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Ten Grand #1 - Blood Oath Review

5

A man walks into a seedy diner. A lot of pulp stories start that way, but this isn't your usual pulp story.

The Good

J Michael Straczynski's "Joe's Comics" imprint is back, now under the Image banner, and TEN GRAND is a hell of a start. J Michael Straczynski and Ben Templesmith open up this new series with a world that melds crime drama with the supernatural, in the kind of way that holy water might be used to solve a firewall breakthrough. It's gritty, it's immediately emotional, and it's loaded with story potential.

Packed into the first issue is a solid pulp opening (can you get more pulp than a lone man walking into a seedy diner after dreaming of his mysterious lost love?), introductions to a swath of characters, hints at a painful origin story, and an ending that is really the beginning of much more.

Our hero -- or antihero, I suppose -- Joe Fitzgerald is, like all of the best pulp protagonists, riddled with emotional baggage stemming from what was supposed to be his last job ever. He's also extraordinarily savvy and smart in ways that surpass the human experience, and there's a charm about the way he comfortably drops demonology jargon like 'mancy while deriding like. He has a complex moral code that we're just seeing the beginning of. And he's dead, which makes him immediately fascinating.

Templesmith's moody, visceral art is pitch-perfect for JMS's pulp-meets-occult story. Ben Templesmith can draw the hell out of a firefight, and he can make a stripper look like an angel -- and he does. His pages are lush and textured, and the painting -- especially in the cool, watercolor panels of Joe and Laura in days past -- makes things seem more tangible, even as the story verges on the supernatural.

The note from "Joe's Counter" at the end of the book announces that this series, and the rest from the imprint, will be told until the story arc is done, then rest until there's a new story worth telling. While this will surely be agonizing for certain collectors, it's refreshing to know that JMS doesn't intend to keep the series alive any longer than it remains interesting.

The Bad

This might be a sleeper hit. I've heard very little about the series, and if it weren't for my tendency to read at least the first few issues of everything Image is putting out lately, I would have missed it.

The Verdict

Ten Grand is one of those stories that hasn't been excessively hyped, so it might slip under your radar for the first issue. Don't let it. Joe (the Joe in the story, not to be confused with the author or the name of the imprint itself) is a complex and fascinating antihero, and the series calls to mind Constantine and Dante and every great revenge story I've ever encountered. TEN GRAND is mysterious and familiar at the same time, and the beautifully painted pages charge the narrative with emotion. I'm anxious to see where the story takes us, and curious how many times Joe will die before he reaches the end of his path -- and whether he'll get to truly be with Laura again.

21 Comments
Posted by JamesKM716

Awesome; I read another review that wasn't as happy about it.

Posted by Jonny_Anonymous

I'm glad this is good, I'd read anything Templesmith draws

@missj great review

Posted by longbowhunter

I too try to give a lot of Image books a go. If it wasn't for Chin Music coming out next week and having a similar plot I would totally grab this. Good review.

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Posted by Mercy_

Packed into the first issue is a solid pulp opening (can you get more pulp than a lone man walking into a seedy diner after dreaming of his mysterious lost love?), introductions to a swath of characters, hints at a painful origin story, and an ending that is really the beginning of much more.

Wasn't planning on picking this up...but this alone sells me on it. I'll grab a copy next week.

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Posted by sora_thekey

Curious...

Posted by akbogert

This was a really great review. Not my cup of tea, content-wise, but if I could be sold on the book, this would have done it.

Posted by MadeinBangladesh

Def have to check this out.

Posted by mcbean

Awesome comic

Posted by K3vinkha0S

Cant wait to read!

Edited by ghostcopy

Picked this up today and took it to my local cafe to read, was blown away by how immersive the book is and to say I am hooked is under selling it, so how surprised was I when I got to the back of the book and found a QR code for an audio performance!! I immediately ordered another coffee and sat back for another trip through JMS and Templesmith's offering. Wow adds a totally new dimension! Bring on the next issue.

Edited by DonFelipe

This might be a sleeper hit. I've heard very little about the series, and if it weren't for my tendency to read at least the first few issues of everything Image is putting out lately, I would have missed it.

This! ...and everything Valiant is putting out, too.

Another great review.

Edited by spinningbirdcake

It's a good one. Templesmith makes his sketchy style look like it's not just a draft of the art but the final product. Reminds me of Constantine which I'm sure plenty of people have already said. And I like the letter at the end where JMS says something along the lines of "We'll finish an arc, stop and decide if another one needs to be written, if not we're done." Gives me some hope they're going to finish this one off before it gets drawn out.

Edited by dscythe

It's a good one. Templesmith makes his sketchy style look like it's not just a draft of the art but the final product. Reminds me of Constantine which I'm sure plenty of people have already said. And I like the letter at the end where JMS says something along the lines of "We'll finish an arc, stop and decide if another one needs to be written, if not we're done." Gives me some hope they're going to finish this one off before it gets drawn out.

Believe it or not the art style actually reminds me of Penny Arcade comics in some panels, but with a much grittier look to them. I thought i was going to hate the art after seeing the preview and I ended up loving it!

Posted by spinningbirdcake

@dscythe: I can definitely see that with the somewhat exaggerated angles on the characters.

Posted by Fenderxx

I just bought it today, and loved it, however does it remind anyone else of Constantine?

Posted by longbowhunter

Went to FCBD today and picked this up while I was there. Great first issue. Definitely coming back next month. This review went a long way towards getting me to buy this.

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Posted by SavageDragon

This was interesting.

Posted by _Marc_74

Ahhh another one to get me hooked on. Comic noob with 5 a month habit

Posted by ZoddGuts

This was a pretty good first issue.

Posted by GCan47

Unfortunately, I can't agree with this review. The story was ok but I felt like I read it before. The real problem was this so called "art". It's vomitous at best. Last thing I ever buy with this Templesmith guy's name on it. I've always considered the likes of McFarlane, Capullo, and Jim Lee as art, but what do I know? Just my opinion.