Trade Post: Top 10 Vol. 1 & 2

TOP 10 BOOK ONE (America’s Best Comics/WildStorm/(now)DC)
Written by Alan Moore, drawn by Gene Ha
Collects Top 10 #1-7
In preparation for an upcoming Topless Robot column I found myself re-reading the first two Top 10 volumes which launched along with League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Tom Strong and Promethea to kick off Moore’s America’s Best Comics WildStorm imprint. I’ve tried Tom Strong and Promethea and just couldn’t get into them, while LOEG is one of my favorite comics of all time (I even wrote a big paper on it in college comparing the characters in the comics to the characters in the original works). Top 10 was a close second. At least it was…

The basic premise behind the series is that this place called Neopolis is full of every kind of fictional character you can imagine. There’s superheroes and villains, robots, gods, monsters, fantasy characters. Everything, all in one city just trying to live. The Top 10 are the cops (from the 10th precinct) who patrol the city. Instead of going after supervillains though, these guys are called in for domestic disputes, serial killings and the like, all of which do of course involve people and things with crazy powers. The procedural aspect of the book really does play off like a great cop show with characters passing each other, stories intersecting and a great flow that makes you feel like you’re watching TV instead of reading a comic. There’s also more awesome references packed into the panels than in any other comic I’ve ever seen (with the possible exception of LOEG). For a full list of annotations from Top 10 check out Jess Nevins’ rad site here. I used his site and book as reference when working on my LOEG paper, it really is fantastic.

I still really enjoyed the first volume. As far as I’m concerned those first six issues are some of the most solid cop comics ever written. They weave in and out seamlessly, we get to know the characters bit by bit, a giant monster attacks the precinct and Santa Claus attacks. Things do start slipping for me in this volume with the deicide story in #7. SPOILER TERRITORY The whole point of the story is that Baldur, the Norse god, was killed in a bar called Godz. The cops spend all this time investigating it until it turns out that it’s just a cycle in this god’s life. That story might have been fun the first time around, but it just seemed tedious this time around, especially with the crazy fonts they used in the god word balloons. I ended up skipping those story pages after a while because I knew the twist and this isn’t a Usual Suspects kind of twist where you’re looking at everything from a new angle the second time around, so it just didn’t have any value.

TOP 10 BOOK 2 (America’s Best Comics/WildStorm/(now)DC)
Written by Alan Moore, drawn by Gene Ha
Collects Top 10 #8-12
My boredness with #7 seeped into the whole second book, unfortunately. Now, I’m pretty sure this isn’t any fault of Moore’s script, but with all of the comics I’ve read since these came out. #8 has more easter eggs in the panels than any other issue and it’s also one of the more acclaimed ones with the story of a spaceman getting fused with a cosmic chess piece thanks to an unauthorized teleport jump. The dudes at Wizard a few years back were really high on this issue. It made it onto a few lists they did and we talked about it in the office a lot. I’m guessing all the hype kind of saturated the story and/or raised my expectations to the point where this issue didn’t really do much for me.

Aside from that, a major portion of this volume focuses on analogs for Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman not being real superheroes, but actually a front for superkid pedophilia. I’m sure this was pretty shocking when it came out, but now it just reads like a strange, slightly watered down version of The Boys, Authority or something. In this case it feels like it’s just there for shock factor which, to me, is below Moore’s talent level.

The other aspect of this volume that got on my nerves was how much everything ties back into the events of the first volume. What seemed so cool about the first volume is that seemingly random things were mentioned and came back later. Plus, the police work seemed spot on with leads and theories turning out to be completely wrong and that sort of thing. But then in the second book you’ve got people murdering each other who popped up in the first issue and a suspect from another crime unnecessarily brought back, this time as a superkid prostitute. There also seems to be a complete lack of emotion in the book, even when one of their own gets killed and another seriously injured.

I did enjoy the stories featuring the out of control police commisioner and King Peacock getting sent to another dimension and ends up fighting in gladiatorial games. Part of my disappointment in the comic, specifically the second volume is that I want more and know that Moore only did two more books, neither of which really focus on more than a few characters you see in these books. There’s The 49ers, which is set 50-60 years in Neopolis’ past and Smax which takes Smax and Slinger to Smax’s home planet/dimension/thing. I’ve read 49ers but not Smax. I’m borrowing it this weekend though. It’s too bad this isn’t one of the books Moore wanted to continue doing like LOEG, because I’m curious to know more about these characters, but not sure if I want to spend the time reading the other books written by people who aren’t Alan Moore. Has anyone read them? Are they worth checking out?

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