Ten Grand #8: Hellbound

Ten Grand #8

 

How much do you love your significant other? Enough to make a deal with angels to die and return? Enough to walk through the afterlife? Enough to walk through the gates of Hell? What about enough to help topple Heaven? These are the questions Joe Fitzgerald is facing in issue #8 of J. Michael Straczynski’s continuously impressive series Ten Grand. The end is coming quickly for Joe, and it does not look pretty.

Laura Fitzgerald is the linchpin to the entire story. Once a hitman, Joe sacrificed everything to be able to spend just a few moments with his beloved wife. Now, thanks to a man who was once a violent crusader, Laura has been trapped in Heaven. With no reason or understanding as to the plan behind her kidnapping, Joe has stepped into an ancient war and faced down everything the afterlife has thrown at him thus far. Now, having stepped into the actual gates of Hell, Joe is about to learn some surprising truths having to do with his life and the deal he struck.

What keeps Ten Grand so interesting is that Straczynski keeps the entire story connected through love. This is a violent story, one rife with murder, torture, and blood pouring from both our world and the next. Joe is hard man, a difficult tough guy with a penchant for using a gun too quickly. Still, with all of that involved, the main driving force is love. Not easy love, like most action films where the guy does what he does because “he loves her.” Straczynski makes the love between Laura and Joe very real, real enough that you believe he would go through this.

Issue #8 is all Hell. While mostly exposition, Straczynski keeps the events moving at brisk pace. I won’t lie, compared to the other seven issues, this feels like a train stop. Something for everyone reading to catch their breath, figure out exactly what’s going on, and then move forward to the finale. What is in store for Joe Fitzgerald seems unwinnable, but thus far Ten Grand has been full of surprises. Helping to tip the scales in a war for heaven is tough, especially once you find out heaven betrayed you.

CP Smith continues a strong streak with the art. Even the most talented comic artists tends to work in one medium, but Smith brings in multiple facets to tell his tale. Solid pencil work blends with fine art, watercolors and heavy inks. Blending all of them together, the world Joe Fitzgerald occupies is surreal and terrifying. Smith’s art allows Ten Grand to be unnerving, which really helps the story evolve into something beyond another comic book.

Ten Grand should be seen as a new industry standard. All those in the world of comic books need to study this story and the art behind it.

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(4.5 Story, 4.5 Art)