In Review: Ten Grand #4

The covers: Cover A shows protagonist Joe reaching for Laura; he from our plane, she from Hell. I could go into how wonderfully horrific this is, but instead look at the faces of the two leads. The emotion is so passionate in their desire for physical contact, that’s what sticks in my mind. There is also a Cover B, it being a San Diego Comic-Con exclusive. Joe is in the foreground looking as moody as all get out, but behind him–how can you ignore?–the screaming image of spirit Julie, who looks ready to devour him. Will she? Get the book and find out! Book covers expertly done by the fantastic interior artist Ben Templesmith. Overall grades: Both A+

The story: Joe wakes up screaming Laura’s name after dreaming that she’s calling him for help, but he knows better. It was no dream. Concerned about his lost love, he writes an angel’s seal on a receipt to summon the entity, so that it may possess a waitress and he can talk with it. The angel doesn’t appear. He tries it three more times with the same result. Now he’s concerned. If the angel isn’t appearing something is really wrong. He needs to know what’s going on, so he reluctantly goes to a building that burned down ten years ago. A scorned woman committed suicide there and unintentionally burned the place to the ground. The woman’s family calmed her spirit by hiring Joe years ago. However, Julie is still there, in a fashion. What happens next you’ll have to discover for yourself, though I want to give some praise without spoiling things: the bottom of Page 7, I was not expecting that; Page 9, the last bit of dialogue is great because it shows what Joe will say to achieve his goal; Page 13, I could predict this won’t go well; Page 17′s final panel, I knew exactly what that would be and was giddy at what was to occur on Page 18 (and it did!); the dialogue at the bottom of 18 couldn’t be anything else but that!; Page 21, I know the Garden State’s got a bad rap, but, wow–who knew? If you thought this book had moments of light in the darkness, the final page tease it’s about to get darker. Writer J. Michael Straczynski continues his tale of hope in the bleakest, hidden places magnificently! Overall grade: A+

The art: I’m loving that Ben Templesmith’s art is giving me new versions of classic horror tropes; for example, ghosts. They’re usually floating sheets or faded humans. Not so for Templesmith. They’re outlines in blinding light and they look amazing. Julie is a visual definition of otherworldliness. She’s also not the cliché wailer…she’s something else entirely. Page 9 is my favorite of this issue. Both characters on that page are mirror images of one another. Page 12 is a nicely done sequence that turns appropriately ugly to match the antagonists. I should also say I was so happy to have Joe’s head blocking something on Page 17, panel four, because that’s something horrific I really did not want to se. I’m so looking forward to what Templesmith has in store for next issue with an expanded look for this new setting. Overall grade: A+

The letters: The dialogue, wails, narration, and screams are perfectly rendered. Troy Peteri is an angel chronicling a man on the edges of Hell. Overall grade: A+

The final line: This continues to be one of the best books out there. Joe Fitzgerald is the perfect damned hero on a quest. His journey has now begun in earnest. Highest possible recommendation. Overall grade: A+


Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer’s Guide for a few years with “It’s Bound to Happen!” He had to give that up to teach 8th graders English for 19 years, and only recently has been transferred from teaching 9th graders English to 10th graders English. So he either did a really good job or really bad job last year. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars or Indiana Jones items online.

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