10 April 2017

Review: Top 10, Book 1 by Alan Moore, Gene Ha, and Zander Cannon

Comic trade paperback, n.pag.
Published 2010 (contents: 1999-2000) 

Acquired December 2011
Read August 2016
Top 10: Collected Edition, Book 1

Writer: Alan Moore
Finishing Artist: Gene Ha
Layout Artist: Zander Cannon
Lettering: Todd Klein

It took me a little bit to warm up to this book. I don't know if it was me or the book. Set in a city called Neopolis where everyone has a secret identity and a superpower, this book follows the cops that patrol the city. Though there is a new-to-the-precinct viewpoint character, there are still a lot of characters to acclimate to in a pretty short span of time. There are also a lot of ongoing subplots: drug dealers, someone killing prostitutes, suspects committing suicide. But when I hit Chapter Four (there are eight issues collected here), it started to click into place.

I've just realized I should have got a scan of the Top 10 HQ, which is based on DC's Hall of Justice, which is of course based on Cincinnati's own Union Terminal.
from Top 10 #3

Probably because this is the issue where the dad of a lizard Top 10 has in custody turns up demanding the release of his son. The son is basically human sized, but his dad is a Godzilla-esque giant lizard-- except his better days are long behind him, and he's more of a careening drunk now. In Chapter Four, the precinct captain, Jetman (who was "Jetlad" during World War II) must keep Gograh under control via conversation while his subordinates try to find a way to neutralize him. It's a fun riff on some familiar tropes, and that's basically what the whole of Top 10 is, mostly on the tropes of the superhero and cop genres. You have a police sergeant who's a dog with prostheses, a phantom pervert, a telekinetic Santa Claus in October, an investigation into the death of a Norse god that leads to Odin threatening to just end the universe if the crime isn't solved, and a cop's mother whose apartment is being terrorized by ultra-mice-- the only solution to which is atom cats. The book was constantly making me smile, and often laugh.

It only escalates from here.
from Top 10 #6

But it's not all jokes: the book is funny, but it also takes its duties as a cop procedural seriously. It's just that the things these cops investigate are incredibly far-fetched. But there are still killings and murders and prostitution to investigate, and it becomes clear that a longer story is unfolding as you read these issues, one that will continue into Book 2. I quickly become interested in many of the characters, especially Jetman; Duane "Dust Devil" Bodine the techno-cowboy; viewpoint character Robyn "Toybox" Slinger, who has some kind of dad problems; her partner Jeff Smax of gruff and mysterious past; and more. Like a lot of ensemble stories, what's most fun is seeing the way these various people and personalities all bounce off each other. Alan Moore, Gene Ha, and Zander Cannon do a great job bringing them all to life, and making Top 10 greater than the sum of its parts, filling the stories with little details, amusing and great.

Even super-cops have to take public transit home at night.
from Top 10 #1

Alan Moore is arguably a master of genre more than anything else: in Watchmen and Miracleman, he used that power to blow the superhero genre apart. But here he shows that power can be used for good as well as for evil. By fusing several different pop culture genres, he creates something hugely fun and enjoyable that presents familiar ideas in unfamiliar lights.

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