Superhuman police officers, a teleportation accident and The Meaning Of Life.  It’s all in a days’ work for America’s Best Comics.  Your Major Spoilers (Retro) Review of Top Ten #8 awaits!

TopTen8CoverTOP TEN #8
Writer: Alan Moore
Penciler: Gene Ha/Zander Cannon
Inker: Gene Ha
Colorist: Wildstorm FX
Letterer: Todd Klein
Editor: Eric DeSantis
Publisher: America’s Best Comics
Cover Price: $2.95
Current Near-Mint Pricing: $3.00

Previously in Top Ten: The city of Neopolis is a city of superhumans, where everyone from street toughs to soccer moms has powers.  Thus, the Neopolis PD 10th Precinct (known colloquially as Top Ten) employs superhumans of their own, including Lieutenant Cathy Colby, known as Peregrine.  Don’t be fooled by the superhero trappings, though, Peregrine is police through-and-through, and this particular morning begins with a radio report of a “jump bump”, a teleportation accident.  Making her way to the scene, Cathy discovers that things are worse than they seem, at least for a couple of commuters…


Normally, I might make a smart-aleck remark like “That must hurt”, but the art of Cannon & Ha make that panel seem like a particularly horrible way to go.  Worse still, it falls to Peregrine to deal with the other victims of the accident, neither of whom seems to realize how serious their injuries are…


Peregrine calls in the accident to headquarters, where her Captain is somewhat occupied by the matter of a murderous alien who is also a former member of Neopolis’ number one super-team.  The real fun of this series comes in the interactions of the unusual members of Top Ten’s roster, including artificial human Girl-One and her partner, who goes by the incredible nom de guerre of Irma Geddon.  Just take a moment to bask in that one for a little bit…  I’ll wait.  Indeed, the cops of Top Ten are famous enough that a vidja game has been made about their exploits…


King Peacock, another wondrous sobriquet, is briefly in this issue on his way to another Precinct to follow up on a lead (which ends up being gladiatorial combat, though we don’t find that out until next ish.)  While all that is going on, Lt. Colby has to break the bad news to Mr. Nebula that his lady-friend Saroona has died in the accident.

And that’s not even the BAD news…


Even though it’s almost a foregone conclusion that the man is going to die, Peregrine is a police office, and has to try and figure out how such an accident could have happened…

Which means, as unpleasant as it will obviously be, she has to question two dying beings.


Separately, Gene Ha and Zander Cannon are excellent artists, but together, somehow, their styles mesh into something even more compelling.  The expression on Peregrine’s face as she realizes what she has to do, the grief on Nebula’s, even the aforementioned terrible sense of “real” in the fusion of two bodies, all makes the scene even more affecting.  And then, the Great Gamer, Kapela, weighs in with his testimony…


I love the matter-of-fact truth in Kapela’s statement, and how Moore once again uses the dialogue to deliver perfect character moments.  Everyone on the platform is silent for a moment, then Mr. Nebula bursts into laughter, a wonderful release for both the characters and the reader.  (I also enjoy seeing all the not-quite-cameos in Neopolis’ air traffic, including a Legionnaire, an Avenger and what I believe to be Gatchaman’s God Phoenix airship.)

As Peregrine tries to process what has happened, Multi-Woman gives her the worst news of all: Nebula is certainly going to die, but the nature of his injuries mean it will be a long process, possibly agonizing.  The story cuts away for a page or two, dealing with other character moments (Jetman receiving word that the Commissioner will be arriving for an inspection is key to the climax of the series) eventually returning to King Peacock, whose trip has been delayed by the very accident at the heart of our tale…


As evening begins to set, Mr. Nebula realizes what is happening, and engages Peregrine in a discussion of faith and after-lives, a discussion that is interrupted when Multi-Woman realizes that the man they thought was an innocent victim is actually not a station porter, but a teleporter, and that his unauthorized transit was what caused the metaphorical pile-up and led to three deaths.

Her response, while harsh, seems understandable…


Again, I love Moore’s dialogue in these panels, as this issue shows us everything we need to know about Cathy Colby as a human being.  We cut away again (there’s no way to show it without becoming a massive list of “Hey, It’s That Guy!”) for a brief sequence following King Peacock through the dimensional transport station that features more cameos than you can reasonably shake a stick at, from Howard The Duck to the Stargate team, serving as a nice palette cleanser for the final pages of the issue.  It also serves as a counterpoint for the journey that Mr. Nebula and Kapela are about to embark on, as night falls…

Fortunately, Kapela has perspective on it all.


And with his explanation, two beings from completely different worlds find common ground and peace…


The first time I read this book, Lieutenant Colby wasn’t the only one tearing up at the final page, as Kapela dies.  And given that the structure of both the genres this comics mixes up (crime procedurals and superhero punch-em-ups) have a strong air of “Death is meaningless”, albeit for different reasons, that is an achievement.  Top Ten #8 has an excellent creative team working at the peak of their powers, delivering a main story that manages to feel genuine and emotionally affecting about the death of a giant horse and a fellow with silly feathers on his head, delivering a final punch that is still hopeful, earning 4.5 out of 5 stars overall.  It stands as one of the strongest single issue stories if it’s decade, and rightfully so…



One of the single strongest issues of the 2000s, with good reason...

User Rating: 3.85 ( 1 votes)

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Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture! And a nice red uniform.

1 Comment

  1. One of the best issues of Top Ten. A final speech so powerful it was lifted/homaged/whathaveyou in True Detective.

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