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 (-1 stars out of 5)

Remember that ambitious but flawed Luc Besson movie "The Fifth Element"? It was kind of disappointing.

I could sort of see that coming because the French director was probably heavily influenced by the graphic arts magazine Heavy Metal, or Metal Hurlant as I believe it was called in France.

As it turned out, that movie had all the weaknesses of your basic, in all probability, hallucinogen inspired issue of Heavy Metal. Stunning visuals--I believe the storyboards were drawn by Moebius himself and it shows--but a silly story. Science fiction elements weren't thought out, but used pretty much like props.

I'm not saying that every science fiction story has to be plotted via software a la John Barnes, but there has to be some consistency, some thought. Sure, the black president is cool, but what party nominated him? Are minorities now the majority? Or does it just look cool? I'm guessing that it just looked cool.

With that in mind, I took a look at this month's Heavy Metal, which is a one story issue based on their upcoming film project: FAKK 2. I liked parts of the first Heavy Metal film and this issue looked interesting, and by interesting I suppose I'm still attracted to beautiful, heavily endowed Frazetta females gracing the covers. So I'm not dead yet, sue me.

I must say I found the comic to be horrible. Really bad.

This is despite the fact that it was drawn by Simon Bisley. I suppose when I was 14 I found those obscenely chested Richard Corben women really attractive. Now, I just wonder how they move around, let alone do athletic things. What's worse I read it at Borders so people would occasionally glance over…Let's just say I would have felt more prestige fingering through and drooling over the Best of Hustler.

The story just struck me as being badly constructed.

It seems like these guys define "mature" storytelling as big tits and wanton violence. The writing feels as believable as that horrible Chuck Norris tv show. I don't mind blood, but there has to be a reason for it. The violence here just seemed excessive and silly. The dialogue was cliched. These cartoonish characters say all the things that you expect people to say in bad action movies. It felt like a, well, comic book. A very bad comic book.

I don't know, maybe the movie, after editing and rewrites, will be much stronger. But I don't see how if this is their basis. According to Kevin Eastman, the "genius" who brought us "Teenage Ninja Mutant Turtles", this was one of almost a dozen scripts. Bisley's talents are just wasted here. He did a recent comic with Frank Miller that was just so well written, but this…A waste of time.

I guess I'll give the film a shot because I'm a genre addict.

But I have grave Jar Jar like doubts.

 

 

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 (3.8 stars out of 5)

If Promothea is the Moore take on Old Gods as heroes and if Tom Strong is the Moore take on Superman, then Top 10 has to be his take on Kurt Busiek’s Astro City.

There’s a similar feel. Even the icons at the end of the book resembles that of the Astro City emblems. Costumed people abound, and if that’s your thing, you’ll find plenty here. There's even a cover drawn by Alex Ross.

I suppose when one has read all the anti superhero books that I have read—including Moore’s own books—you don’t come away thinking that this is all that original.

But as usual it’s competently done. Sort of like watching a film by Coppola: You might not think it’s his best work but there will always be a high degree of craft. Think Tucker or Dracula, not the Godfather.

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The Top 10 world, which apparently is part of Tom Strong’s universe or at least that’s the big hint in Tom Strong 3, has run amok with heroes or would be heroes. Apparently after this world’s WWII people really jumped onto the superhero bandwagon in a big way. The written epilogue/back history in the first issue suggests that the superhero fad just kind of got out of hand. Mix that with the tech jumps these imagined universes have and you probably can’t walk the streets of downtown Neopolis--described as being built by Ray Bradbury, Fritz Lang and Zeus--without bumping into somebody with a cape or leotard on.

Just as a bit of backstory, the Top 10 is a police unit whose job it is to capture other "villains" or superheroes who have gone bad. The first issue centers on an extremely underpowered rookie cop whose primary powers are her box of toys, which she happens to carry around under her arm like a bag of groceries. Her toys are pretty cool. They’re sentient toy robots that can fly, use weapons, and do detective work. I guess they’re what those Mindstorms Lego robots might look like in 50 years or so.

By the way, the story is packed densed with science fictional ideas. The police bureau is in immediate communication with their other parallel worlds, there’s rampant and truly irresponsible biotech going on. One officer has a dog’s head, one villain has the head of what looks like a boar. Then there's your telepath, devil worshippers and openly lesbian, wraithlike officers, and a shark for a lawyer—or a lawyer with a shark's head who says things like "Glushko? The spaceman? Listen, I hope I don't have to remind you, testimony obtained by telepathy is not legally admissable…"

Science fictional rock star David Bowie, who was unsatisfied with one of his albums, once remarked that he "should have sabotaged" those songs some more. I always sense that Moore’s work is full of "sabotage" and "subversion" and he never looks back and thinks he might not have planted enough bombs. You can find something weird on every page.

So, if you’re a fan of Astro City and who isn’t, then Top Ten might just be for you.

I've also finally figured something out. I keep on wondering how Moore, even though he can write pretty fast, can keep churning all these issues out. It finally occurred to me that he would probably write the first one or two story arcs and then let other creators take a stab at the storytelling. Moore probably figures he should become his own Lee/Kirby and he's probably right.