Cops and Robbers


Top 10: Season Two #1

One of Alan Moore’s most purely enjoyable comics was the original “Top 10” which focused on police officers who had to keep the peace in a city where everyone had superpowers. Part police procedural, part superhero action-comedy, the series followed the superpowered cops of Neopolis as they dealt with alien serial killers, a corrupt police commissioner, murders of Norse gods, and an infestation of UltraMice. It’s still one of my favorite comics series of all time. There was a spinoff (“Smax,” which was awesome), a prequel (“The Forty-Niners,” which was awesome), and a sequel (“Beyond the Farthest Precinct,” which suuuucked).

This new sequel wisely pretends “Beyond the Farthest Precinct” never happened. Alan Moore isn’t on board this time, but writing chores have been taken over by former “Top 10” layout artist Zander Cannon, with penciller Gene Ha still handling the artwork.

In this first issue, a new officer named Slipstream Phoenix arrives at the precinct office — only a few vague hints about his powers, he has weird pseudo-Egyptian markings around his eyes, and he wears an actual police uniform instead of a superhero costume. Anyway, it’s soon revealed that he’s not just a new officer — he’s an open spy for the new transdimensional police commissioner, who is obsessed with enforcing normalcy and has announced that all officers are only allowed to use standard-issue police equipment, firearms, and uniforms.

Meanwhile, some mysterious serial killer has just dumped a dozen dead girls into the fountain in front of the police headquarters, Irma Wornow is still mourning the death of her old partner Sung Li, and Lt. Colby finds out that (A) she’s pregnant and (B) her husband likes to dress up in skimpy superheroine costumes. In addition, it looks like we’ll finally get some focus on Jenny McCambridge, who’s previously been just a background character.

Verdict: Thumbs up. The fear was that, without Alan Moore writing, the story would fall flat — something that certainly happened with “Beyond the Farthest Precinct,” which really was just spectacularly awful. But this one isn’t bad at all. I think it helps that Cannon and Ha were both involved with the original series — replicating the artwork is a nice touch, and maybe they were able to absorb some of Moore’s magical storytelling abilities through osmosis.

As far as the commissioner’s new rules for the officers — sounds like it’ll be a great opportunity for some fun stories. It’s gonna be hard for Duane Bodine and Irma Wornow, with their 12-shooter pistols and atomic power armor, but on the other hand, wow, those new uniforms really do look pretty good. Officer Pete Cheney always looked ridiculous in his own costume, but the picture of him on the cover — other than his goofy antennae, he looks almost normal.

Slipstream Phoenix looks like he’ll be fun — simultaneously idealistic and really, really untrustworthy. I’m also liking the idea of giving Officer McCambridge a more active role in the story. If there’s a downside to this issue, it’s that there are a lot fewer visual in-jokes here — very few superpowered Charlie Browns or William Shakespeares or sly comic book references. It may be that those will pick up as the series goes on, and it could be that those were part of what Moore brought to the original series.

I’ve got my fingers crossed for this one — let’s hope it stays fun to read.

No Comments

  1. Maxo Said,

    October 8, 2008 @ 11:29 am

    Oh man, Farthest Precinct was terrible. I’m glad to hear this one is more in keeping with the spirit of the other runs.

  2. Scott Said,

    October 8, 2008 @ 3:09 pm

    Wasn’t it awful! I got the first issue or two, and it just made me so depressed.

    “Hey, let’s come up with a bunch of new characters who all look like complete freaks! Then let’s make the old characters and the new characters date each other! Suck it, Alan Moore!”