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Author Topic: Review: Top Ten ( Book 1 and the Forty Niners)  (Read 3975 times)
Velorath
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Posts: 8517


on: February 23, 2005, 05:12:44 PM

Top Ten (Book 1)
Alan Moore:  Writer
Gene Ha:  Finishing artist
Zander Cannon:  Layout Artist

When people talk about Alan Moore it's usually in reference to Watchmen, Miricleman, LXG, V for Vendetta, From Hell, or Killing Joke.  On slightly more rare occassion people bring up stuff like Promethea or his work on Swamp Thing.  Almost never do I hear anyone discuss Top Ten which is a shame because while it might not have a place in comic book history like Watchmen, it's probably my favorite Alan Moore book.  Moore has a great gift for humor which doesn't always show through in some of his darker book.  Which isn't to say that Top Ten doesn't have it's serious moments, but the book strikes a good balance.

The overall concept of the series is that superheroes had become a bit of a hassle for the general populace back in the 40's and 50's.  Every hero that sprang up would spawn sidekicks, superpets, and villains, so the government built the city of Neopolis as a city where they'd be far enough away from the general public so as not to disrupt things.  One of the many alternate dimension version of Neopolis referred to as "Grand Central" came up with a system of policing the various versions of the city.  This comic is about the goings-on at precinct 10 , nicknamed "Top Ten".

This volume contains issues 1-7, as well as a two page introduction and some character sketches (in the hardback version anyway, not sure about the other versions).  There are several plotlines that run through most issues of both volumes (although not always at the forefront of the story), like the Libra Killler and the murder of Stefen "Saddles" Graczik.  In vol. 1 they also deal with such threats as the Fabulous Fivers, lead by Ernesto Gograh (son of an alcoholic Godzilla type giant lizard), the Ghostly Goose, Santa Claus, and the murder of Norse god Baldur.  So while you'll want to get both volumes to see all the plot threads tied up, Vol. 1 also stands on it's on well enough.

Book 1 starts off following officer Robyn "Toybox" Slinger on her first day on the job, starting with her taxi ride to the precinct  from Bob "Blindshot" Booker:  Zen Cabby (who uses his Zen Senses to drive the cab while blindfolded).  She's introduced to the rest of the regular cast including her partner Smax.  Smax, a rather large, invulnerable guy with blue skin, is a none-to-pleasant person especially after what happened to his last partner.  The other regulars include King Peacock, who talks to the Devil to find out his enemies weaknesses, the intangible Jack Phantom, genetically engineered Girl One, Shock-Headed Peter, the cowboy Dust Devil, Irma Geddon who wears a battle suit which has an assortment of guns explosives and nuclear warheads, talking dog Sergent Kemlo Caeser, and Captain Jetman Traynor among others.  The characters are distinctive, both in looks and personality, and watching them play off each other is often more entertaining than the plot.  In fact, the way Neopolis is set up with super-powered people doing even the most mundane jobs, just seeing the day to day workings of this city is fascinating in a way that you feel City of Heroes could really borrow from.

The artwork in Top Ten is amazing, simply-put (which caused delays in it's monthly schedule but that's obviously not a factor now).  There's just all kinds of great visual jokes in the artwork which you probably won't see on your first readthrough unless you look for them (like the billboard for Non-rip Gamma Pants "You wouldn't like me when I'm naked", or the graphitti on the men's room wall in the bathroom at the Godz bar "I suck - Call Charybdis 555-1212").  You could spend hours just going through the panels and looking at the things that are going on in the backround.

If you like this book, Book 2 is also recommended of course and Smax while not as good and also a completely different style of comic is worth reading.  There's also a new book coming out in May which takes place in Neopolis' past featuring a different cast of characters.
« Last Edit: August 14, 2005, 08:54:20 PM by Velorath »
Samprimary
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Reply #1 on: May 17, 2005, 07:01:31 PM

I just read it.

They did a great job with the merging of the superhero fantasy element with the Gritty, more personifying character realism.
schild
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Reply #2 on: May 17, 2005, 07:09:26 PM

I read it recently as well, I think I've got the - yea, I've got the first 2 books. Just waiting for softback the tpb of Book 3. I like it a mess.
Velorath
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Posts: 8517


Reply #3 on: May 17, 2005, 09:07:42 PM

I read it recently as well, I think I've got the - yea, I've got the first 2 books. Just waiting for softback the tpb of Book 3. I like it a mess.

Book 3 comes out pretty soon I think, unless you're referring to the Smax mini, which was pretty entertaining but a completely different style from Top 10.
schild
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Reply #4 on: May 17, 2005, 09:57:39 PM

No, I'm referring to Top Ten Book 3. Thanks. Hopefully very soon.
Velorath
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Posts: 8517


Reply #5 on: May 17, 2005, 10:08:46 PM

No, I'm referring to Top Ten Book 3. Thanks. Hopefully very soon.

May 25 is when it comes out.

Quote
Written by Alan Moore; Art and Cover by Gene Ha

The Eisner Award-winning team that brought you TOP TEN — writer Alan Moore (WATCHMEN, THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN) and artist Gene Ha
(TOP TEN) — reunites for an original hardcover graphic novel that delves into the past, revealing the origins of Neopolis and the first officers of Top Ten!

Neopolis is the city of the future, but it's also full of the roughest and toughest heroes and villains the world has ever known. You've met the cast of TOP TEN — Smax, King Peacock, Toybox, Joe Pi and more. Now meet their forebears, who blazed the trail and made Neopolis the city it is today!

America's Best Comics  |  112pg.  |  Color  |  Hardcover  |  $24.99 US

On Sale May 25, 2005

There'll also be a 5 part mini starting in August featuring the original characters, but not written by Moore.
Johny Cee
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Reply #6 on: May 19, 2005, 10:55:24 PM

Top Ten is good stuff.  All the characters have neat character flaws,  and they touch on all kinds of controverisal issues.  For example, Phantom Jack (or whatever her name is) is an open lesbian.  Toybox has issues at home caring for her senile father, etc.

I like Alan Moore, though I didn't particularly enjoy Watchmen.  God, I hate comics though.  With the speed I go through material, it isn't worth it to pick up anything unless it's fairly thought provoking (Sandman, most of the Moore stuff) in the comic format.
Velorath
Contributor
Posts: 8517


Reply #7 on: May 19, 2005, 11:36:37 PM

Top Ten is good stuff.  All the characters have neat character flaws,  and they touch on all kinds of controverisal issues.  For example, Phantom Jack (or whatever her name is) is an open lesbian.  Toybox has issues at home caring for her senile father, etc.

I like Alan Moore, though I didn't particularly enjoy Watchmen.  God, I hate comics though.  With the speed I go through material, it isn't worth it to pick up anything unless it's fairly thought provoking (Sandman, most of the Moore stuff) in the comic format.

I know what you're saying, but since I read through most of my comic multiple times it doesn't bother me as much.  I think I've gotten more hours of entertainment out of reading my Top Ten tpbs than I have a lot of the DVD's I've bought.  It's a lot easier for me to get in the mood though to read a couple comics really quick than it is to get up the desire to sit through a 2 hour movie or flip through TV channels to find something good on.  As far as video games go I've only picked up a couple this year (RE4 and God of War) that justified their price tag.  The dollar cost to entertainment value of pretty much any form of entertainment these days seems to be pretty out of whack.  What I will say about the cost of comics though is that it makes it very hard for people to try out new comics, especially from unknown writers, and it makes it harder for new people to get into comics.
schild
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Reply #8 on: May 20, 2005, 12:39:59 AM

I don't know. When I go into a comic book store and ramble off a list of comics and writers, generally whoever the sloppiest person at the store is has some good advice. Greasy as they may be, they know their shit. I've gotten some great recommendations. I probably never would have read Blankets or some of the other off-brand shit I have without listening to them.

Just don't let them spill their mountain dew at the register...I wish I was kidding. One guy spilled in the coin tray when it popped out.
Velorath
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Posts: 8517


Reply #9 on: August 10, 2005, 08:34:06 PM

Just got my copy of "Top Ten: The Forty-Niners" which came out recently.  I'll post my thoughts after I've had time to read it, but just wanted to let those interested know it's out.
Velorath
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Posts: 8517


Reply #10 on: August 14, 2005, 08:53:12 PM

Ok, so I finished reading "Top Ten: The Forty Niners" the other day.  My initial thoughts from the time I started reading, were that I wished this wasn't the last Top Ten story written by Moore, and I would have prefered to see him do one more story with the original characters, rather than do a prequel.  This is also a somewhat short book, equal to about 4 issues of a comic.  Still, it's new Alan Moore "Top Ten" stuff so I can't complain too much.

Anyhow it's 1949, the with the war ending, all science-heroes are being relocated to the newly created city of Neopolis, including 16 year old Steve "Jetlad" Traynor.  On the train ride in, he runs into his one-time enemy Leni Muller, the Sky Witch (who switched sides and joined the Americans at some point after her dogfight with a then 10 year old Traynor).  Neopolis is still very much in the experimental stages.  The Vampire mob (introduced previously in a Top Ten story in an ABC one-shot) is causing problems, straining the recently formed Neopolis police to the point where they might be replaced by the military and the city would be under martial law.  Former Nazi scientists like Prof. Gromolko and Die Eisen Maske, who have been given plush jobs helping design the city, also stir up some trouble.

The real focus of the story though is on Traynor's job working as a mechanic for the Skyshaks and his struggle coming to terms with his sexuality, as well as on Sky Witch's new job as a police officer.  Those who have read the other volumes of Top Ten already have a good idea of how Traynor's story turns out (we don't seem him join the police force in this story though) making Muller's story the most interesting part of the book.  While the officers in this book for the most part aren't as colorful as Smax and the rest, there are some stand-out characters, most notably, the Maid (Joanna Dark, obviously patterned after Joan of Arc), Muller's parter the Black Rider (Ramon Morales, a motorcycle riding, Zorro style hero), and Frank Chambers, the hulking suit of armor known as Steelguantlet.  The original Toybox is also there although he doesn't have much to do in this story, and we are also introduced to the Doctor Omega, the captain of Top Ten, but his part is fairly small as well.

Once again Gene Ha does the art, so it's in a similar style as the other volumes.  The colors are a lot more grey though, and there isn't the abundance of jokes hidden in the background.  There are some great images though, particularly in the last chapter.  That Marvel has used him in the past to illustrate crap like "The Adventures of Cyclops and Phoenix" boggles the mind.

So overall, not exactly what I would have wanted from Moore before DiFilippo takes over Top Ten with the soon to be released 5-part mini "Beyond the Farthest Precinct", but well worth reading for any other Top Ten fans out there.
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