When the movie Constantine came out, I caught a lot of flak from my friends because I liked it. It wasn’t a great movie (or maybe not even good), but entertaining, and more importantly, it was a point of accessibility for the character of John Constantine. The Hellblazer comics were always a little too convoluted and back-issue heavy for readers to be able to jump into it. This is a shame, as its protagonist and world are very interesting. DC has even attempted to bring ol’ John into the fold in the New 52. The reason I bring this all up is because Ten Grand #1 takes the familiar theme, and character archetype, and makes it very accessible, and presents the finished product in a very attractive package. If Joe Fitzgerald had a favorite drink, it would be a “Constantini.”
J. Michael Straczynski’s story feels like the occult updated for the current generation. In this wonderful mixture of the
mystics and modern technology, smartphones are used as mediums for spirits, firewalls keep the monsters out, and the undead have their own search engine. The tradition story of loss and redemption feels unique thanks to the setting, and you have to see the art in this thing to believe it. Ben Templesmith’s artwork is deceptively complex, and viewing it as abstract (as I did for the first couple of pages) is a mistake. One a first view, the reader can think that the art is stylistically haphazard. Lines shift in thickness and length; proportions warp from panel to panel. Looking closer though, the reader begins to see the mastery Templesmith uses in building the characters and world on the page. He is selective of the details he highlights, making sure each line is worthy of being marked. If a line in on the page, look at it closely because it has to be there. It really is a beautiful book, and you owe it to yourself to go through it at least once and just focus on each panel as its own piece of art. It might not be for everyone, but I thoroughly enjoyed what I saw.
Beyond the overall story being set up within Ten Grand #1’s pages, and the amazing artwork, the actual issue itself is damn near perfect for a “first of.” The world the story takes place in is fleshed-out nicely for the reader, and enough detail is given about it so that the suspension of belief isn’t a problem. There is ample characterization of the main character Joe Fitzgerald, and by the end the motivations are clear. An interesting antagonist is revealed, along with some back-story, and the end is not a cliffhanger that makes it difficult to wait for the next issue, but one that makes the waiting feel good in your soul, as you grasp from details not yet given.
The first issue of Ten Grand reads like a “How-To” for kicking off a new series. Some of the themes and characters will seem a bit familiar, but that isn’t a bad thing. They are quickly built upon so that the scaffolding doesn’t show. If I had to recommend one issue of one new series to pick up, it’s this one. Do yourself a favor and jump on board this thing while it’s still on the shelves. Ebay prices are way too high on excellent first issues to try and get this sucker later.