SPIDER-MANDATE: The Lowe-down on "Secret Wars," Tie-Ins and Stacey Lee
93. “Top 10 Season 1″ by Alan Moore, Gene Ha and Zander Cannon (Top 10 #1-12) – 112 points (2 first place votes)
One of writer Alan Moore’s “high concept” comics, Top 10 was about a police precinct (the tenth, natch) in a city where everybody was a superhero – the cops, the crooks and the civilians (even the cats and mice had powers!).
Once you get past the main concept, the book was almost exactly like a comic book form of the television series Hill Street Blues, where each issue would work like an episode of the show. The show tended to dwell upon the cops themselves and less the procedural aspect of the situation, and that is exactly the same with Top 10 (Daniel Travanti, the actor who did such a marvelous job as the Captain of the Hill Street Precinct, described the show as “A character drama where every character happened to work for the police in some form or capacity”).
Alan Moore developed a large cast of interesting characters and then threw them together into an engaging mix of characters. Here’s an example…
Meanwhile, layout artist Zander Cannon and and penciler and inker Gene Ha were right there with Moore – just as much part of the book as, say, Kevin O’Neill was part of League of Extraordinary Gentlemen or JH Williams was part of Promethea. This was a true collaboration. Cannon, particularly, would add little in-jokes in the panels (Moore, too, would have little in-jokes frequently in the script, but Cannon would add even more).
Once you’ve accepted the series as “Hill Street Blues but everyone is a superhero,” then you can see how Moore deftly works in a lot of the same topics that Hill Street hit on, like racism, only he does so with the racism being against, say, robots.
In any event, it’s a really strong first “season” (see the TV influence even there?), and it is a shame that Moore never did more, but at least Cannon and Ha later did some follow-up work with the characters!
92. “New World Order” by Grant Morrison, Howard Porter and John Dell (JLA #1-4) – 115 points (1 first place vote)
Grant Morrison’s JLA was perhaps THE most influential superhero book of the 1990s, as it influenced even the Authority (the widescreen aspect, at least).
“New World Order” was the first story arc of the “brand new” JLA, which consisted of the seven original members of the Justice League, or at least the seven superhero names of the original Justice League, as the Green Lantern and the Flash were both the successors of the characters who had formed the Justice League.
In this initial storyline, a group of aliens come to Earth and seemingly make the Justice League obsolete. The League knows that there is something up with these aliens, and soon discover that, yep, there are some sinister motivations going on behind these guys.
The secret behind the aliens is very clever, and it is especially notable how Batman discovers their secret (and how he exploits it).
This story first established Morrison’s take on Batman as the guy who prepares for everything (or “Bat God,” as some people refer to it)…
The other heroes in the book get notable scenes, as well, especially the Flash, who uses some of the knowledge the original Flash gave him to take down a villain.
The art by Howard Porter and John Dell is slick and apt for the sometimes over the top action of the book.
This series quickly became the most successful title for DC in the late 1990s, which was notable because the Justice League line of books had gotten pretty low in the sales charts before this title revitalized the group.
The “widescreen” tone of this book was soon picked up by many other books, including The Authority.
91. “The Man of Steel” by John Byrne and Dick Giordano (The Man of Steel #1-6) – 116 points
John Byrne and Dick Giordano relaunched the Superman mythos in this excellent mini-series that re-establishes the entire Superman mythos ahead of the Superman titles all relaunching with a new status quo. What was so shocking about Byrne’s reboot was how much he kept the same. When you think about the reaction to Byrne’s changes at the time and then look at the 2011 Superman reboot? It’s like apples and oranges! Superman and his supporting cast were largely the same, with the biggest changed being Lex Luthor now as a respected businessman. There was never a Superboy, Krypton was a cold and desolate place, Superman was no longer “born” until he landed on Earth and Jonathan and Martha Kent still being alive with Clark as an adult. Clark Kent, I suppose, also saw a change as he was no longer so mild-mannered but there Byrne was more about returning to the original Clark Kent, who was not quite as mild-mannered as later interpretations would have him become. In each of the six issues, Byrne re-established some part of the Superman status quo. #1 saw Clark gaining his powers for the first time, #2 introduced us to Lois Lane, #3 has Superman and Batman meet for the first time, #4 introduced us to Lex Luthor, #5 gave us Bizarro and #6 had Clark learn about his Kryptonian heritage.
It is difficult to pick out a representative sequence, so instead I’ll pick out four notable pages.
First, after Lois Lane gets her first interview with Superman, she is disturbed to find out she has been scooped by a mysterious stranger…
Superman’s first meeting with Batman did not go over so well…
In one of my favorite pages of the series, Lois Lane shows that she cannot be bought…
Finally, in the last page of the series, Superman reflects upon his newly acquired knowledge of the history of his home planet…
Okay, that’s it for #100-91! Check back soon for #90-86!
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