Top 10 'The Forty-Niners'
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Wr. Alan Moore
Ill. Gene Ha

I hold in my hands the latest tale from the quintessential comic book creator, Alan Moore. He needs no introduction and every comic book fan/reader out there at some point should have read something by this enigmatic creator. But if you haven't, the titles "Watchmen" and "League of Extraordinary Gentleman", are some of the best timeless literary (yes, literary) classics around. And perhaps if you followed his more recent exploits in the industry, you know of the ABC line from which titles like Tom Strong and Top Ten were birthed. The Forty Niners is set within the world of Top Ten right after the end of World War II.

If you are not familiar with Top Ten, to give you a gist of some of the goings on in the world, everything is set within a metropolitan like city filled with strange creatures, beings, and superheroes. And if I am not mistaken, the main focus is on the characters with the city's police department as they try to answer the question of "Who polices super powered beings in a world of super powered beings?" With that said, Top Ten was easily the best and most charismatic of the newer Alan Moore titles, and the cream of the ABC line. It is no wonder it won so many awards and garnered the highest accolades.

Top Ten The Forty-Niners by Alan Moore and Gene Ha.The title was of course powered by Alan Moore's ever strange scripts and the hyper detailed artwork of Gene Ha. The two re-teamed for this hardcover, but unfortunately, it is Gene Ha that steals Alan Moore's thunder. If it is even humanly possible, coupled with the fantastic colors (courtesy of Art and Lyon) and inks, Gene Ha's artwork is the most accomplished and beautifully rendered as ever. Quite frankly it is on par, if not better, with Greg Lands' Phoenix End Song work and Jim Lee's Batman/Superman. Somehow he has become a George Perez, Phil Jimenez, Jay Anacleto fusion with his own genuine spice. His people differ from face to face and look exceptionally human, and unlike most artists, very lifelike. And I swear that artists somehow major in Architecture, because I have never seen buildings drawn with such a phenomenal amount of life.

So then, what about the story? Surely, it cannot be that Alan Moore for once has been bested by his artist companion, but I believe for the first time ever...he has. The story lacks a lot of flow and spirit that usual Alan Moore tales have. Instead of the usual meditating plot and anti cut throat dialogue that mainly leads the outcomes of his stories, much of it has been lost within these pages. Alan Moore, presenting us with the characters that were mentioned in the future of the Top Ten titles, and current volumes, offers the reader an extra incentive to learn their stories and comes with a sense of nostalgia. However, most of the multitude of character story lines in The Forty Niners, feel rushed and oddly robotic. Alan Moore's dialogue has never been staler and his usually slow build ups of stories are extremely rushed, especially with the "development" (if you can even call it that) of the relationship between Jetlad and his partner which feels just forced and out of the blue. Once...Alan Moore had the magic of scripting wordless panels that told more about characters relationships and fueled their and the story's development like no one else. I am still waiting for him to recapture that glory. Basically after finishing the trade, you feel emptiness, as if you were being set up for something but you're left with a resounding "That's it?"

The ultimate recommendation is that you should definitely check out both Top Ten volumes before this. And hopefully, this is not your first Alan Moore story. Trust me, he has written better. However, Alan Moore's magical appeal is that his worst written work is better than most "good" works by others. It's just that, you expect greatness to deliver all the time, and when they don't it's most disappointing. It's as if David Mamet, after great movies like the Spanish Prisoner, Wag the Dog, and Ronin...he writes Joan of Bark. Boy, I somehow connected Alan Moore and movies with a badly placed analogy. Now that's a hoot.

- Pawel Goj


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