Current Reviews


Top Ten: Beyond the Farthest Precinct #1

Posted: Saturday, August 20, 2005
By: Ray Tate

Writer: Paul Di Filippo
Artists: Jerry Ordway(p), Wendy Broome(c)

Paul Di Filippo is a horror and science fiction writer of no mean talent, but that doesn't necessitate he would do justice to Alan Moore's super-cops in Top Ten. Not to worry. He does.

I could not really hear any difference between the voices of Di Filippo's characters and Moore's characters. Jackie Phantom speaks and behaves the same. The volatile Shock-Headed Pete is just as testy as he was in Moore's original series. Satanist King Peacock, arguably the least easily to characterize, sounds just as weird and ironically as noble as he usually does. Wanda who "suffers" from and takes her code name from synaesthesia is the only character who doesn't speak quite as potently as Moore's original, but that's only because Moore is a poet as well as a writer of prose. Di Filippo does however ably step up to the challenge with "cinnamon hell" being particularly notable.

After reading Beyond The Farthest Precinct before long it seemed that Moore's original series never went on hiatus. Di Filippo even picks up some of Moore's plot threads. Robin, once the newcomer to the Tenth Precinct, now bears a little more weight. Di Filippo even has her seeking out the mysterious Rumor. As you read, it all comes back to you. Part of the reason is due to Moore's ability to craft worlds that resonate. Part of the reason is that Di Filippo knows what he's doing.

Di Filippo's plot begins at an innocuous Top Ten picnic. Fascinating is how the characters behave. They don't react like traditional super-heroes. They react like police officers. Traditional super-heroes--with the probable exception of Batman--would have been flying at the thing in the sky. Instead, the officers wait for things to cool down, gather their forces after a good night's sleep and intend to investigate, find the cause and determine whether or not the thing in the sky is a threat.

I don't envy Jerry Ordway. His artwork no matter how impressive will be compared to that of Gene Ha, and that's simply not fair. Ordway's and Ha's styles bear no similarity. It's only fair to compare Ordway's artwork here in Top Ten with his previous forays, and I'm happy to say that Ordway meets my expectations, which were very high.

All the characters look realistically like people in uniforms--or in the case of Kemlo dogs in people dress. Ordway's pencils and inks are without flaw. He creates the illusion of texture and Clicker shine. Crowd scenes do not faze him, and his layout and sense of space provide an aesthetic that would be difficult for another artist to match. Perhaps, the only big difference you can see in the artwork is that there are more Marvel references in Ordway's work than obscurities from comic book ages past, which were seen in Gene Ha's panels. Still, Linda Turner, the original Black Cat motors along, and favorite Top Ten cameo subjects the Lone Ranger, Tonto, Green Hornet and Kato can still be annotated, no doubt by Jess Nevins already at fevered work.

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