“TEN GRAND” #1 (Comic Review)
In the wide world of comics, Noir and Horror have sat down to drink more often than one would think. From John Constanine’s globe-trotting, mystical escapades to Cal McDonald’s ghoulish case files, paranormal mystery men have become a staple of the medium as much as superheroes and tragic origins. With the recent launch of TEN GRAND, we are once again reminded why the world seems endlessly fascinated with a dimly lit bar and a sob story. A work mixing striking visuals and strong writing, it joins Image Comics’ recent fascination for bizarre crime stories, most notably, CHIN MUSIC written by Steve Niles and FATALE from Ed Brubaker. Though it has yet to be seen if it will pick up as much steam as its predecessors, it can be safely assumed TEN GRAND might stick around for the long run.
The story starts in a typical, Chandler-esque manner. A hard-eye dick with a seen-it-all attitude begins his first person tale about a love loss in a grimy, depressing city full of even grimier and depressed people. As he enters his local bar-slash-office, a young lady shyly enters looking for him, with eyes as wide as a deer in the headlights. We realize that it’s not your standard case, but something very specific to our detective, simply known as Joe. The girl asks Joe to find her sister who had gone missing after joining a spiritual cult known as The Diving Will and shows him the leader. Upon seeing the drawing, Joe realizes that something much more sinister is afoot, considering he himself had killed the pictured man two years prior. It is here that the tale starts bouncing back and forth between Joe’s present and Joe’s past, one filled with demons, angels, and heartbreak. As he makes his way through the back alleys of magic and the city, more and more is revealed about the strange and divine path he had chosen for himself.
TEN GRAND leaves you immersed in not only the written story, but the untold words of the accompanying art as well. Fan favorite Ben Templesmith provides his iconic designs, mixing heavy inks with delicate pen work and making each image literally drip off the page. Writer J. Michael Straczynski is an old hand on this circuit as well, and though he is better known as the creator of BABYLON 5, he’s also lauded for work on RISING STARS, THOR and a six year run on THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN. This combo has created an astounding new comic that touches on a bit of everything, from love to death to monsters of both man and creation. While it harks back to the old detectives stories, it also manages to stay relevant, deftly mixing strippers and mohawks with fine whiskey and cigars.