Written by: J. Michael Straczynski
Art by: Ben Templesmith
Letters by: Troy Peteri
Publisher: Image Comics
Reviewed By: Julius Freeman

ISSUE SUMMARY: Joe Fitzgerald was a mob enforcer until the day he met Laura, who convinced him to leave that world behind. Before quitting, Joe agreed to one last job, little realizing that the man he’d been sent to kill was deeply involved in demonlogy. He survived Joe’s attempt and came after him, fatally wounding Joe and killing Laura. As he lay dying, an angelic force (who may or may not be what she appears) pointed out that where she is going, he can’t follow, and where he is going, he wouldn’t want her to follow. But if he will agree to work for them as a different kind of enforcer, they will bring him to life and keep on bringing him to life every time he is killed in a righteous cause. The reward: for those five minutes of death, he will be with Laura again. Would you endure an eternity of pain and death, dying over and over, to be with the woman you love for just five minutes each time you died? Most people might say no. But Joe Fitzgerald isn’t most people.

A bold new era begins with the long-anticipated return of Joe’s Comics, the imprint that brought you MIDNIGHT NATION and RISING STARS. All-new stories from J. MICHAEL STRACZYNSKI (Babylon 5, Jeremiah, Thor, Amazing Spider-Man, Superman: Earth One) return in 2013 with an action packed line up featuring everything from superhero action to supernatural thrillers. Watch this space as a new wave of exciting, challenging and experimental stories begins!

REVIEW: I have to admit something to you, dear readers of Geekality (if there are any).  I hated J. Michael Straczynsky’s DC and Marvel work.  I read the Superman walks America arc; crap.  I read Superman: Earth One; overrated.  I read Supreme; meh.  I picked up every mainstream work he’s produced over the years because…well, he’s J. Michael Straczynski, the man who wrote Rising Stars and Midnight Nation.  Need I also remind you that the opinions I share here concerning his DC and Marvel works are mine alone.  If you loved any of the books he wrote for DC and Marvel, cool.  Some people take pleasure in eating Papaya and some find it repulsive.  The same rule applies here.  I personally feel that his work at the big two were, by far, his weakest.

Saying that…

This book blew me out of the water and the faith I had lost on Straczynski’s work in previous years has been regained (See what happens when you allow your creative juices to once again flow?).  Here is this miserable loner, Joe Fitzgerald, who only has one good thing going for him; his work.  He’s visited by a young girl, Debbie, who is looking for her sister, Sarah, who is missing (Starts out in typical P.I. fashion, I know), after she had joined a cult called Divine Will.  She saved and collected money from family to help pay for Joe’s fee.  His fee, ten thousand dollars, is turned down, and returned, once he sees the picture of the man he needs to find, James.  What makes James a special case is that Joe shot a bullet to his head years ago.  Here is where the story goes from 10 to 11.

Ben Templesmith deserves praise for the work he’s done here.  His rough, thick lines, the ink wash, and color properly sets the mood, giving this book such a rich flavor you go back for seconds.  This is one of the many reasons why I love, and respect this medium.  Lastly, Straczynski writes a manifesto of sorts in the end of this issue.  Here’s an excerpt: “From the beginning, with the publication of Midnight Nation and Rising Stars, Joe’s Comics was created as a venue for experimentation and storytelling free from corporate agendas, crossover events and editorial edicts driven by quarterly profit-and-loss statements.  This isn’t about Creating IP.  It’s about telling good stories and working with the best artists and other talents the field has to offer.”

The big two have the best, BEST, talent in the industry, but countless stories involving superheroes saving the universe, the noverse, the multiverse, the nowhereverse, or whateververse in whatever crossover event they happen to be in, is becoming tiresome, expensive and, yes, boring.  I’m hungry for something fresh, real, raw, and Image Comics is feeding that to me.  Image has done the right thing by allowing writers and artists to shine, both well established and up and coming.  Ten Grand is yet another addition to a library of great works of art.