cover image Top 10: The Forty-Niners

Top 10: The Forty-Niners

Alan Moore, . . DC/America's Best Comics, $24.99 (112pp) ISBN 978-1-56389-757-3

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.)