Joe Fitzgerald will take on any job for $10,000. As a former mob enforcer he’s seen his share of the ugliness of the world and is no stranger to the weird or supernatural. But when a young girl brings him a new job and a suspicious photograph, Joe agrees to take the job for free for “personal reasons.” In a case steeped in demonology and the unknown, Joe must find the missing girl and finish a job he swore an oath to complete – avenging and seeing his dead wife Laura again.
Ten Grand is a mixture of crime noir, the supernatural, and the underworld (two meanings here) that delivers for fans of the genres. J. Michael Straczynski and Ben Templesmith work together to give a mood that feels like a split between Hellblazer and old pulp detective novels.
Joe is one of those characters that you want to follow around instantly. Straczynski knows his way around a comic book page and his character building with Mr. Fitzgerald really shows it. We get inside glimpses of how Joe things, what motivates him, and the types of places he frequents.
There’s a particular scene with an offer for a sexual act that really shows what kind of a man Joe is, but I won’t spoil the outcome for you. It’s something that you just have to read in order to do the little mental fist pump that comes with that kind of a character moment.
The artwork really sets the mood for this supernatural tale. It’s grim, rough, and has that earthy feel that makes you believe that it’s a true mixture between noir and demonic stories. Joe and his world are brought to life by Templesmith’s style, and the character’s rough edges come through the panels with each expression and action he takes on the page.
What Pops in “Ten Grand”
What really works in Ten Grand is the matter-of-fact way that the magic and supernatural elements are dealt with. Many urban fantasy or magic titles will try to make elements too grandiose at the start or push that “things are not what they seem” onto the reader. Joe’s level and knowledge of magic and the afterlife is street smart and patchwork, which fits the gritty artwork and the character’s voice.
There’s a great moment with the internet that shows just how integrated the other world is with ours, but again, I want you to read it for yourself to see.
Give It a Try
This isn’t a groundbreaking new concept, but it is an example of how to do a cross-genre story well. The characters are engaging, the stakes are high, and each page leaves you wanting more. This is the kind of comic I reach for when I go for the stands, so it might have really been written directly to my type of audience, but this is an opinion column after all. My opinion? Go find the first issue in print or digitally and soak it up until the next issue drops!