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CSBG Archive

Frantic as a cardiograph scratching out the lines, Day 19: Top 10 #2

Every day this month, I will be examining the first pages of random comics. Today’s page is from Top 10 #2, which was published by America’s Best Comics (which was an imprint of Wildstorm, which at this time was owned by DC) and is cover dated October 1999. Enjoy!

Ass

Alan Moore cares not about easing anyone into his stories! He throws you in and expects you to keep up, consarnit! Top 10, of course, is his wildly entertaining and wacky series about cops patrolling a city where everyone has superpowers. Given the number of comic book Easter eggs that litter this series, the first page of issue #2 (drawn by Gene Ha and Zander Cannon, colored by Wildstorm FX, and lettered by Todd Klein) is remarkably low-key. But Moore gives us plenty of information!

First, the characters’ names. Everyone is named, and we even learn Sung Li’s “superhero name” – Girl One. We find out a bit about their powers – visually, it’s easy to see what Irma’s deal is, but Girl One seems to be quite acrobatic from the request Cherry Bomb asks of her. Ron, Irma’s husband, is unemployed partly because he’s a “precog” – I suppose the layman might not know what a precog is, but anyone who saw Minority Report does (yes, I know the movie came out a few years after this issue). Finally, as they leave the building, we get a nugget of information about something that happened at their precinct, which is of course where most of the action takes place. Despite not being the most exciting page in the world, Moore knows how to give the reader a lot of information fairly effortlessly. It all reads like naturalistic dialogue, not like an “infodumb,” as our own Mr. Nevett might say.

Ha’s page layout isn’t revolutionary, but the world of Top 10 is a fully realized one, and Ha is certainly the right artist for it. Irma and Ron’s old house is under beams holding something up, while giant fans sit right next to the house. Along the street walks a green figure, who looks just alien enough to be noticeable. In the final panel, we see some of the architecture of Neopolis (the city in which the series is set), with floating objects and unusual structures. This leads us to consider the highly detailed background, which shows a cityscape – I’m not sure if Irma and Ron’s house is above those buildings, or if the buildings are there just to show how sprawling Neopolis is, but either way, it’s impressive. Ha doesn’t do much to move our eye across the page, trusting that we’ll simply read this left-to-right, but given the amount of detail not only on this page but throughout the series, I think we can forgive him. He has a lot to do in this series, man!

Next: An Internet fave! In the meantime, you can always give a gander to the archives!

2 Comments

I’m pretty sure Zander Cannon did the layouts, not Gene Ha. Otherwise, great write-up. It really is amazing how effortlessly Alan Moore conveys information without feeling like that’s the purpose of the dialogue.

I can’t remember how Cannon and Ha split up the duties. I think one did backgrounds and one did figure work, but I’m not sure. This is what’s known as the Dave’n'Ger’ method (a la Cerebus).

Look again at how we move across the page in each panel (which I’m assuming Moore “stage directed”). See how in panel 1 Girl One is going towards the left. Imagine the “camera” following behind her and how it “swings around” almost 180 degrees to give us the view of Irma’s house. Then panel 3 swings us around again, and panel 4 swings around yet again (I’m not describing this the best.) Essentially we get 2 (?) full passes around the scene to show us everything in the room and the street.

Notice also how this puts the first speaker in each panel on the left side of the panel, so we don’t trip up reading the word balloons in the wrong order.

Wow. That Alan Moore, he might have some talent!

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