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Top Ten: The Forty-Niners (Top 10) Paperback – March 22, 2006

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Retro-futuristic art meets postwar expansionism and superhero psychology in this tour-de-force graphic novel. It's a prequel to the often hilarious Top 10 series, which followed the cases of the police force in Neopolis, a city populated entirely by people with superpowers who are as petty, selfish and drunk and disorderly as normal humans. In The Forty-Niners, we see the Neopolis Police Department's early days attempting to bring order to a new city created just to contain the "science heroes" on both sides of WWII. Among the problems: German skull-masked ne'er-do-wells who have some secret plan afoot, and a gang of vampires who have taken over as the mob, running the prostitution franchise and shaking down bar owners. Moore (Watchmen; From Hell) has sketched the entire pecking order of this fantastic world and the wistful nature of the superhero diaspora. "You're gonna have a lot of feelings you ain't had before," warns the mayor of the super city. "Feelin' ordinary. Feelin' uesless. Feelin' like you're in the world's biggest freak show." Moore's boundless imagination dazzles as it reinvents the archetypes of religion, mythology and comic books. Ha's subtle, fluid watercolor-like art is equally rich in background sight gags, making this a book to savor. (Aug.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Top Ten was a 12-issue series often described as "Hill Street Blues with superheroes." Set in futuristic Neopolis, where the residents all have superpowers and a colorful, costumed constabulary maintains order, The Forty-Niners is the prequel to the series set in 1949, when extrapowered humans from both sides of World War II relocated to a city new-built for them. Among them are 16-year-old ace pilot Steve Traynor, who flew under the name of Jetlad, and his former enemy Leni Muller, the Skywitch. Steve (who is to become Neopolis' police captain) casts his lot with the city air force, while Leni joins the fledgling police department. Obstructing the effort to found a city are vampire gangsters and former Nazi scientists. The concept is shrewd and imaginative, and Moore's deft plotting, artful characterization, and dead-on dialogue make this flashback more impressive than the series that spawned it, though it wouldn't be half as convincing without Ha's intricate, realistic artwork. Gordon Flagg
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Series: Top 10
  • Paperback: 112 pages
  • Publisher: WildStorm (March 22, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1401205739
  • ISBN-13: 978-1401205737
  • Product Dimensions: 6.6 x 0.2 x 10.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #926,980 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Harvey H. Meeker on August 7, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Top Ten: The Forty Niners takes us back to the very beginnings of Neopolis the setting for all the previous Top Ten books (except for most of SMAX). The city of Neopolis was chosen by the government as the place to corral the abundance of super-heroes and villains that appeared during and after World War II.

The Forty Niners is really the story of Steve Traynor aka Jetlad and Leni Muller aka Sky Witch and the new start they make in Neopolis. Traynor is a character that fans of Top Ten will recognize as the modern series chief of police in Neopolis. In this book he is sixteen and fresh out of World War II.

The two characters meet up at the beginning of the book on the train to Neopolis and after that Moore successfully weaves the book around their two stories. Leni becomes a police officer with the fledgling police force of Neopolis, while Steve joins the local air guard as a plane mechanic. Both of their narratives tell us a lot about Neopolis at the time of its founding.

Part of what makes the story so successful is the fantastic artwork by Gene Ha. The little details he puts into each panel really help to bring the story to life. The subdued coloring by Art Lyon definitely gives the book a historical feel, if that makes any sense, and it also allows the little details in Ha's artwork to filter through.

The packaging of the book is very well done. The wraparound dustjacket cover art is fantastic and the inside covers also contain more renderings of the characters from the book. There is also a bookmark ribbon in the binding of the book.

Overall, I would recommend this book to just about any comic book fan or graphic novel fan. It will certainly make you want to read the other Top Ten books if you haven't already.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Rodney Meek VINE VOICE on November 10, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Imagine, if you will, a world filled to overflowing with superheroes, supervillains, and supercivilians, all brimming over with superpowers, and all brought together to live in one city, Neopolis. And then imagine that the Earth of Neopolis is just but one of an infinite number of parallel versions scattered throughout the multiverse--and that dimensional travel from one reality to another is cheap and easy. So, on top of the superfolk, you have aliens, magicians, robots, time travelers, sword-swinging fantasy warriors, talking animals, and more. All of whom have to earn a living, whether that means driving a cab, manning the receptionist desk, working the deli counter, or trying to eradicate pesky infestations of mega-mice. This is Alan Moore's world of Top 10.

Top 10 is a comic book title that is released in fitful outbursts as loosely connected miniseries. Thus far, it has been collected in two softcover collections and the "Smax" spinoff (highly recommended). There is currenty a "five years after" miniseries moving to a conclusion on the newsstands, but it's the first non-Moore-written installment, and it's a tad overambitious and unfocussed.

"The Forty-Niners" steps back a few years back to 1949 to show us the founding of Neopolis in the wake of the conclusion of a World War II that seems to have ended a little later than our version. And of course, this variation of the global conflict featured dueling American and German masked avengers, science heroes, and flying superaces. Arriving in the city, just beginning its transformation to a "gee whiz!" metropolis filled with epic architecture and bizarre skyscrapers, are the youthful Steve Traynor, the former Jet Lad, and Leni Muller, the reformed Sky Witch who fought on the side of the Nazis before switching sides in '43.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By B. G. Rood on May 25, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I am afraid to say that the Booklist review listed here is very wrong... This 6-part story is not superior to the original 'Top Ten' books.

While Gene Ha's artwork is fantastic, the one that doesn't come to the show this time is Alan Moore. It's all too crammed, half-baked and without the feeling that 'Top Ten' had. As inventive as some of the elements are, ultimately the writing of the characters and their dialogue is like weak tea compared to what Moore is capable of. It just all feels rushed - a story with a massive world like this needs more time given to it, both in the amount of pages (there's half what there should be) and from Moore himself.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Raymond M. Rose on April 20, 2006
Format: Paperback
It is a rarety in the world of comics where the artwork and the writing is as equally good. And when you're talking about someone of Moore's caliber, it's even rarer. Well, Top Ten is one of those occasions. I loved the first series. I loved Ha's artwork and Moore's play on comic history and his characters and their interaction with each other. Top Ten was pure fun and, at times, heart wrenching genius.

The Forty-Niners goes beyond that! God, this was really good. It's to be read slowly. Ha's work is ten-times better than anything he's ever done and every page is chockfull of just amazing detail and fantastic artwork. The full spreads and long panels of the city are breathtaking. The only artist I've ever seen come close such amazing pages is Katsuhiro Otomo while he was doing Akira.

Moore's writing is stupendous. He has a way of getting into each character and just letting them breathe and talk and walk. This is a great look at men and women returning home from war to a world that's changed. This is fun science fiction and fun comic book stories. But at it's heart, which is a big thing for Moore, this is a story about people. And Moore, for his crazy looks and crazier ideas, gets how complex people are.

Top Ten: The Forty-Niners is a true graphic novel. It's just simply wonderful.
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