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Top Ten Treats

I’m a sucker for work that slyly works in the pop culture heritage that I’ve absorbed throughout my life. There's a lot of heavy-handed, ironic name-dropping of old TV shows and such out there, but that shit's just weak. What I’m talking about is stuff that has its own story to tell, its own point to make, but shows a certain amount of playful reverence for its direct or indirect source material.

Writer Alan Moore has always been a particular favorite of mine for just this reason. When I first read The Watchmen years ago, it was like a boot to the head to encounter this mature look at the culture of superheroes that drew on the conceits of the genre I knew and examined them in a new light. It was critical and thoughtful and even playful, but most of all it showed a deep love of comics and comic-book culture.

Years later, his series Top Ten gave me another wallop. It wasn't trying to reinvent the medium in quite the same way, but instead it created another world altogether, one based on the idea of a city where generations of costumed crimefighters lived and bred and thrived and crowded the place. It was a fun idea, and a fun story, and I loved it. It was a slower read than most comics, though, because Moore and the series' co-creator Gene Ha packed every panel with so much detail of life in the city of Neopolis that every scene had to be analyzed. They populated the place with new characters, generic supertypes, and all matter of characters from decades worth of comics, movies, and TV, often recolored or recombined in any manner of subtle in-jokes for the nerd crowd. Bliss.

I loved it, but I’d forgotten about what a fun read it was until I grabbed the second volume yesterday and found myself giggling uncontrollably as I digested the artwork again. Here are a few blown-up details. How many characters can you identify?

Top Ten #1 Top Ten #2
Top Ten #3 Top Ten #4
Top Ten #5 Top Ten #6
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