this is the 198th in my series of forgotten or seldom read books
Top 10 by Alan Moore, writer and Gene Ha artist, DC, 2001-2002, 2 hardcover graphic novels (Part One and Part Two), police procedural / fantasy. Collects issues 1-12 of the comic book series. Also published in trade paper.
Let’s start with you imagining the opening of Hill Street Blues, okay? Police come into the briefing room, talking amongst themselves, then “Settle down everybody,” and the current assignments, what’s ongoing and so forth is given out. You’ve all seen it. Now let’s mess with your picture a little.
The cops are…different. One is dressed sort of like a cowboy, another is half transparent, another has clothes that keep shifting pattern, another is eight feet tall, dark blue, built like an Olympic level weight lifter. The guy reading out the assignments has the head of a Doberman Pinscher. Let me explain. This is a superb graphic novel by one of the finest writers currently in comics or any place else. The premise is “life at the precinct” and we get to know the cops of Precinct Ten, nicknamed Top 10, as they interact and work cases. But this is Neopolis, a city where most of the genetically improved, super-powered, alien or otherwise meta-human beings on the planet live. Like any other city, there is crime here – robbery, prostitution, murder, drugs, gangs but the criminals aren’t “normal” humans and neither are the cops. That’s what makes this so unique and so much fun.
Gene Ha’s artwork is straightforward and doesn’t get in the way of the story, yet it’s full of visual puns, and references to characters from all media. You could spend hours just going over the panels in detail. There was an article in Wizard magazine in 2001 or 2002 about all the buried references, if you want to search it out. Or you can just let the visuals support the great story.
The story doesn’t stop with the wind-up of these two books. Though the primary Top 10 series was this 12-issue set published between 2000 and 2001, there was more. Follow-ups included 2003’s 5-issue mini-spinoff Smax and 2005’s graphic novel Top 10: The Forty-Niners. 2005 also saw the publication of a 5-issue mini-series, written by Paul Di Filippo and illustrated by Jerry Ordway, titled Top 10: Beyond the Farthest Precinct. In 2008-2009, another 4-issue series, Top 10: Season Two, was written by Zander Cannon and Kevin Cannon, with art by Gene Ha. A single issue ‘Special’ set ‘Two weeks’ later was also produced.
In my opinion the two-parter reviewed here is the best of the lot, and stands alone. Top 10 is well worth a look. Highly recommended