November 29, 2005

This City, Full of Lunatics in Bathing Suits

I have to admit, a lot of Alan Moore's post-Watchmen superhero work has been hit or miss for me. The times when he seems to be having fun with the genre - like 1963 (available in back issue bins), League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, or his run on Supreme - really engage me. However, much of his work at America's Best Comics (with the exception of Greyshirt) has left me cold - it's not that I don't see the merit/talent/worth; I just can't get into it as much.

Which is why I was pleasantly suprised that I enjoyed Top 10: The Forty-Niners so much - it's not that I dislike Top 10; this "prequel" has so much atmosphere, strong writing, and cool art, that it's difficult not to enjoy it.

Brief summary - it's 1949, after the end of World War 2. On a train, two former enemies (one who switched sides) meet, and soon find themselves in Neopolis - a city designed to contain all of the "science heroes" who emerged during the war. This book follows a period of time in a place where super-powered beings are the norm, rather than the exception; vampires run the local mafia, and robots are considered a "minority". This is a book about prejudices, stereotypes, and moving beyond prescribed norms - trust it to Mr. Moore to place it in an interesting story.

The book also has some nice fannish touches - some obvious (Doctor Omega), some not-so-obvious. Rather than the wink-and-a-nudge touch that plagues some books (like Supreme Power or The Authority), it is subtle, and only serves to move the story forward. Gene Ha's art also helps - giving it a slight bit of realism that helps create a world that is equal parts Justice League, LA Confidential and 87th Precinct.

If you're looking for a decent stocking stuffer - or someone wants to know what they can get you that isn't socks and/or underwear, suggest this book. Trust me, friends - you'll like it.

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