Notes to Top Ten #6

by Jess Nevins

Revised 24 March 2002

Updates in blue.


Astrocitizen notes that the phrase on Irma's helmet begins with "Jesus" but he can't make out what's next. Me neither. Nathan Alderman and Joel Harris did, however: "Jesus is the Reason," which is the usually followed by "for the season."

Page 1

Panel 3. Astrocitizen wonders if "I wonder if the red figure on the left is a Romanized version of the Red Knight, the first created specifically for the newspapers comic strip super-hero." That would be a wonderfully obscure reference if it's true, but I think the figures are those seen on the Kirby-esque mural in Top Ten's headquarters.

Panel 4. As we see later, in issue #11, Smax's real name isn't "Jeff Smax" but "Jaafs Macksun."

Panel 5. Nathan Alderman points out the presence of the Beatles' Yellow Submarine. Brian Robison says "In front of the Yellow Submarine, we see the tail of the Batmobile as seen on 1960s television."

Panel 6. That would appear to be one of the apes from the "Planet of the Apes" movies walking by in the background.

Page 2.

Panel 2. The knight playing a board game with the hooded figure is a reference to Bergman's The Seventh Seal, in which a knight plays chess with death while trying to solve the mysteries of life.

Page 3.

Panels 1-3.Nathan Alderman notes that the rose on Fats' desk blooms and withers in the space of a couple of panels. Nathan also points out that the sign, in panel 3, is for Lieutenant Steve Traynor, not Captain Traynor.

Yi-Sheng Ng points out that Stochastic Fats is wearing a Kabala chart on his sandwich board.

Brian Robison says,

Per Yi-Sheng Ng's comment: No, it's not a kabbalah chart, and it's not a sandwich board. Fats's costume incorporates a slightly modified representation of the Wheel of Fortune card from a modern tarot deck. (Ha and Zander have simplified the image somewhat, presumably because if they hadn't, it would be completely unintelligible.) The "X" is the Roman numeral ten (the Wheel of Fortune is the eleventh trump, starting from The Fool as zero). The Roman letters around the rim of the wheel are T-A-R-O (or R-O-T-A = Latin "wheel," depending on where you start); these are interleaved with the Hebrew letters of the Tetragrammaton (Yod-Heh-Vav-Heh = YHVH = Yehovah). The image was devised by the 19th-c. French occultist Eliphas Levi; you can view the image (with annotations explaining the imagery) at
Page 4.

Panel 2. Marcelo de Castro Bastos wonders if the rug on the floor is the skin of Miracledog, from Alan Moore's Miracleman.

Page 5.

Panel 3. Ronald Byrd suggests that the talking object might be a mystic staff of some kind. Kieran Cowan thinks it might be a singing sword.

Page 8.

Panel 4. Ronald Byrd points out that "Tune Titans magazine" is a play on DC's Teen Titans, a hero group of teenaged heroes. Jason Adams notes that Dr. Documentary's cape seems to be part of a film strip. Nathan Alderman points out that the reporter to the right of Dr. Documentary has a helmet/faceplate shaped like a fountain pen's nib. Nathan also says, "The mechanic in the lower left-hand corner is drawn in a Jack Kirby style--appropriate given the King's penchant for fantastical machinery."

Panel 5. Spencer Cook notes that "the creature with the bear head and the little green vest is Rupert, the famous bear from the British comic book/prose stories of the same name.  It was also developed into a less than satisfying cartoon."

Page 9.

Panel 6. Jason Adams notes the presence of Marvel's Ultron in the sphere on the right. Spencer Cook and Astrocitizen think that it's not Ultron but N-Forcer of the Honor Guard from Kurt Busiek's Astro City. Astrocitizen also thinks that "the guy in the bubble at the top resembles the Silver Age Clayface."

Page 10.

Panel 2. Ronald Byrd points out that the reason Irma Geddon recognizes M'rrgla Qualtz is that Irma arrested her once before, as noted in the text page of issue #1.

Page 11.

Panel 4. Part of the robot building the snowrobot is a tangerine (not cherry, as Nathan Alderman pointed out) iMac.

I'm at a loss to explain the graffiti about the "Brotherhood of Evil," beyond the obvious reference to the DC (not Marvel, as Ronald Byrd points out) supervillains. Philip Cohen notes that the full phrase is "Brotherhood of Evil Gastroenterologists."

Panel 5. Ronald Byrd adds this:

"Holy Koresh" may refer not to the infamous David Koresh (although Irma's right-wing demeanor makes this an obvious guess), but rather to Cyrus Teed, a 19th century "crank" who also took the name Koresh (which is simply the biblical version of "Cyrus").  Teed believed that what most people regard as the exterior of the Earth was in fact the INTERIOR of the Earth, that humanity lives within a hollow earth (He is briefly discussed by the "Gesture Professor" in The Mole People, and in far more
detail in Martin Gardner's Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science and Paradox Books' The Big Book of Weirdos.).  This may possibly relate to the Church of the Great Hole in the Ground, since in Teed's world view the "ground" is the interior of the earth's sphere, and thus a "hole in the ground" would actually lead OUTSIDE of Earth, into Heaven...I guess.
Page 12.

Panel 1. The "Mindless Ones Appliances" billboard refers to the mindless alien brutes who have plagued Marvel's Dr. Strange. Clev adds "The meaning of Mindless Ones as the name of the Appliances shop had another meaning for me.  This is obviously a mixed neighbourhood which has a substantial robot population, so the appliances are the robots which *don't have sentience* - geddit?"

Ronald Byrd notes that "one of the flying children has his underwear on outside his costume, a clear reference to past descriptions of the
costumes of Superman, Batman, and others.  He has a "U" on his shirt; a reference to humor novel character Captain Underpants?" Michael Norwitz wonders if it's a reference to one of the characters from Big Bang. Jason Adams wonders if the flying child with the design on his head might be DC's Brainiac, and if the samurai child on the ground is Marvel's Silver Samurai.

Panel 2. The boy on the far left of the panel seems to be wearing Charlie Brown's shirt and the face mask of Marvel's Doctor Doom. And as John Dorrian and Ronald Byrd point out, the dog next to him as a scarf and goggles, which would make him Snoopy to the Doctor Charlie Brown Doom. Astrocitizen wonders "if the bronze robot is the child of The Fugitoid, an indie comic character and a part of the Ninja Turtles action figure series from awhile back."

Page 13.

Panel 2. The child to the immediate right of Santa is a super-version of Dumb Donald of Fat Albert's gang.

Carolyn Son adds:

Some of the other children: The Raccoon's from the Rocket Raccoon series, artist Mignola, from the eighties. She's the female racoon, but I cannot remember her name. The flower is from the Swamp Thing. Tefe, his daughter, made creatures that looked like this in a storyline.
Nathan Alderman says, "The girl inspecting the reindeer may be Squirrel Girl, an obscure Marvel character who (if memory serves me right) was at least co-created by Steve Ditko."

Page 15.

Panel 4. Nathan Alderman says, "In the foreground: a superhero whose powers seem to relate to his Afro hairstyle, or 'Fro (hence the Africa, African flag colors, and 'F' on his cape.)"

Page 16.

Panel 1. While the skull and crossbones are general threatening symbols, the Ex-Verminator's outfit seems designed to remind the reader of the costume of the killer vigilante the Punisher. Nathan Alderman also notes a resemblance to the Marvel villain Crossbones.

Nathan also points out that Duane's mom put on makeup, for company.

CleV notes,

Again, it's hard to identify the cats definitively.  The one with the jagged collar and sash is Doctor Strange, the one in orange fish scales and flippers is Aquaman.  There's one with a Flash-style belt and another wearing WW's tiara around her waist.  Considering that he reports to a speaking dog, Duane's perfectly right to wonder about the barbarity of siccing Atom Cats on the sentient mice.
Astrocitizen wonders if the cats are a reference to Atomic Tom, Crab Tabby, and Power Puss, the Space Cat Patrol Agents from Superboy #131. Lou Mougin says that "'Atom Cats' is more likely a ref to Atom the Cat, a comic pubbed by Charlton in the Fifties about a superpowered funny-animal feline.  There was also Atomic Mouse and Atomic Bunny.  Don't know if they ever crossed over."

Panel 2. The two types of vermin mentioned on the Ex-Verminator's van refer to the radioactive spider which bit Peter Parker, giving him the powers of Spider-Man, and to the bat which inspired Bruce Wayne to become Batman.

Panel 3. Brian Robison says, "The Ex-Verminator's remark about "the havoc those little three-fingered hands can do" is a reference to Disney characters and perhaps to funny animals generally--after all, on page 17, panel 1, we can clearly see that the mice have four fingers and a thumb."

Page 17.

Some of the mice on this page wear costumes of various superheroes and supervillains. The mouse in the immediate left foreground has the costume and supervision of DC's Martian Manhunter, while the mouse holding the refrigerator door has the costume of Marvel's Captain America.

Ronald Byrd adds

One mouse has hit another with a frying pan, like in the cartoons.  That seems to be a picture of Highfather from the New Gods on the wall.  Notice the lyrics of the robot rap (or scrap) song:  "Ice Machine" for "Ice T," "M.C. Chuck Fifteen," "ohms" for "homes," "clanging your glitch" for...well, I think you get it.
CleV adds, "It's the Captain Marvel mouse being hit by the frying pan, but I'm not sure who's doing the hitting."

Page 18.

Panel 1. Visible in the crowd  around Santa is Binky, the everyrabbit hero of Matt (The Simpsons) Groening's Love is Hell, Work is Hell, School is Hell, and Childhood is Hell.

The stores names refer to, moving left to right, DC's B'wana Beast, DC's Virman Vundabar, and DC's Brother Power the Geek.

The graffiti is the Italian names for the Justice League and the Avengers.

Ronald Byrd says, "Notice the squirrel girl is still trying to revive the dead reindeer; poor kid's going to need a BIG hug when this is all over."

James A. Wolf says, "A Sayin (Dragonball Z) is next to the Ladybug girl."

Page 19.

Panel 1. A number of people pointed out that Girl One has formed the classic Homer Simpson phrase, "D'oh!" on her body.

Page 20.

Panel 4.Nathan Alderman says, "Harry Lovelace, his power, and the red text it manifests in, seem to be homages to Jesse Custer of Preacher and his use of 'The Word.' Harry seems to be as quintessentially English as Jesse is American." James A. Wolf adds that Harry's last name, "Lovelace," is the same as the "star" of the porn movie Deep Throat, which was about (among the usual things) fellatio.

Page 21.

Panel 1. Spencer Cook says that "The kid on the far right with the top hat, scarf and cane is The Shade, DC villain and an important part of James Robinson's Starman series, (as well as The Shade's own miniseries) which Gene Ha did a few guest shots on.  He also drew the first issue of Shade's miniseries."

Page 22.

Panel 1. I'm sure that the monster driving the jalopy is a reference to someone, but I don't know who. Tom Wu says "The monster in the car looks very like the monster you'd see driving Hot Rods in adverts for the models - there's a parody advert in Moore's 1963 series that's my only reference. Maybe an Ed Roth sketch?" Andrew Van identifies it as Ed Roth's Ratfink.

Carolyn Son, among others, points out that the two prostitutes are Fairchild, from Image's Gen-13, and Red Monika, from Battle Chasers. Ronald Byrd notes that the flying leprechaun wears the costume of Marvel's Irish hero Banshee.

CleV notes, "The goofy gnomes look a bit like an Alan Davis' Captain Britain character (can't remember it's name)." Marcelo de Castro Bastos goes further and says they're members of Gatecrasher's Technet, from Captain Britain and Excalibur. Nick Ford, among others, mentions that they are in the traditional young, mature, and old sequence. Serandel says, of this, that "I confirm that. He appeared in Technet, from the Excalibur series, (but I don't remember his name) and in Captain Britain' Special Executive, where his name was Legion and was killed. (Nevertheless, the uniform is the Technet's one.) His power was to summon versions of himself from the time stream. That explains the kid and the grandpa, doesn't it?"

I thought I'd already identified these two, but apparently not. The two characters walking across the street, to the left of Ratfink, are, according to Serandel, Cobweb (from Moore's Captain Britain) and Cobweb (from Moore's Tomorrow Stories).

Nathan Alderman points out that e-Lectron must be a "shock jock," that the man on the left with the torch may be a gay hustler--"a 'flaming' homosexual, perhaps, or one with a fondness for 'torch songs'?"

Page 23.

Panel 1. Clev notes, "Panel one has a kid wearing a Multiple Man costume and the Living Laser with some groceries."

Ink227 notes that "The man on the far left appears to have a copy of The Daily Bugle, the newspaper that employs Peter Parker, Marvel's Spider-Man."

Panel 3. Ronald Byrd says, "Notice the Charlie Brown "ghost" from the "Great Pumpkin" Halloween special on Freya's left."

Page 24.

Panel 1. Spencer Cook says that "The god in the far right corner is some kind of Hadai god from the Canadian south western coast tribe, as evidenced from the style of his face." Yi-Sheng Ng says, "the god with a bird head is the Garuda, a bird-man whom Vishnu rides on in Hinduism.  The Hadai god behind him is a sun-god."

Thanks to: Jason Adams, Nathan Alderman, Astrocitizen, Marcelo de Castro Bastos, Ronald Byrd, Spencer Cook, Kieran Cowan, John Dorrian, Nick Ford, Joel Harris, Ink227, Lou Mougin, Yi-Sheng Ng, Michael Norwitz, Brian Robison, Serandel, Carolyn Son, CleV, Andrew Van, James A. Wolf, Tom Wu.

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