Top Ten - Book 02 Paperback – Jun 1 2003
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From Publishers Weekly
Continuing his exploration of superhero comics, Moore speculates on what would happen if an expansion in the number of people who are able to develop their desires into super powers led to the creation of Neopolis. His world is populated by superbeings: people (and animals, space aliens, robots, etc.) who have extraordinary abilities and secret identities. Basic human nature leads to an urban society resembling today's, including the need to maintain law and order among the sometimes barely controllable superbeings. Based on that premise, overlapping, intertwined stories create a kind of skewed Hill Street Blues for the cops of Top 10, the police station in Neopolis. Sometimes their cases work out farcically, but sometimes very seriously. After all, Moore asks, if you could do almost anything, what limits would you accept? What kind of responsibility would you take for others? Most comics series are intended to be endless, so nothing changes much from issue to issue. That's not so in this case; Book One is necessary reading before picking up Book Two. The art helps this purpose. Much of today's manga-influenced comics art is designed to convey excitement, using motion at the expense of detail. The artwork here reverts to an older tradition of elaborate pen and ink text illustration (like Joseph Clement Coll's work), slowing readers down just enough to make them alert to the elegant details of the world Moore has created. Anyone interested in comics should be paying attention to Moore and this outstanding example of his recent thinking.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
The comic-book series Top 10 has been described as "Hill Street Blues with superheroes." It is set in futuristic Neopolis, where every resident, from the mayor to the garbage man, has super powers. The challenge of maintaining order in such an environment falls to a constabulary that includes desk sergeant Kemlo Caesar, a talking dog in a humanoid exoskeleton; Jack Phantom, who passes through solid objects; the moody, invulnerable giant Officer Smax; and Girl One, with her impervious, bio-engineered skin. Like their normal TV counterparts, these officers deal with everything--traffic accidents to municipal corruption--that occurs within a continuing, soap-operatic storyline. Moore makes them as human as prime-time cop-show characters, only much more imaginative and exciting, and detailed, finely rendered art helps ground the fantastic goings-on. Lightweight compared to Moore's Jack the Ripper reinterpretation, From Hell (2000), or his reinvention of the superhero in Watchmen series, Top 10 finds Moore simply refreshing the superhero concept and proving--witness Sergeant Caesar--that you can teach an old dog new tricks. Gordon Flagg
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
This series is fun, the characters believeable and the adventures are crafted with a golden age content but manage to incorporate issues of today such as prostitution, drug addiction, alternative lifestyles and child abuse. Most of the stories follow what the Top 10 police force personally experience day to day. Think of the story lines as "Law and Order" for superheroes. It's great fun. Also make sure you review each individual art panel as you read along. You'll discover all kinds of super heroes you know and love from the golden, silver and current ages of comics. They're not really involved in the story, but only function as backdrops. You'll see Batman, Wolverine, the gray Hulk advertising expandable Gamma pants and even Popeye hanging out with other comic sailors in a local bar.
There are two other books in the series, the first "Top 10" (Book One) and an earlier version of the city called the "Fortyniners", which is set in the time just after World War II. Look for your favorite comic stars from the 20's, 30's and 40's. They actually relocated the Yokums from "Lil Abner"and the 1940's Sub Mariner, though he still has amnesia.
In other news, King Peacock is forced to travel to Ancient Rome (correction, some parallel universe in which Ancient Rome still holds sway) to become a gladiator like Russell Crowe. This part made me think of the old time expression, "jumping the shark" which I'm sure was heard often in the baths of Caracalla. It wasn't a total loss, but Peacock deserves better than that and so does his stalwart black family waiting for him so faithfully to come back from the Colosseum.
In another striking storyline, we discover that one of our own is behind the wave of drug smuggling and attendant evildoing, and the skell in question came as a complete surprise to me! It was an officer seemingly above reproach who turns out to be savage when captured, resulting in the tragic death of one of Top 10's most beloved characters. I don't want to give away any spoilers, let me just say from Chapter Three on, you'll want to bring along your handkerchiefs to mop up some excess tears.
Moore's famous humour and iconoclasm abound, but Top 10 Book Two reveals what we've always suspected, he's a softy at heart.
This however, is different. While it is difficult to detach from the powerful overall impact of Watchmen, Top Ten might have the best graphics of any Moore work. This may not even be due to the principle artists; I think the color makes the difference.
Top 10 has an end-of-scale premise, but it gets obvious very soon that this is about the characters, not their powers. This is especially true for Joe Pi. Entering the story about halfway, he has a hard time because he is a replacement for a very popular officer who died in the line of duty. How the people react to him and how he manages to connect is among the best stories in comics.
It's only a small story though: This is not about any single person, the team is always the most important thing. You learn to love and hate more than one of them during the two books and will wish for more after you finished this one.
What makes Top Ten such a great comic is how every issue, no matter how fantastically treated, is a human issue that most of us can relate to, whether it's Smax' despair and inability to reach out to his friends, Kemlo's forbidden (or not) love, or Duane's annoyance at his partner's racism.
Moore especially is at the top of his game with Top Ten, mixing dead-on humor, comic references that span all genres, action, and drama into what would be an insufferable mess in anyone else's hands.