I guess I really discovered Alan Moore's writing talents twice. The first time was as a teenager. I didn't collect comics myself, but I did have a couple of friends who picked up "2000 AD" each week. My favourite story was "D.R. & Quinch", by Alan Moore. But back then though, I took zero notice of who wrote or illustrated any given tale. I thought it was just the characters that I liked.
A few years later, I got bitten by the Spider-Man bug, and with my limited funds I had little time or money for anything other than Spidey and the X-Men. It's only in recent years that I've been inspired to look outside my limited collecting range and pick up TPB's of "classic" works such as "The Watchmen" and "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen". It didn't take very long at all before I started to realise that most of the "great works" of the genre seemed to be produced by a relatively small number of individuals - with Alan Moore very predominant among them.
Quite independantly I ordered a copy of "Top 10, Issue #11" from some online comics store. I had never heard of the title before, but one of my fellow collectors assured me that there was a one panel alternate universe Peter Parker humor cameo buried within the story. When the comic arrived, I dutifuly went looking for the cameo, not really intending to read the story. But it didn't take more than a few glances to realise that the story was actually pretty damn good. Hey, who wrote this? Oh... Alan Moore. Whaddya know?
Now that I knew the name, I started to see references to "Top 10" popping up more and more in my travels. Seems like it wasn't such a big secret that this was a great story. So I reached for the credit card, hopped onto Amazon.Com, and ordered the TPB. I'm damn glad I did - this is great stuff.
The plot is weird, but pretty easy to define. Take your your favorite character-driven police precinct TV show (CSI, whatever) and translate it into the most bizarre alternate super-hero, high-tech version of New York you can imagine. You're probably getting close.
The "Top 10" of the story is the police precinct of Neopolis of Alternate Earth #10. The city of Neopolis was set up to hold all the super-heroes and villains of the planet, the population of which expanded rapidly after World War II. Of course, super-people need super-police, and that's who makes up the protagenists of the book. The folks from Top 10 fight the daily struggle to untangle the equally bizarre crimes and accidents of this most unusual city.
Like any top TV drama, it's the individuals that really make a great show, and Alan Moore is on a winner here with a truly fascinating cast who are so terribly human despite their super-powers. The wacky and unusual nature of their investigations form part of the interest of the tale, but the heart of the story is the interactions between the characters - and it's quite clear that Alan Moore could have made this series just as successful if he set it in every-day reality. But he didn't, and the extra milage from the unusual settings make this tale even more entertaining.
Another great thing about Top 10 is the self-contained nature of the book. There's no massive crossovers, interminable sagas, alternate covers, or any such gimmicks. The first twelve issues tie neatly together to form a complete "Act One" that is a pleasure to read all by itself. I'm definitely hoping for an "Act Two" one day, but in the meantime I'm quite sure I'll read this act more than once, and I'll definitely be lending it out to friends.
The bottom line? Top 10 is a safe bet. Go buy a copy, and be better read.