Pick of the Week
What did the
Right away, let’s get something straight. This is not Alan Moore’s Top 10, and no amount of pretending is going to make that so. But, the fact is, we’re not going to get Alan Moore’s Top 10 again, and going in with almost no expectations, I have to say, this book brought a smile to my weary and thinly bearded face.
First, some history: Top 10 was the result of Alan Moore, Zander Cannon, and Gene Ha collaborating to make one of my favorite short lived comic series in the last 10 years. It was a slightly melodramatic, slightly silly story of superhuman cops in a futuristic city called Neopolis where everyone had powers and a costume. It was expansive, and there were 12 issues of glorious comic book produced, plus a couple mini series before Moore got mad at DC Comics once again, and said NAY to anymore work for them. There was a mini-series, Top 10 The Farthest Precinct, written by Paul de Filippo and drawn by Jerry Ordway which I had zero interest in reading, because it wasn’t Alan Moore. When I heard that Zander Cannon, who had previously done layouts for the series, and Gene Ha, who is an underappreciated god of comic book art, were going to continue the series without the wizard himself, I was not that interested. But the fact is, when I saw that book on the stands today, a little flutter happened in my chest, and I snatched it up. Plus, look at the stones on this Cannon guy, basically saying, “No. I will not let this die. Alan, give me the keys, and we’ll take this baby out for a spin.” You’ve got to respect that chutzpah.
While certainly not as elegant as Moore’s work, there is value in this issue. For one thing, there are no interlopers. Ha and Cannon worked on the original book. They didn’t bring anyone else in, and if there was anyone, other than Moore who knows these characters and this world better, I don’t know who they are. After the goings on at the end of issue #12, Neopolis Police Department is left without a commissioner (a word I only hear being uttered by Heath Ledger in my head – ‘ka-MISHIN-errrr”), and the new guy is a tight-ass, by the books, jobsworth. I don’t know about you, but I’ve been there. You work at a job that you don’t particularly like, and then one day, someone above you is replaced by someone else, and you have a meeting, and at said meeting, you learn that the job you could barely tolerate previously, is going to get much worse with a bunch of rules that were ignored for a reason, and without incident in the first place. The cops of NPD will have to go back to wearing uniforms, and only using standard issue weaponry, which is a stretch for some of these characters, some of whom actually are weapons. Additionally, there’s a new officer who’s a plant from the new boss, and no one likes him. But, in a twist, it turns out that he’s actually sort of sympathetic, which is a better choice, not unlike Joe Pi from the last series. Then some of the other officers, who I must say I’ve missed, get some of their own subplots going, and just like that, we’re back in Neopolis, and it might not be Alan Moore, but it’s not so bad.
Of course, a big reason for the success of the original series was the boundless talent of Gene Ha. The guy can flat out draw comics. He does pages so full and energetic, but at the same time, he can do human emotion and facial expressions like the best of them. Look at the faces on Shock-Headed Pete. He looks like no one else in the book, and is so expressive. Even without words, you can tell what the guy is thinking and feeling on every panel. There are so many fun character designs that thankfully haven’t gone to waste, and we’re back to see more of great characters like Irma-geddon, Kemlo, and Dust Devil. Plus, he’s got a great sense of humor on these crowded pages. Take the scene where Cathy and Jackie have a little chat about Cathy’s cross-dressing husband (I said it was melodramatic), in the medical examiner’s office. They’re having this serious heart to heart talk, and in the foreground of the panel are the feet of a recently dead victim, and those feet are funny. I think I can easily say that without Ha on this project, I wouldn’t have bothered, but with him, it takes me right back into this world.
Like I said, it’s not Alan Moore, but if you liked what came before, and you’re like me, wanting more, this is what you’re going to get, and that’s pretty good really. I was pleasantly surprised about the smile this book put on my face, and while your mileage may vary, this was my favorite book in a mostly dismal week of comics. If you’ve never read Top 10, I don’t know if I would recommend starting here, but if you liked it before, you’ll probably like this. It’s a little clunkier than Moore’s work, but I kept watching West Wing after Aaron Sorkin left, and while at first I wondered, “who the hell are these people I’d previously known,” by the end I was certainly enjoying it once again.
I could have used more Kemlo.