Notes to Top Ten #8

by Jess Nevins

Revised 29 October 2001

Updates in blue.

Page 1

Panel 1. Ronald Byrd notes that Peregrine's husband's watch is shaped like Superman's insignia, and that the portrait on the wall appears to be of a masked Ronald Reagan. Michael Battle says, of the watch, that

I always thought that the band which Lt. Colby's husband wore is the same bracelet that the heroes from "Battle of the Planets", "Gatchaman". whatever name you wish to use, wore as their "Transformation/Communication" device. I swear it looks exactly like that. The character he represents may be Jason but I believe it to be the youngest member grown up.
Michael followed up with the image on the right, which seems convincing to me.

Panel 2. Ronald Byrd notes

The Imperfect Duplicates and "Ugliness Am Beauty" are references to the Bizarros, imperfect duplicates of Superman and his friends.  At one point prior to the Crisis on Infinite Earths, there actually existed a style of quasi-punk/new wave music called "Bizarro," as seen in the "Phantom Zone" miniseries.
Panel 3. Ronald Byrd points out that "The `theta beam' which carried Mister Nebula is reminiscent of the `zeta beam' which played such a prominent role in the adventures of (DC's) Adam Strange."

Jason Adams says, "the shower head is of a whale-like creature with arms. Didn't Namor attack New York with some kind of mutant whale-like creature in an early issue of the Fantastic Four?"

Panel 4. The painting to Peregrine's right is Marvel's Fantastic Four as painted by Picasso or one of the Cubists. Nathan Alderman notes that the painting is an homage to Picasso's "Les Demoiselles d'Avignon."

Panel 6. Ronald Byrd notes that "`Paradise Pads...untouched by the hand of man' is an homage to Wonder Woman's homeland Paradise Island, where no man can set foot."

Page 2.

Panel 1. Jason Adams notes SHIELD's Helicarrier in flight just below the Top Ten logo.

Page 3.

Panel 1. The floating building in the upper left is the Baxter Building, home of Marvel's Fantastic Four. On more than one occasion in in the pages of Fantastic Four the Baxter Building has been severed from its moorings and sent flying into space.

Among the flying creatures and vessels in line I noticed, beginning in the lower left:

Nathan Alderman also identifies "the escape pod (previously speculated as a Star Trek shuttlecraft) and the Corellian freighter Tantive IV from the opening scene of Star Wars, and some kind of combination submarine-blimp that looks H.G. Wells-inspired."

Panel 2. F. Peneaud points out that the insect-like car is similar to the Owl's vehicle, from Watchmen, and the Blue Beetle's vehicle, from various Charlton and DC comics.

The joke here is that the car is filled with heroes with stretching ability, and that they are literally rubber-necking. Moving from left to right: DC's Elongated Man, Quality/DC's Plastic Man, DC's Jimmy Olsen (in his "Elastic Lad" persona, as Jason Adams points out), Stretch Armstrong (thanks to Spider for this one), and Marvel's Mr. Fantastic.

Panels 4. In the background flying by is the children's literature character Thomas the Tank Engine.

Page 6.

Panel 4. Paradox, who doth bestride the petty world like a colossus, identifies the pair as DC's Cyclone Kids, from Scribbly. They were previously seen in issue #3, page 18, panel 1.

Page 7.

Panel 3. Ronald Byrd notes that "The Black Boomerang may be a parallel to Green Arrow, the first new recruit to the JLA."

Page 8.

Panel 1. Nathan Alderman sees a resemblance between M'rglla Qualtz's costume and that of DC's Martian Manhunter.

Panel 4. Ronald Byrd notes that "The Altair Summit may be a reference to Altair IV, the planet from Forbidden Planet. The year 423 BC may have significance, but I don't know what it is." F. Peneaud notes that "423 BC is the Date of the Destruction of the Temple...and also the date of the first representation of Aristophanes’s The Clouds."

Page 10.

Panel 1. Spider and Ronald Byrd point out the presence of Spaceman Spiff, the Walter Mitty-esque space hero imaginary identity of Calvin, from Calvin and Hobbes.

Panel 2. Spencer Cook notes that "The insect worm creature in the background is one of Calvin's imaginary alien foes from his fantasy outer space jaunts as Spaceman Spiff."

Page 12.

Panel 1. Flying by in the upper left are the anime hero Astro Boy and the action figure and Marvel hero Rom.

Page 14.

Panel 1. Beginning the upper right and moving clockwise around the edge of the panel, the characters shown here are: the DC hero Hawkman in a Silver Age-y costume; Marvel's mutant hero (and member of the X-Men) the Angel in a Silver Age costume; DC's anti-hero the Man-Bat; DC's Dawnstar, a former member of the Legion of Super-Heroes; Marvel's Vulture, a Spider-Man villain; a Sentinel, one of the mutant-hunting robots in Marvel comics; the ship of the Fawcett supervillain Mr. Mind; Marvel's hero the Falcon; DC's Black Racer, a harbinger of death and a psychopomp in the Kirby Fourth World; Marvel Comics' the Thunder Frog (in Thor #364 Thor was turned into a frog through the efforts of his brother Loki; when, in frog form, Thor tapped his hammer, he became a godly frog, the Thunder Frog--trust me, it works in context); the flying Cadillac of the Marvel heroine She-Hulk (thanks to Ronald Byrd for identifying that); and a flying carpet.

Page 15.

Panel 5. The characters flying by in the background are, moving left to right, Mon-El, Saturn Girl, Timber Wolf, and Superboy, in pursuit of Lightning Lord. All are DC characters, the former four members of the Legion of Super-heroes and Lightning Lord one of their enemies.

Sir Deuce and sees a similarity between the flying car and the 1960s Batmobile. Astrocitizen thinks that it may be the Batman Beyond Batmobile.

Page 16.

Panel 3. Nathan Alderman says, "The 'SPQR' on Commissioner Ultima's collar stands for Senatus Populus Que Romanus, which according to means 'the Senate and the People of Rome.' I don't know what 'RVA' means, but I'm guessing it could stand for 'Rome Vanquishes All' or some Latin equivalent."

Page 17.

Panel 1. The only character on upper left that I recognized was the Marvel villain the Wizard. (Ronald Byrd wonders if the tornado might be a reference to DC's Red Tornado (II), who left behind a tornado trail) On the right, working from front to back: the Marvel heroes (and members of Alpha Flight) Northstar and Aurora; the DC hero J'onn J'onzz, the Martian Manhunter; and the giant dog and kid from The Never Ending Story (an aptly titled book and film). (Ronald Byrd points out that the dog was a luck-dragon, not a dog, and that their names were Falkor and Atreyu/Bastian Balthazar Bux.)

Spider points out what I should have gotten immediately: the presence of Mr. Beeba, at the Smudburger stand; Mr. Beeba appears in the very good comic Akiko.

"Businessman: You'll believe a man can't fly" is a play on the first Superman film, which went to great lengths to convince us that a man could, after all, fly.

Panel 2. The four characters here are: DC's Barbara Gordon (formerly Batgirl, now confined to a wheelchair thanks to the Joker); a Dalek, from Dr. Who; the Chief, from DC's Doom Patrol (confined to a wheelchair thanks to the villain General Immortus); and Professor Xavier, from Marvel's X-Men (confined to a wheelchair thanks to the villain Lucifer).

Page 18.

Panel 1. Ronald Byrd nudged me into remembering that the yellow lightning bolt backdraft came from DC's Air Wave (II).

Panel 4. The porter in the foreground is carrying the Bottle City of Kandor. The porter behind him, as many folks pointed out, is carrying the "Mnark Krystal," an analogue and perhaps anagram to Marvel's M'kran Crystal.

Page 20.

Panel 1. Oh, Lord.

Grand Central is, as should become clear, a point from which to travel to (and from) alternate worlds. Most of the characters seen here are either from alternate worlds or are somehow capable of traveling to them.

Upper left: Superwoman, Power Ring, Alexi Luthor (not Per Degaton, as I originally thought), and Ultraman. All are DC villains. Superwoman, Power Ring, and Ultraman are members of the Crime Syndicate, a group of supervillains from Earth-3. In the DC cosmology most alternate Earths have their own numerical designation, although this is not always the case, as Michael Norwitz points out. Earth-1 was the modern world; Earth-2 was the world with DC's heroes from the Golden Age; and Earth-3 was the world in which characters who were heroes on Earths 1 and 2, like Superman, Wonder Woman, and Green Lantern, were villains. So Superwoman is a villainous Wonder Woman analogue, Power Ring an evil Green Lantern analogue, Ultraman an evil Superman analogue, and Alexi Luthor a good Lex Luthor analogue.

Nathan Alderman points out, "The insignias on the chests of the villains at upper left spell out 'SOD U.' Alan Moore's feelings toward DC?"

Upper right: Either Disney's Donald Duck or Marvel's heroic fowl Howard the Duck. Ronald Byrd says,

The duck is indeed Howard the Duck; even if the hat weren't a giveaway, the fact that he is falling from the sky while everyone else is arriving and departing in an orderly fashion is entirely typical of the hapless everyman/duck.
Upper middle: "Vacation on Infinite Earths" is a reference to the DC miniseries Crisis on Infinite Earths, which revised DC's somewhat tangled continuity and removed all of the company's alternate Earths from its diegetical history. The figures on the poster played roles in the Crisis; they are, front to back, Pariah (a sort of harbinger of doom), unknown (Ronald Byrd thinks it's a miscolored Superman), Firestorm (an element-changing hero), Dawnstar (member of the Legion of Super-Heroes), the Blue Beetle, Cyborg (Spider and Ronald Byrd identified him), and I can't tell the last character on the poster. (Nathan Alderman thinks it might be Jericho, of the Teen Titans.)

Middle: As mentioned above, in the DC cosmology each alternate Earth has its own numerical designation. In the Marvel cosmology each alternate Earth has its own letter designation.

Below the directional sign are four of the robots from the 1927 classic Metropolis. The best image I could come up with of the robot is here, but it doesn't really do her justice. (Nathan Alderman points out that her name was Eve.)

Bottom left. I'm going to start here and work in a clockwise direction around the panel:

Page 21.

Panel 1. Moving from left to right, we see: the robot, Will Robinson, and Dr. Zachary Smith, from Lost in Space (tv version); either Mr. Jordan and Joe Pendleton from Here Comes Mr. Jordan, Mr. Jordan and Joe Pendleton from Heaven Can Wait, or Sam Becket and Al Calavicci from Quantum Leap (Kieran Cowan says that this is from the Quantum Leap "episode called All-Americans. It is the only one where he plays football. It is worth noting that this scene takes place in a waiting room. In QL, The Waiting Room is where the people Sam leaps into arrive. Also, the fact that most of the characters in this scene are television characters echoes the intended destination, The Vast Wasteland"); two ice cream-eating Aztecs, possibly from an issue of Alan Moore's Tom Strong; characters from Stargate SG-1(Nathan Alderman says, "Among the Stargate SG-1 characters, the character Teelk is saying 'What?' as his comrades all stare at him, noting his resemblance to John Corbeau;" Julie Schwartz?; and Paradox identifies the two on the far right as "Jon Erik Hexum & Meeno Peluce from the Voyagers TV series." Ronald Byrd adds that Jon Erik Hexum and Meeno Peluce were the actors in Voyagers, and that the characters were named Phineas Bogg and Jeffrey Jones.

Panel 2. The only character I recognize here is the one handing the ticket to clerk: Ultra the Multi-Alien, one of DC's most obscure and fondly-remembered characters. Gene Ha added, pace the grafitti about this character in issue #11, that its name is actually "Ultra the Multi-Skrull," as the green part of its face is shaped like one of Marvel's Skrulls.

CleV notes that "the bug-eyed creature reading the newspaper in panel 2 looks like the Captain Britain villain The Fury." Nick Ford also i.d.ed this character as the Fury. Pepe Solís adds that

behind Ultra the Multi-Skrull, the big-headed green character reminds me of Supreme-of-the-future, one of the many denizens of the Supremacy... (he seems to be miscolored, and has an 'S' in his belt buckle) from Alan's own Supreme, of course . And in the same panel, immediatly to the right of Ultra we see the head of someone who looks a lot like Sir William Whitley Gull himself (from From Hell)... and he seems to be naked...
Astrocitizen also identified the tie to Moore's Supreme, and added that "I think the ball cap is a reference to a specific back-up story wherein they played a baseball game."

Andrew Van says, "I think that the woman with the trenchcoat and glasses may be Captain UK from Moore's Captain Britain series.  Captain UK was disguised similarly in order to avoid being outed as a superhero, but the Fury eventually found her."

Panel 5.Astrocitizen identifies the woman here as Glory, from Moore's aborted Glory series.

Thanks to: Jason Adams, Arcanum, Mike Battle, Ronald Byrd, Kieran Cowan, Sir Deuce,, the most-worthy Paradox, F. Peneaud, Pepe Solís, Spider, CleV, Andrew Van.

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