It’s been about 3 months since a new issue of Ten Grand hit the shelves, which is largely in part due to Ben Templesmith’s departure from the title’s interior art. Apparently, Templesmith had too much on his plate in overall artwork duties so he had to let Ten Grand slip to the back burner, which is understandable, but also really disappointing.
Templesmith’s art fit this book like a glove. He was able to capture the dark, desolate tone of the book, while still allowing for bright colors to shine through when needed. His style depicted the battle of darkness and light on every page, encapsulating the struggle Joe faces in his day to day life. C.P Smith is now taking over art duties for the title, and while it’s not bad artwork in the slightest, it’s still not on par with Templesmith’s when it comes to this specific title. It feels much like Templesmith’s, but much less fluid and contrasting. Everything feels a little more muddled together, lacking the distinct surreal and liquid style Templesmith is known for. Had C.P. Smith been on the book from the beginning it wouldn’t be something so noticeable, but it’s a far cry different from the past four issues.
Straczynski is still writing a quality book here though, regardless of the art change. Joe’s story is interesting and this issue displays just how dangerous Joe’s trip through Purgatory is. Many of Joe’s encounters make you wonder how many different ways his story can come to an end, and what exactly awaits him throughout that journey. Straczynski provides plenty of foreshadowing here, but all shrouded in mystery leaving multiple supposed fates for the protagonist. The ride with the Reaper over the river was an especially enjoyable scene in this issue, providing darkness, humor, and the foreshadowing spoken of earlier. The cliffhanger is great and Straczynski will have me back again next month waiting for another chapter.
Overall, Ten Grand #5 is a good issue, even with the art change. The difference is disappointing and takes away from the book’s overall tone and feel a bit, but it’s still a great title with Straczynski’s writing. I want to stress Smith’s artwork isn’t bad, I just miss Templesmith already, and it was slightly jarring to see how different the book looks and feels without him. Regardless, I enjoyed the issue and look forward to more in the coming months.