March 13, 2010

,   |  

Top Ten Book Two

Written by Alan Moore
Illustrated by Gene Ha and Zander Cannon
Wildstorm

The paranormal police force of Top Ten are back, ready to tie up some loose ends and show that no one is above the law, though some might wish to skirt the line a little bit. Can our men, women, and androids in blue save the day when the stakes get higher?

If this was just a series about a superhuman police force investigating supernatural crimes in a world where everyone has powers of some kind, this would be a great book. In the hands of Alan Moore, who writes this with a passion and energy he gives to all his best projects, and Gene Ha, who finds a way to drop in more subtle references per panel than any artist I've ever seen, it's a classic for the ages.

The plot this time picks up on some of the side notes from the first volume. As the Top Ten team investigates, their members face mortal perils, moral quandaries, and corruption at a level not seen before in more ways than one. Watch as Lt. Colby tries to make sense of a deadly collision and console the dying in the area of interdimensional transport. Thrill as our favorite occulti

st, King Peacock, fights for his life on a world where Gladiatorial battles are still the norm! What happens when you discover that the enemy of your enemy is *not* your friend? The whole team gets into the act to stop this, possibly their most powerful menace?

In the aftermath of the battle, we get a new teammate, whose difference leads to some griping and coping. No matter what the setting, there's prejudice, and Moore finds a way to do this in such a clever manner here you wonder if there's anything he can't do, which leads me to the final part of this series...

....Top Ten versus the Justice League.

The JLA in this world are very bad people who've faked their way to fame and illicit booty calls. And this is where I have a bit of an issue. I must admit that Moore's fixation on sex starts to get to me after awhile, but this is done well, so it's less of a problem.

The handling of how to take down a Superman-like figure is absolutely brilliant. I'm not sure how he got away with even writing this part, but it's brilliant, right down to Ha's designing of JLA-like characters without being annoyingly obvious. He even ends it in typical Moore ambiguity, but to go further than that would be to tell too much.

I wish I could include all the little touches that make this work, but I'll list a few--a Fantastic Four cubist print on Colby's wall, The "Blues Beatles"--Ted, Bailey, Abner, and Ringo, Reed Richards in a car with Plastic Man, Elongated Man, Elastic Lad, and the guy from Squadron Supreme, Marvin the Martian hanging out with his dog, and Dazzler singing with the White Queen on backup vocals, just to name a few. This series takes forever for me to read because I spend so much time picking up on all the little things that Ha does, after absorbing the great Moore dialog. He can go from slapstick humor--did I mention the cosmic battle between superpowered mice and cats?--to the very serious idea of dealing with loss and death.

These are some of the best comics I've ever read. If you're not reading this series yet, it's time to go back and do so. You won't be sorry. At two volumes for the core series, it's easy to finish and easy to wish there was more, no pun intended. Top Ten is arguably my favorite Alan Moore work, right up there with Promethea.