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TOP TENWriter: Alan Moore
Artists: Zander Cannon (illustrator) Gene Ha (concepts)
Publisher: America's Best Comics
Synopsis: Neopolis' problem can be summed up in three words: too many superheroes. In fact, the city was built to hold all the heroes, sidekicks, villains, aliens, robots, and so forth that grew so populous after WWII. Unfortunately, when everyone's got superpowers, the "hero" part gets a little devalued--which is where the city's police precict, nicknamed Top Ten, comes in.
How Is It?: A real clever idea, Top Ten presents a superhero book structured more like a police show: the station bustles with characters and plotlines, some serious, some ridiculous, all constantly developing in the background while the characters try to deal with a dozen other things. This first volume deals with a mysterious harrasser called "The Ghostly Goose", a routine deicide, a telekinetic Santa, a drunken movie monster, and a horrific series of slayings attributed to the "Libra Killer". If you like shows like "ER" and "Hill Street Blues", this is the superhero comic for you--fast-paced, bustling, and chock full of small moments amongst the chaos. The artwork is perhaps a bit on the sketchy side, though the designs are neat and Neopolis itself is stunning, sort of a cross between a Blade Runner-ish futurescape and the gleaming World's Fair city that someone like Superman would traditionally inhabit. There are also some cute throwaway gags (the funniest being the subject matter of the comic books in Neopolis.)
Book TwoSynopsis: Continuing to the end of the "First Season" of the series, things continue on their usual hectic way at Top Ten. Usual, at least, until the identity of "Saddles'" killer is revealed in the most unexpected way. Suddenly the precinct is thrown into chaos, massive interdepartmental corruption is revealed, and, shockingly, a regular character is dead. The rest of the season deals with the fallout from this shocker, along with dealing with a new, cybernetic recruit, which not everyone is that happy about...
How Is It?: How does Alan Moore DO it? Seriously? How does he keep so many balls in the air, and have them pay off so elegantly? This second collection does an absolutely masterful job of weaving dozens of plot threads together, in such a way that you never know which ones are going to suddenly pay off. The crazy thing is, despite the over-the-top setting (sometimes it's over-the-top even by comic book standards!) you honestly believe that these people are all real police officers, operating according to a procedure and treating the goings-on as a regular day job. It really is like a great cop show, with aliens and cyborgs and superheroes and parallel realities...anyway, Moore also shakes things up with two huge payoffs: the M'grrla Qualtz storyline and the homicide of Saddles come together in suitably epic fashion; then there's the bust of a kiddie porn ring in the "Season Finale". But the real pleasure comes from the little details. For example, it's hinted that Peregrine may have a brain tumor. Then there's the crush that Synaethesia reveals for King Peacock, or the foreshadowing of a character's death...which turns out a completely different way you'd be expecting. The masterstroke, though, is the addition of the new recruit, Joe Pi, a Voltron-like robot whose presence is resented by many of the Top Tenners, but who proves to understand humans better than most of his colleagues. With "Season One" over and the series on "Hiatus", I'm left with the kind of longing you get learning one of your favourite shows is cancelled...but at least it IS coming back. I hope.
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