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Forbidden Love

The return of Top Ten stories is one of the most delightful things to happen during the last few months. I was hypnotized with glee the first time I dove into the adventures of Neopolis and its colorful denizens, and the last few months have rewarded my patience with two new stories: Top 10: Beyond the Farthest Precinct (pretty great, although the art isn't up to the caliber of the original stories) and — sigh — the hardback graphic novel Top 10: The Forty-Niners, the brilliant story of the early days of Neopolis after World War II. It's got Nazis, clunky robots, vampires, comic-strip characters galore, time travel, and...

Jet Lad and Wulf share a tender moment

Jet Man and Wulf, in their later years...and the awfully sweet love story between Wulf, the daring and hunky German air ace, and sixteen-year-old Jet Lad, the pilot prodigy would would grow up to run the Top Ten precinct. When one of the earlier Top Ten stories ended with a very sweet prologue in which Captain Traynor (Jet Man) goes home to Wulf, I was pleasantly surprised about this little detail of the Captain's life. It had a nice connection to the many other elements of the story that dealt with people learning to handle diversity in a crazy world. It was all about whether or not people (or robots, or talking dogs, or whatever) cared about one another, not whether or not the the situations were "normal." Because, of course, what's normal, really, when we're all so different?

The Forty-Niners takes up their story and goes back to when they met, when Traynor was a precocious kid taking his first real steps into adulthood. The story acknowledges the somewhat scandalous age difference between Traynor and Wulf, mostly with periodic references to child-endangerment laws written to crack down on heroes with sidekicks (a nod to the panic that came in the wake of Seduction of the Innocent) that assumed there was always some psychosexual fucked-up-ness in the sidekick dynamic. (As if. Sidekicks kick ass.) Wulf is portrayed, though, as anything but a predatory chickenhawk, and Jet Lad eventually comes to him willingly, and after a fair amount of grappling with his own feelings on the subject (and the requisite attempt to prove to himself he's really straight). It cuts through the pedophilia panic in a tender way and actually makes their feelings for one another part of Traynor's journey to maturity.

Oh, Wulf, you had him at 'Hello'

A solid gay relationship in this case doesn't fit the whole model of "See, we're just like the rest of you so show us some respect," but instead it shows how everyone has to find his own path in life, and then have the courage to go down that path. that’s awesome.

Also, there are robots and Nazis and vampires and great writing and gorgeous art. Swoon!

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