and over again. All for those outstretched arms. All for a moment with Laura.


The Joe’s Comic imprint responsible for Rising Stars and Midnight Nation is back to showcase more of J Michael Straczynski’s (Babylon Five, Spider-Man) writing as illustrated by a myriad of talented artists. This time around in its revival, Ten Grand kicks off the Image homed imprint with a PI Noir type story, laced with hellspawn and magic, illustrated by Ben Templesmith (30 Days of Night, Fell, Wormwood: Gentleman Corpse) who’s style is a perfect fit.


Straczynski plots Ten Grand with a clear and well realized world from the get go throwing you into a mystery already unraveling within the mind and waking life of Joe Fitzgerald, a disgruntled hitman for hire. Smoothly transitioning the audience with calculated precision and a passion for the tale being told. Joe is written with a very gruff and bitter tone reminiscent of the Hellblazer incarnation of John Constantine from Vertigo which is a welcome characterization and makes for an excellent blend of detective and ghost story with a broken hero as the lead. With generally lackluster hopes for the book initially as I have never found Straczynski’s work to be for my tastes, I can gladly say that I will for sure be on board for the rest of the series and that the writing in Ten Grand was a great representation of his talents.


Ben Templesmith has a very eerie and twisted sort of style which fits seamlessly into the world of Ten Grand. His characters burst with personality and their expressions are full of emotion. There is a surreal aura that hovers over the environment and Templesmith’s colouring work brings it to life in a bizarre way, combining swirls of smoke echoing in each panel, colour pallets shifting dramatically between scenes and darkness that paints each event in the first issue with a feeling of tensity, anxiety and terror. Monster designs and sick imagination makes the interiors of Ten Grand a huge success.


Of the several covers I was lucky enough to get Cover B by Bill Sienkiewicz which is a horrifically painted beauty. The main cover by Templesmith is another excellent version amongst others by Jae Lee and Ryan Sook.


The first issue of Ten Grand is a Noir/horror hybrid, blending together themes of eternity, resurrection, murder, demons, love and money, starting the latest  incarnation of Joe’s Comics very strongly. Definitely a first issue not to be missed.


Rob Neil Gruszecki is a writer, musician, podcaster and Wednesday Warrior

Dear Ghost Factory. What Should I Read? Comic Reviews & Weekly Comics Round-Up Podcast at www.Geekstampede.com

Music www.Ghostfactorymusic.com