In Ten Grand #2, grit, gore, and a dark dash of occult mystery seep from the pores of every hard-boiled panel.
The daunting task of living up to the promise of a successful first issue has been handled with page-turning aplomb by veteran creators J. Michael Straczynski and Ben Templesmith.
What wouldn’t you do for the love of your life? A righteous death in exchange for five minutes with his beloved Laura is bargain enough for former mob enforcer Joe Fitzgerald. Taking immortality to new and scary places, Straczynski and Templesmith use those five minutes to rip away your sense of emotional stability as the hope and faith of those rare tender moments are made haunting and every bit as disturbing as the explosive action that follows Fitzgerald wherever he goes.
Templesmith’s vivid world of angels and demons is a living combination of fire (reds and yellows) and ice (blues and purples) that renders the world we see a cold place and the other plane that Joe sees as endlessly combustible. What does it say when the same color palette is used to depict death, fire, and angels? Probably that Joe Fitzgerald is in for a rough ride in the issues to come.
Straczynski and Templesmith are on top of their storytelling game. And don’t bypass Joe’s running narrative to get to the dialogue. Straczynski builds a sinister alternative world with it. Throughout the narrative, we feel Joe’s growing discomfort with his angelic bargain and understand the chilling possibility that the bad guys may be the actual voices of truth here. The narrative also slows the story’s pace to the point where you appreciate the subtle details of Templesmith’s line work and shading that propel the plot all on their own.
Only two issues in, now is the time to jump on the Ten Grand bandwagon if you haven’t.
J.M. Straczynski (W), Ben Templesmith (A) • Image Comics/Joe’s Comics, $2.99, June 5, 2013.