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Top 10: Book One
Alan Moore, Gene Ha
Titan graphic novel £12.99
review by Jeff Young
Precinct ten is a cop shop on an alternative world where everyone is a superhero, with one sort of incredible power or another. That means anything can happen, especially when you're a rookie policewoman and it's your first day on the job. Robyn 'Toybox' Slinger finds herself partnered with sulky blue giant Jeff Smax, and launches into a career of crime fighting in the city of Neopolis that defies easy description, never mind explanation.
Down at the stationhouse, Captain 'Jetman' Traynor (a former boy hero of 1940s) is one of the very few vaguely normal police officers. There's also a cyber-dog desk sergeant named Caesar, lesbian ghost girl Jackie Phantom, electro-charged Shock-headed Peter, hi-tech cowboy Duane Dust Devil, one-woman army Irma Geddon, a Satanist known as King Peacock, and other supporting characters - all of whom have unexpected sides to them. I should remind you at this point that all of the above are cops - and therefore the heroes of this tale. The villains may be even stranger...
This is delightfully wacky satire on the nature of individualism and modern pressures of social conformity. But, what makes it so fascinating, and surprisingly humorous, is the contrasting of seemingly ordinary cri-fi plot points with Alan Moore's extremely witty dialogue, flurries of throwaway puns, and clever background details of the gimmick-laden milieu. Like your average modern TV cop show there are domestic violence issues, kingpin drug dealers, bodies found in dark alleys, shootouts, car chases, sexy hookers, escaped mental patients, rare diseases, plus the usual mix of urban blight, suburban isolation, racism, sexism, expertise and ignorance, prejudice, injustice, and quirky dream sequences.
What's different here is that the predatory lawyer really is a shark in a suit, post-mortems are performed from inside the corpse by Micro-Maid, a serial killer terrorising prostitutes turns out to be a mutant alien of X-Files calibre, interrogations by telepaths are frowned upon, hostage negotiators can control people's minds, and the biggest threat to Neopolis is gigantic drunken lizard, Gograh - a onetime movie star with his own monster series.
In a telling exchange about cops' neighbours - "mine never treat me funny because I'm a science-hero..."
"Mine neither. They just treat me funny because I'm a cop."
Genre crossover comics are rarely more imaginative or relentlessly entertaining than this.
tZ Genre Greats: The Peculiar Genius of Alan Moore - author profile by Patrick Hudson
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