Sorry for the lack of posts recently. Life has been hella-busy recently, with numerous competing demands on my time. You know how it is: shit gets hectic sometimes. I get busier than Arsenio Hall. I have to prioritize, and when I prioritize, that means that somebody gets the shaft. In this case, that somebody is YOU, Dave’s Long Box reader!
But now I am back and I’m ready to talk about my favorite graphic novel from the year 2005 -- Top 10: The Forty-Niners. Yes, I liked it even more than that Essential Spider-Woman collection*, Dave said ironically.
The Forty-Niners is a prequel to writer Alan Moore’s Top 10 comic series. This graphic novel, written by Moore with art by my homeboy Gene Ha, tells the story of the beginning of Neopolis, a retro-futuristic city full of superhumans, robots, and supernatural creatures. It establishes the historical background for the characters and events in the Top 10 series, which has accurately been described as “Hill Street Blues with superheroes.”
The Forty-Niners is really about family and acceptance and belonging. Moore weaves different plot threads through the story, each exploring the idea of community. Skywitch and Jet Lad are immigrants to Neopolis, anxious to make a place for themselves in this weird city that is growing before their eyes. Jet Lad’s relationship with Wulf, the armored super cop Steel Gauntlet’s terrible secret, the discrimination against the robots – they all touch on issues of acceptance and belonging. Even the vampire gangsters talk about family.
If that is not enough for you, The Forty-Niners has got time traveling Nazis, aerial dogfights, vampire beheadings, and Skywitch’s kick-ass flying broom.
Aside from Alan Moore’s wry dialogue and clever plotting, Gene Ha’s artwork really makes The Forty-Niners work. His art is finely rendered, almost delicate. Ha puts a painstaking level of detail into each panel, and the book is loaded with visual references to Golden Age comics and postwar pulp culture. The backgrounds are full of precisely drawn deco and futurist skyscrapers and ornate brownstones.