?Let’s face it, pretty much everyone loves something Alan Moore’s written. Even if Watchmen isn’t your cup of Earl Grey, you’ve probably dug The Killing Joke or Saga of the Swamp Thing, V For Vendetta or For the Man Who Has Everything. Dude’s got skillz. That’s why it’s funny to look through his comicography and see mostly random British books mixed in with his crazy popular ’80s classics. Once you hit the 9’0s though, it looks like he was slumming it by working on random Image books and collaborating with Rob Liefeld. WildC.A.T.S.? Spawn? Supreme? Some of those books are pretty great, but they don’t seem like the kind of books a writer like Moore should be working on. That all changed in 1999 with the launch of WildStorm imprint America’s Best Comics. He launched books like League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Promethea, Tom Strong and Top 10.
In addition to making great comics, Moore and his artists seemed set on mixing in as many pop culture references as possible into every page of these books and none moreso than Top 10, a world in which every kind of superhero, sci-fi, pulp and fantasy character have come together in one place to be policed by the super-powered cops of Neopolis. Moore’s run on the book lasted 12 issues, with a mini-series and graphic novel to follow, and has been continued by other writers since he left, but he and artist Gene Ha worked enough references in just those 12 issues for a whole list of lists. Here are the 20 coolest, in no particular order.
Daily List suggested by Hatori Gonzo.
20) Meet the Beetles (#12, page 4)
?Looks like Beatles in the Top 10-verse consist of guys who look an awful lot like Blue Beetle, Beetle Bailey, Marvel’s Beetle and Ringo from the animated Yellow Submarine movie.
19) Samurai Cafeteria (#7, page 21)
?In addition to employing a guy with heat vision to heat up the food, it the Top 10 cafeteria also seems to employ John Belushi’s samurai character from the first five seasons of Saturday Night Live.
18) Cutting Off the Circulation (#2, page 18)
?This here’s a double whammy. The crippled costumed character’s sign reads “Victim Of The ’92 Circulation Wars.” Not only could this refer to the comic book boom, but also the fact that losing legs must be murder on one’s circulation. Word play!
17) The Transworld Transport Terminal (#8, page 20)
?In addition to being full of various kinds of super-folks, Top 10 also deals with multiple dimensions. When officer King Peacock heads off to follow a lead on a murder case, he’s got to go through the teleport station called the Transworld Transport Terminal. In this one page you’ve got everything from members of the Crime Syndicate to characters from Marvel’s Age of Apocalypse alternate universe and even the meeting of two different Sandmen among plenty of other references like the robot from Metropolis and a Monitor.
16) Fantastic Art (#8, page 1)
?Looks like Jack Kirby’s greatness exists in alternate dimensions as can be seen in this modern art representation of the Fantastic Four in the Peregrine’s place.
15) Fly Zone (#8, page 14)
?When flying traffic gets rerouted thanks to a teleport accident, we get a look at a lot of familiar faces and sideviews of characters like the Falcon, Thor Frog, Black Racer, the Vulture, Dawnstar, Man-Bat X-Man Angel and a few others.
14) Pants Pants Revolution (#5, page 9)
?Keep your eyes in the sky when reading through Top 10, especially for the signs, all of which refer to something in the comics or pop culture world. This time around, it’s a billboard advertising non-rip pants with the slogan “You Wouldn’t Like Me When I’m Naked.” Plus, check out that red version of the Silver Surfer.
13) Handicapped Crusaders (#8, page 17)
?Before heading to Grand Central, King Peacock meets up with his wife and children to say goodbye in front of a group of wheelchair-bound characters demanding equal access. You’ve got Barbara Gordon (who Moore crippled in Killing Joke), a Dalek from Doctor Who, the Doom Patrol‘s Niles Caulder and Professor Xavier. Note that Moore got his start working on Doctor Who comics back in the late ’70s.
12) For a Good Time (#1, page 19)
?Aside from being one of the best double entendres in comics, Giant-Size Man-Thing might also be a reference to the confusion between that Marvel character and DC’s Swamp Thing, which Moore wrote, launching his career in the U.S. Also, the guy directly under the writing has more than a passing resemblance to Moore. We checked on the phone number, wondering if it was a reference to a specific issue, but GSMT ended in ’75 and was long gone by ’81.
11) No Wonder Dogs Allowed (#11, page 10)
?We just know we’re missing some of the references on this page (like those purple guys on the left), but we did notice Marvin and Wendy from Super Friends along with what looks like Scott McCloud from his Understanding Comics books there in the lightning bolt T-shirt and plaid button down.
10) On the Street (#11, page 11)
?Okay, this one’s cheating, but we couldn’t decide which panel from this page to include. On the top left you’ve got different colored versions of Fry, Leela and Bender from Futurama. Then in the bottom panel a futuristic Mary Poppins hovers above the street and it looks like Dyno-Mutt’s out for a walk with the green Blue Falcon.
9) Paying For His Crimes (#9, page 8)
?Whether that’s actually Moore in the first issue or not remains questionable, but we’re nearly certain that Moore’s one of the guys in chains on Grand Central, a world where the Roman empire never fell. Any ideas on who the bald guy might be?
8) Working Blue (#9, page 15)
?Top 10 garnered more than a few comparisons to the fast-talking detective work seen on ABC’s N.Y.P.D. Blue, so it came as no surprise when detectives Andy Sipowitcz (Dennis Franz) and Danny Sorenson (Rick Schroder) popped up in this one panel.
7) It’s a Gass (#6, page 22)
?Sure blue versions of Gen 13‘s Caitlin Fairchild and Battle Chasers‘ Red Monkia seem to be soliciting in this panel, but the coolest aspect is the inclusion of Rat Fink creator “Big Daddy” Ed Roth’s Mr. Gasser zooming down the road. He’s the green guy in the hot rod near the gutter.
6) Taste the Koala (#1, page 4)
?Every fictional universe seems to have a brand of soda that pops up from time to time. In Top 10, it’s called Red K, which is a reference to the kind of Kryptonite that does something different to Superman each time he’s exposed to it, like turning into a big ape. Here it is on the fourth page of the book, but it appears on vending machines and other signs throughout the series.
5) Traffic Jam (#8, page 3)
?During issue #8’s traffic jam, we get plenty of easter eggs. In the above panel, there’s a car full of rubberneckers including guys who look like Elongated Man, Plastic Man, Jimmy Olsen as Elastic Lad, Stretch Armstrong and Mr. Fantastic. Below, it looks like a steampunk version of The Little Engine That Could chugs along in the detour.
4) A Grand Day Out (#1, page 8)
?Ha included Nick Park’s lauded creations Wallace and Gromit in this traffic scene. These are the kinds of easter eggs you get in the first seven issues, after that, Ha and Moore blow the doors off with even more references on every page.
3) Willie Shakes (#10, page 5)
?The Bard looks more like a junior writer on Saturday Night Live or Letterman with his backwards khaki hat and ever present stack of papers. This isn’t Shakespeare’s only appearance in the book, or his first, but it’s his biggest. We’re not quite sure what he does aside from clerical work. Hopefully working on a screenplay.
2) Hair Apparent (#3, page 11)
?Ever wonder how Wolverine gets his hair to stay up like that? Here’s the secret, a conditioner dubbed “The Natural Wingtip.” These are the kinds of smaller billboards you’ve got to keep an eagle out for to soak in all the references.
1) Red Light District (#4, page 23)
?While trying to track down the Libra killer, some of Neopolis’ finest have to go to the seedier part of the city which, of course, includes several sex and strip clubs with superpowered themes like “Stretchable Sluts” and “Quadruple Lass in Fourplay.” Seems like a grown up, purple frocked Little Orphan Annie is checking out the shows.