Are there such places as Heaven or Hell? “Ten Grand #3,” the latest installment in J. Michael Straczynski and Ben Templesmith’s comic, makes you seriously question the meaning of life and what happens thereafter.
Why are we here? Why do we breathe, eat and sleep and work our lives to the bone just so that we can kill ourselves some more? Love is the answer. It is the string that ties our souls together.
In The Crow, we heard Sarah say that “true love never dies,” but maybe she had it wrong all along. If your true love dies, does she feel the pain forever? Will her spirit seek shelter in the light of The Good? Or does she spin around in circles, trapped in the nightmare of her love’s history, becoming a confused and disjointed ghost set to haunt the world ’til the end of time?
“Ten Grand” is a little bit “Constantine,” part-way “The Darkness”, while a fifth of the story hearkens back to Roland of Gilead in Stephen King’s series. As a whole I feel there’s an immortal connection here that spans centuries. The root of it can be found in Joseph Campbell‘s “Hero with a Thousand Faces,” every individual belonging to the collective conscious of humankind seeks a kindred heart, someone to share their short life with.
And this is really the meaning of the story: If you love something, don’t let it go.
In “Ten Grand,” our antihero, Joe, seeks out every opportunity to achieve a righteous death, to spend a mere five minutes with his beloved, as per a deal he made with a demon.
After she was killed by a monster from another dimension, he’s decided he will stop at nothing to take down a character named Brother James, the man who took her life.
He said she’s the kindest soul he’s met in ages and being a contract killer, or “button man” as he calls it, he’s seen his share of darkness.
Getting a glimpse into Joe’s past is a nice reprieve from the grotesque pages seen previously in #1 and #2. I’ve been waiting to find out how he and his eternal love actually met in this life and I wasn’t disappointed when in a grimy diner she confessed to him, “No one’s ever called me beautiful before.”
I am positively willing Templesmith to eke out some world-shaking revenge in the next issue and I hope like hell I see some more red-tinted watercolor panels in “Ten Grand #4.”
The dreamy, sort of lighthearted scenes from the comic are more of a bluish, yellowish tint, while the anger-fueled redemption scenes are usually dark purple, black and red.
I really like this series so far. To be able to lose myself in this world of endless possibilities beyond the thin veil of our mortal coil, I’ve succeeded in opening my mind to the unexplained. And it’s been good enough to distract me from the fact that the release date for “East of West” is scheduled for some time next month.
Now I’m left wondering… is JMS keeping our heroine hostage in another dimension? And will Joe finally save her? There’s a Stabbing Westward song that would go go right along with this series if only Joe would give up the ghost and move on with his life, however he can’t seem to save anyone but himself.
How many people have to die before Joe finds peace?