Friday, November 19, 2010
Review: Top 10 Book 1
Imagine a city, that is completely populated by folks with super-human abilities; From the lowliest bum all the way up to the highest of high rollers. That's the city of Neopolis. It's a city where everyone has some sort of special power, and a costume and alter-ego to match. The city was built by the world's greatest minds, as a place to house the burgeoning amounts of super-powered people after World War II. A city full of supes is eventually gonna be in need of some serious law and order, and that's were the folks of the Tenth Precinct, AKA Top 10, come in.
This well crafted graphic novel follows the day-to-day lives of the cops who work at Top 10. Though there is no true "main character" in this story, we first follow new recruit, Robyn "Toybox" Slinger as she starts her first week on the job at Top 10. She's met with cold indifference by her partner, the massive, blue-skinned Smax, as they investigate a homicide. From there Slinger, Smax, and the rest of the diverse group of police at Top 10 investigate a series of crimes, murders, and evil scientists that all seem to be strung together somehow. While putting the pieces of the current mystery together, they must also deal with the return of a serial killer know only as the Libra Killer, and an the Ghostly Goose, an invisible specter fond of fondling unsuspecting women.
Top 10 is a fantastic crime story with a nice sci-fi twist. It's easy for superhero stories to cop out and not deal with reality at all, and serve simply as an escape to a fantasy world where good and bad stand out and the complexities of real life are swept aside. Top 10 is not that kind of superhero comic. In Alan Moore's Neopolis, robots, and monsters face bigotry, prejudice, and inequality and serve as a clear allegory to real world minorities.
The police that serve Top 10 are a diverse group and utilize a wide range of skills and strengths to keep crime at bay. There's King Peacock, a Satan worshiper who can find and exploit any weak-spot, Irma-geddon a one woman arsenal, the nigh-invincible, power-beam shooting Smax, electo-zapping Shock-head Pete, and many others who make up the team. Initially, it was somewhat difficult to keep track of all the characters, but since, as the reader, you initially follow Robyn Slinger on her first day, you get the experience of feeling like it is your first day at Top 10 as well. Eventually, the characters come to be familiar faces, and Moore fleshes them out quite well. Moore cleverly shows the reader the human side of his super-powered characters and through that I got to know them as people. This served to make them not only easy to relate to, but also quite interesting, and very memorable.
On top of being written by Alan Moore, Top 10 features an all-star art team up of Zander Cannon and Gene Ha. Cannon did the "layouts", and Ha was the "finishing artist" for this graphic novel...Since I'm pretty much an idiot, and I'm slowly learning about comics as I go, I'm gonna guess that Cannon penciled everything out, and Ha inked it. Does that make Ha a... tracer? I don't know.
What I do know is that Top 10 is pretty glorious to look at. Each panel is exquisitely detailed, and nuanced. Not only that, but there's a bunch of little references to other comics stuff in the art. Great art, and a great compliment to the wonderful story.
Top 10 is easily one of the finest graphic novel's I've read this year. So far everything I've read by Alan Moore has been a hit with me. In fact, I loved Top 10 so much that I instantly started reading the second book immediately after I finished this volume. So be on the look out for that review soon enough! While you're waiting, go out and pick up Top 10 book one.