I'll confess, other than having beautiful artwork, the series is baffling to me. I bet if you read it all in one sitting it makes sense. But it's not great when serializing it. As always … titles are scored on a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being the very best possible. We take the time to read these books so your time isn't wasted.
Jupiter's Legacy - Issue 1
A great deal of attention has been given to this series but it has nothing to do with the content. Instead, it's all about the container. Somewhere along the way, Millar decided that he would only release the comic (day and date) as a floppy in comic book stores and that a digital version would not be available for at least three months. This is an interesting position to take.
In some respects, this is a noble endeavor as it is being presented as a fight to help traditional comic book stores which, surely, must be losing some business to digital sites like ComiXology. The evidence isn't conclusive, thus far, but retailer responses seem varied. And, as witnessed with a recent Marvel promotion, the delivery method of digital comics isn't completely disaster proof.
Millar is coming from a position of strength as he is a well established creator. And his artistic partner, Frank Quitely, is a fan favorite. This means that readers will be more inclined to buy from stores if that's the only option available to him. There are symmetries running rampant here. You have a generational and core belief divide occurring both in real life as well within the comic.
The non-spoilery details involve a golden age group of socialites looking for magic in a world on the brink of collapse. Flash forward several generations later and their children suffer under their godlike expectations. How can Generation X/Y ever surpass The Greatest Generation when there is nothing left to conquer? What does it mean to be a hero when there are no villains left?
The story is very topical, and very cynical, as it focuses on working class rage directed at the corporate elite and corrupt as well as the destruction of the American dream. It's not all that subtle in how it accomplishes this but it deserves respect for trying something sadly missing in more mainstream comics.
And then, there is Frank Quitely's artwork. A whole review can be done on that. His artwork isn't just amongst the best of this era but, possibly, of all-time in comic books. His style and skill is evocative of some of the greats that appeared in Heavy Metal at its zenith. To say it's wonderful is doing it a disservice. It's phenomenal and beyond. The cover is just as beautiful, but even more so haunting than the interior.
Score: 9.5 out of 10
Ten Grand - Issue 1
Full disclosure, the author of these reviews is a big fan of the writer of Ten Grand. J. Michael Straczynski was the creator of one of the best science fiction stories of all time ... Babylon 5. An over-looked gem during the time that Star Trek dominated the air-waves, B5 was easily the best written and most ambitious television show ever aired. Since it's shuffled off, he's done other television like Showtime's Jeremiah. In the late 90s, his other writing career exploded in comic books. Not just with the majors but with his imprint Joe's Comics. This included Rising Stars and Midnight Nation.
Another entry under that banner is this new series about a fixer named Joe. He's the classic noir protagonist who's sarcasm bursts from the very first page. All snarl and shadows and bad habits, yet far more vulnerable than he'd ever care to admit. A character that thinks he escaped his past, only to have it thrown in his face by his surprisingly clear speaking client. A client who offers him a case to help her sister for a cool ten grand.
It seems to be moving in a predictable manner and then suddenly all hell breaks loose. As does heaven. In a short time, Straczynski manages to convey consequences and emotion and humanity, in a genre that rarely stops to consider any of those things. And this story handles that well. And it doesn't just read well but it looks fantastic. Ben Templesmith's interior illustrations are simple, yet highly complex creating a feeling of dread. And the cover is gorgeous. It's filled with depth and meaning. Just an awesome piece of art.
Score: 9.5 out of 10
East Of West - Issue 2
Civics lessons in a comic book. Who would have thought that when you cracked open the pages of this dark,violent, and bizarre comic book you'd learn all about the path of presidential succession? Sure, it's probably not because Death (of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse) is the one killing each person in line until he gets to the person he actually wants to be president. That would just be crazy or silly.
This is a very angry sci fi story that's imaginative and inventive in alternate history. The problem is that there are no clear motives and none of the characters come across as sympathetic so it's hard to cheer an outcome. The interior artwork is very unusual. It's very non-traditional. The cover is sort of interesting and weird. It's got some very cool design in it. The color choices are atypical and that causes it to pop The sub-heading is just great.
Score: 8 out of 10
I have one thing to say to Image Comics this week. Bravo. This is one the best weeks we've had since writing this column. Excellent, excellent work from a brave publisher of interesting comics. Run, don't walk ... driving would probably be faster if you have a car. Regardless, buy all three of these from your local comic store (cause only two can be bought online.) Stop back next week for more New Release Reviews for Image Comics/