Page 45 Review by Stephen
Collecting the two original volumes but not TOP TEN: FORTY-NINERS.
TOP TEN is a meticulously directed police precinct comedy drama in which several bizarre law enforcement officers including a talking doberman in an exoskeleton attempt to solve several crimes at once, some of them linked, some of them not. Everyone and every thing in this world has a superpower no matter how ridiculous, including cats which is just as well because so do the mice: when you get an infestation, believe you me, you get a real infestation.
Whilst gliding you through the precinct's chaos as officers criss-cross the lobby, Alan Moore packs this series with imagination, style and top-notch gags in the form of graffiti, advertisements, background cameos and full-on confrontations. Some are lobbed in the direction of comics, others thrown wider at various forms of popular culture from boybands to drugs to pretentious spirituality like Blindshot Bob, the visually impaired zen taxi-driver.
"Where we end up, that's where we're meant to be!" he gleefully proclaims, steering straight into the path of an on-coming juggernaut.
"This precinct house... is it far?"
"Hey, all distance is as nothing in the mind of the Buddha, know what I'm sayin'? We'll be there in about ten minutes...depending on traffic!"
Like the rest of the ABC line it's a great deal cleverer than it looks, as is the art which manages some extraordinary feats of scale and perspective in this futuristic city. Finest punchline award goes to officer Smax, who barges into the scene of a brutal murder in a bar catering exclusively for Norse Gods:
"Okay, we're police officers. Nobody move in a mysterious way!"
As ever, Moore's more interested in poking fun by mixing genres and using the set-up to comment on whatever crops up. Lest we forget, it's the tenth anniversary this week of the racist murder of Stephen Lawrence [this was written in April 2003 - ed.], the investigation into which was condemned by Macpherson as hampered by institutional racism. The existence of which surprised absolutely no one that I'm acquainted with.
In this futuristic city bigotry remains rife it's just changed targets so when an Artificial Intelligence joins the force he has a hard time from within, particularly at the hands of Officer Cheney who's been making snide 'clicker' references throughout the series, much to his partner's irritation. Which brings us to one of my favourite put-downs in comics as Pete Cheney attempts to grab a candy bar from the public dispenser up against the wall:
"Hell, I ain't no clicker-licker. Lemme get my candy-bar, okay?"
"This is about the new guy?"
"Jacks, he was great. We're there three minutes, crime solved, perp in the car."
"Damn robots, man. Just after our jobs. Not only that, I hear they like, y'know, human women."
"Uh-huh. Yeah, well, I can see how you'd find that a bewildering concept."
"Pete, robots and women, that only happens in your porno collection...."
"Yeah? Well here's the tin man himself. Why don't I ask him?"
"Pete, don't be an asshole, man..."
"Hey, Officer Pie-Tin, is that right about you guys and human women? Y'know, how you can't keep your pincers off 'em?"
"That's an interesting QUESTION, Officer Cheney. As far as I know, it's much more common for HUMANS to be sexually aroused by MACHINES than the other way round."
"Huh? That's a lot of crap! Where's your evidence?"
...asks Cheney, reaching into the candy-bar dispenser slot
"Well, with respect, I should point out that YOU'RE the one who's feeling up my retarded hillbilly cousin EMMY-SUE in public."
"Emmy-Sue, it breaks my clockwork heart to see you lowering yourself like this. Cover yourself up, girl, and we'll say no more about it."
"What? What's funny? Hey, screw you, Bodine! Think this is so goddam funny, laughin' like a little idiot kid! Damn, I gotta go wash my hand!"