Top 10: The Annotations
Issue 2: Blind Justice
May contain spoilers
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For the uninitiated, these are annotations to the Alan Moore
, Gene Ha and Zander Cannon
comic book Top 10
, published by America's Best Comics
. It's an imaginative look at a city populated entirely by superheroes and the difficulties that the (equally superpowered) police have in maintaining order. Each issue is full of references to comic books and popular culture and this series of annotations hopes to capture them all. Please note that where references are repeated in several issues (eg. the Robbie the Robot computers in Precinct 10), they will only be identified in the issue containing their first appearance.
Given the level of detail that the creators put into this comic, these annotations will probably be continually updated. If you spot anything I've missed, let me know! You'll get credit.
This page may not display properly in the browser Opera; some of the annotations come unstuck from the page headers. It works okay in IE though. If anyone knows a way around this please get in touch.
The cover recreates a scene from later on in the comic; the body is that of Shirley "Immune Girl" Dorfman, a prostitute who becomes a victim of the Libra killer, Neopolis' resident serial killer.
Note that the Top 10 logo is supposed to look like the tape that police use to cordon off crime scenes.
This issue's tagline, "Keep Moving. Nothing to See Here" is the standard TV cop's line when moving pedestrians on from a crime scene.
Note that Irma guesses it's Li at the door before her precognitive husband. Ron's powers are implied to be questionable during the start of the series, but he puts them to use in issue 9.
This panel extends down to the bottom of the page, showing that the Wornows live high above the rest of the city. I wish I could see the original version of this panel before the others were laid on top of it.
Anyone recognise the green alien to the left?
This is the first time we see Irma's home and family. The girl on the left is Cherry "Cherry Bomb" Wornow (powers unknown - but it looks like she's inherited her mother's interest in guns and explosives). A cherry bomb is a small firecracker favoured by Bart Simpson.
The girl on the left is "Cerebra" Wornow. She has presumably inherited her father's precognitive (future-seeing) abilities. The name Cerebra is a female version of Cerebro, the name of Professor X's mutant-seeking supercomputer in Marvel's X-men comics.
The man is Ron Wornow, Irma's husband. As mentioned above, he has the ability to foresee future events. We'll get a glimpse of this power in issue nine.
Note the crystal ball on the right of the screen. Crystal balls are a somewhat cliched method of seeing into the future, though Ron (and presumably Cerebra) doesn't need them. Maybe someone bought it as a joke?
The comic on the floor beneath Cherry's speech bubble is "Nixon's Plumbers". Presumably the Nixon of the title is crook and former president Richard Nixon. In real life, Nixon's plumbers were aides given the task of illegally tapping people's phones and bugging their houses and hotel rooms. They were caught bugging the Democratic National Committe in the Watergate hotel. The idea of superheroes being amazed by, and reading comics about, mundane humans is an old joke. One of the most famous is the "Bicycle Repair Man" sketch from Monty Python's Flying Circus in which a country full of superheroes venerate the bicycle repair man, a dull middle-aged fellow in a cloth cap.
I've almost sent myself blind trying to read the title of the magazine below Irma's knees. Can anyone with eagle eyes actually tell me what it says?
"The Gov" comic near Cerebra might be a reference to DC's offbeat "Prez", a short-lived comic about America's first teenage President of the USA. Prez debuted in 1973 with "The Making of the Prez" and ended four issues later with the excellently-titled "Vampires in the White House!" Why don't they make comics like that any more? Oh yeah - sales. The Prez made a handful of cameo appearances before being given the starring role in an issue 58 of The Sandman, in which it was revealed that he was lost in the Crisis on Infinite Earths. A Vertigo one-shot about the Prez's son ("The Prez: Smells Like Teen Spirit) followed in the late 90s but that's the last we've heard of him. Shame. He was far hipper than current president Lex Luthor.
"Precog" is short for precognitive (as well as being a user). The only time I remember reading this exact phrase was in Philip K Dick's Minority Report, which was made into a movie that completely missed the whole point of the story by changing the ending.
That's a Superman doll hanging from the windscreen.
The three road workers to the left are apparently Jacks of all trades - they can be seen helping rebuild Precinct 10 in issue 11 (although they are coloured differently in that issue).
The one on the left is a version of Swamp Thing, the "moss-encrusted mockery of a man" whose reinvention by Alan Moore is seen by many as the genesis of the modern American comic book. This version is carrying a "slow" sign - possibly a reference to Swampy's slow speech and thought patterns, and the plodding way he moves. This version also looks a little bit like Moore himself.
The middle one would look like Ben Grimm, The Thing from the Fantastic Four, if he was orange instead of green.
No idea who the blue guy on the right is. He looks familiar but I can't place him...
The cab in the background signals the return of Bob "Blindshot" Booker, the blind Zen taxi driver.
The writing on Irma's chest plate (which disappears between panels, much like the writing on her helmet) reads "BUT I FEAR MY GOVERNMENT". The full phrase is "I love my country but I fear my Government", in-keeping with Irma's characterisation as a libertarian gun-nut. That she's a member of a government organisation is just confusing. We'll see the writing in its entirety later this issue.
Charon, the guy to the left, is one of the pathologists at Precinct 10. This is his only appearance. He seems to be wearing a visor similar to that of Star Trek's Geordi LaForge. In Greek mythology, Charon was the ferryman of the dead.
The title is a reference to the concept of justice being "blind" to the social, financial and racial differences between the accused brought up before her. In this instance it's also a reference to Bob Booker's unusual talents, which will serve a purpose later this issue.
Charon's suit reminds me of the exoskeleton worn by one of the bad guys in underrated sci-fi comedy Inner Space.
The definitions and etymologies of these drugs were discussed last issue.
Peregrine's remark is, of course, a reference to the fact that Kemlo Caesar is a dog in a robotic body.
Nice to see super-kids are just as brutal in Neopolis as they are in real life. I should probably recognise these brats, but I don't. Anyone?
The Blue Streak was a 1940s trapieze-artist-turned- Superhero in Headline comics. With a name like that, I would have expected some kind of nudism going on. It's also the name of a Martin Lawrence movie released in the same year as Top 10's early issues, though I sincerely doubt that was the inspiration.
Graffiti, top left (green): "Diana", possibly a reference to the real name of Wonder Woman.
Graffiti, middle left (yellow): "Mustand" - a reference to obscure indie book Mustand Seeds Comics?
Graffiti, right of centre (red): "Pork the other..." partially obscured by cop car. Should finish "white meat". Note picture of pig in cop uniform; "pig" is a derogatory synonym for police officer. Does this mean there are cop-munching baddies around here?
Graffiti, right of centre (red, yellow, green): "(star) 5" - a tag for the Fabulous Five gang, of whom there are more than fifty members. There's Fab Five graffiti all over the next few panels.
Graffiti, top far-right (yellow): "V for Ventur..." Ventura? Venture? No idea what the last word is or why, but the slogan itself is a reference to Moore's classic V for Vendetta, soon to be a film by the Wachowski Brothers.
Martian Machines. No idea what this is a reference to, if anything.
RX-MNN Pharmacy. Possibly a reference to the X-Men? But I'm guessing it's something more interesting than that.
Graffiti, top far-left (pink): "Bacon/Porkin" (overlapped). More anti-cop graffiti and another picture of a pig in cop uniform.
Graffiti, top centre (orange): "Neop... ...zt". Wonder what that says?
Graffiti, top far-right (green): "...uck ...lice" - obviously supposed to read "Fuck the police". Fuck tha Police was a track by rap group N.W.A., which sort of makes sense since this is supposed to be one of the ghettoised areas of Neopolis.
Ernesto Gograh's back, but now he's got friends. It was established last issue that his dad attacked Neopolis in the 50s (when the Godzilla movies were first made), so it's interesting to note that the leather jacket look the Fabulous Five are all sporting is very 1950s. Can't figure out if his werewolf friend is a reference to anything, though. Is he supposed to represent 50s horror movies? And the robot could be 50s science fiction, I suppose, but what about the elf guy on the far left?
The "Power Kosmik" sign is a reference to The Power Cosmic that transformed an ordinary alien into the Silver Surfer.
Graffiti, top middle (light blue): "M. Malla... gives g... he...". Should read "M. Mallah gives good head", a reference to a pair of villains from the Doom Patrol. Monsieur Mallah is a genius ape whose partner in crime is a sentient brain named... er... the Brain. Obviously the "good head" line is both a reference to blow jobs and the Brain himself.
Graffiti, bottom middle (purple): "Ultrama...", a reference to Ultraman, the Japanese 'big robots' TV show that featured Godzilla-like giant monsters.
There's an ad behind Ernesto's head for "Red K". This drink was mentioned in the first issue.
The Thing from the Fantastic Four is stood in the background.
S.T.O.R.M.S = AIDS. Subtle, eh? This foreshadows the man's eventual fate.
The girl wiping her mouth (having presumably just fellated a punter) is Shirley "Immune Girl" Dorfman, whose body is on the cover. Her power is, obviously, immunity to any kind of disease.
The punter is Andy "Airbag" Soames, a recurring character. His power is to inflate like a puffer fish when stressed.
Note the way Peter's head goes transparent when he uses his powers.
The sign reflected in the car's window promises "Exotic Robots/Topless Goddesses". Given the population of Neopolis, I'm not sure how literally to take that last bit.
Ophidia and April Showers were picked up for soliciting by Pete and Duane last issue.
"Two-way alien combos"? Think about that.
"See Invisible Girls Live on the Big Stage" - funniest gag of the issue. Invisible Girl is a member of the Fantastic Four.
The Replacement God is a comic book by Top 10 artist Zander Cannon.
The balding stretchy guy who's crashed his car in the bottom left of the panel is Doctor Trent "Dr Incredible" Teller, the wife-beater who appeared last issue. He'll appear again in issue eleven.
The big giant head things look like variations on Marvel's MODOK - basically just a big psychotic head on a floating chair.
No idea about the Church of the Hole in the Ground. In Moore's League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Volume II, a prose section charting the history of the League recalls an expedition into a strange hole somewhere in Oxford (the same one that Alice fell down to reach Wonderland). Maybe this is a reference to that?
Unless Sgt. Hernandez has an unusually feminine voice, this joke just doesn't work.
The octopus at the top of the screen is a very literal interpretation of Spider-man bad guy Doctor Octopus.
The back of the cyborg on the left reads "Kilz 4 Kix". The I in each word looks just like the I in the Image Comics logo.
I get the feeling I should know the jagged, four-armed monster in the background there. Anyone recognise him?
The guy walking through the door is Harry "The Word" Lovelace. He's Top 10's hostage negotiator. When he chooses to, he can use the power of his voice to force people to do what he says - whether this is innate or because of the metal guard covering his mouth is unnknown. This is almost certainly inpired by Preacher, whose main character - Jesse Custer - is imbued with the same power, which he calls "The Word of God". For both Custer and Lovelace, the power manifests itself in red-coloured writing. A Jesse Custer variation appears in issue 11.
The woman with the lotus on her head is Officer Jenny "Multi-Girl" McCambridge. She has the power to split herself into several different bodies, each with its own power. A friend of mine says that the symbols visible up her spine are six of the seven chakras, with the seventh being the lotus crown on her head. The chakras are nerve centres - nodes, if you like - for spiritual energy. As one opens up the Chakras, the energy passes up the spine (hence the placement of the symbols on Jenny). She can split off her chakras to create copies of herself with different colours and powers. Purple Multi-Girl can fly, Blue Multi-girl is a giant, Red Multi-girl can create fire, yellow Multi-girl is a speedster. We'll see her in action in issue six.
There are colours associated with the chakras which don't seem to have been entirely well reproduced on Jenny so we'll miss them out. From top to bottom, the chakras are:
1: The Crown, symbolised by the thousand petaled lotus); connects each person to the universe, hence the pretty soul stuff pouring out of the crown her head.
2: The Third Eye; allows one to sense those parts of the universe which are not picked up by the standard five senses (symbolised on Jenny by an eye symbol on her head).
3: Throat; communication of emotions, sense of hearing (symbolised by a circle in a triangle).
4: Heart; emotional management, creation of love, aesthetic appreciation channeled (symbolised by a Star of David-looking thing).
5: Solar Plexus; personality formed from mixing of spiritual and mundane sensation (symbolised by a downward-pointing triangle).
6: Lower Abdomen; centre for sexual energy and raw emotion (symbolised by a circle in another circle).
7: Root; connection to the real world and real world concerns (symbolised by a triangle in a circle).
Kemlo's eating out of a doggy bowl. Cute.
North Hockney? A reference to artist David Hockney, perhaps, although I'm not aware of any connection with the comic book world. Since it's supposed to be near Noho (see below), it's probably also a reference to Hackney, an area of London.
As MojoJojo points out, a bloody mary is a type of cocktail. Bloody Mary is also the name of a pair of comic book miniseries by Garth Ennis and Carlos Ezquerra released under DC's Helix imprint. In usual Ennis style, it's about an action-hero nun.
"Noho" is Neopolis' version of London's Soho, which used to be full of prostitutes and is now full of media whores.
In the 1990s, the comic book industy enjoyed a massive boost in profile and sales - comics were selling in the millions, books like The Sandman were achieving critical acclaim and the guys from Image Comics were appearing on MTV. But the "quantity not quality" output of greedy comic-book companies (dozens of alternate covers and no story inside any of them) drove away the genuine readers so that the only people actually buying comics were speculators hoping to make millions from the crap they were snapping up. Once they realised that the market was going nowhere, they left and the circulation of comics dropped immensely. In the world of Top 10, the circulation wars are obviously more literal - this guy lost the flow of blood to his legs and so had to have them amputated.
A reference to famous but dull porno movie Debbie Does Dallas.
The body, of course, is that of Immune Girl, whom Pete let go towards the start of the issue.
Note Shakespeare with the backward cap at the desk. He appears a few times in the background throughout the series.
A sign on the noticeboard says "No beam weapons in the mechanics" - I have no idea what this is a reference to, if anything.
The Buddha nature is supposed to be present in all sentient things, a power which allows for the eventual attainment of true enlightenment. This would suggest that Bob's cab is alive. However, according to this, asking whether something has the Buddha nature negates the Buddha nature. No, I don't get it either.
The Zen koan "If a tree falls in a forest, and nobody's around, does it make a sound?" asks the student to consider the possibility that unless one is directly experiencing something, it does not actually exist. One might wonder how, if things only exist when we percieve them, there can be a tree to fall or ground to fall on without anyone nearby. Anyway, that's Bob's excuse for driving poorly.
Can anyone identify Bob's first quote? I don't think that's a real koan...
The full version is "If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him" - that is, if one meets someone claiming to have knowledge and wisdom, ignore him because true wisdom and enlightenment can only come from within.
Note that the "Super-heroic" is a modern era in Top 10's world.
Graffiti, bottom far-right (black): "Who Watches The Simpsons?" A reference to Moore's Watchmen, in which an anti-superhero movement adopts a translation of the phrase "Quis custodiet ipsos custodes" - "Who watches the watchmen?". The Top 10 version may be commenting on the quality of the TV series The Simpsons, which had by all accounts turned pretty bad by 1999.
We'll be seeing Ultra-Mice in a few issues' time.
Syn is making reference to the well-known koan "What is the sound of one hand clapping?" The answer is to silently thrust one palm forward. I'm guessing it means something like, "if there is no sound then the pursuit of an answer is the pursuit of nothing, therefore the question is meaningless. All attempts to query and quantify the universe are pointless and get in the way of simply experiencing it." That seems to be the answer to most koans.
This is a museum showing some of the Nazi supervillains of the second world war. Presumably some of these helped build Neopolis.
"Herr Panzer" - "Mr Tank". Panzers were the tanks of choice for the German forces during World War II.
"Sturm and Drang" - literally "Storm and Stress", named after the "sturm und drang" literary movement in mid-18th century Germany that emphasised the stress and friction between emotional man and restrictive contemporary society. I bet they were Goths.
"The Iron Mask". Not sure what this references. Presumably not The Man in the Iron Mask, since he was supposed to be French. It kind of reminds me of Captain America's enemy the Red Skull, who was also a super-Nazi.
Robyn's Chieftains are named after the old British Army tanks of the same name.
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http://world.altavista.com/ - Babelfish Translation
http://www.adelaidecomicsandbooks.com/powercosmic.htm - The Power Cosmic
http://www.toonopedia.com/ - Don Markstein's Toonopedia
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buddha-nature - Buddha Nature
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sturm_und_Drang - Sturm und Drang