Notes to Top Ten #9

by Jess Nevins

Revised 29 October 2001

Updates in blue.


I'm sure the characters in the crowd are references to characters, but I don't know who. (A number of people pointed out Marvel's MODOK and Mysterio.) Nathan Alderman says "Spectators appear to include WWII-era hero Liberty Belle (can't remember if she's Marvel or DC); some kind of super-nun (Warrior Nun Areala?); Marvel's Luke Cage, Power Man (with gold chains and an even bigger 'fro); and an aged version of Marvel's MODOK, among others."

Page 1

Panel 1. Sir Deuce points out "Zero, My Hero" from Schoolhouse Rock, flying behind two other men in the upper left of the panel.

Panel 3. Yes,, seen on the wall, is an actual site address. It brings you to the home page of Gene Ha, the penciller of Top Ten.

"Balls by Bizarro," underneath a pair of cubes, is a reference to DC's Bizarro and his penchant for reversing things, including spheres.

If the rest of the grafitti is a reference to anything, I don't know what.

Page 2.

This page is a riff on the events of Fantastic Four #50, when the Fantastic Four, with the help of the cosmic being The Watcher, managed to drive off from Earth the cosmic Eater of Worlds, Galactus. In this case, however, rodent versions of other superheroes, both Marvel and DC, have apparently joined the fight. (And I have to say, as the owner of several fancy rats, that some of the rats on this page are just adorable. My fiancee just loved the Wonder Woman rat)

The rodent in the upper right is dressed like DC's Wonder Woman. The two enormous animals, identified in dialogue as "Cosmouse" and "Galactapuss," are analogues for Marvel's The Watcher (an alien who watches the Earth without--usually--taking action) (note that Cosmouse's silhouette is that of Mickey Mouse) and Marvel's Galactus. Cosmouse's look, a silhouette filled with stars and planets, is like that of Marvel's Eternity.

Flying between Galactapuss and Cosmouse is "the Saturnian Scrap-Hunter," who is threatening Galactapuss with the "Ultimate Pacifier." The "Saturnian Scrap-Hunter" is a rodent analogue for DC's alien hero the Martian Manhunter. The "Ultimate Pacifier" is an analogue for the Ultimate Nullifier, which was the weapon that The Watcher allowed the Fantastic Four to steal from him and to threaten Galactus with in Fantastic Four #50. Ronald Byrd notes that the "Ultimate Pacifier" looks like a mouse squeak-toy, and that "Galactypuss" was the name of a Galactus analogue in an issue of Peter Porker the Spectacular Spider-Ham.

Of the other animal analogues, the ones that I recognize are (moving from left to right): Batman (and, as tphile points out, Robin, behind and to the left of Batman), John Constantine (the overcoat-wearing cigarette-smoking rat with its back to us; Constantine is a DC anti-hero), Atomic Mouse (thanks to Astrocitizen for noting him),the Human Torch (the flaming rodent; the Human Torch is a member of Marvel's Fantastic Four), Danger Mouse (below the Human Torch, wearing an eyepatch), Mighty Mouse (flying at one of the cats), the Thing (the grey, rocky rodent on the far right; the Thing is a member of Marvel's Fantastic Four), and Mr. Fantastic (the stretching rodent wrestling with the Thing; Mr. Fantastic is a member of Marvel's Fantastic Four) (Marcelo de Castro Bastos thinks that it's a reference to the DC stretching hero the Elongated Man, based on the uniform color). Presumably the rat to the right of Constantine is a Hercules analogue.

Karfan points out that one of the flying rats (the Danger Mouse analogue) is wearing "a reversal of Aquaman's classic costume." That is, DC's Aquaman traditionally wore green tights and a chainmail shirt. This rat also has wings on his feet, like Marvel's Sub-Mariner.

As a side note, rats do in fact box and wrestle as a way to determine supremacy and who among a colony is going to be the Alpha Rat. When they box, they look rather like the rat with the "RR" on his chest.

Page 3.

Panel 3. "--verine has a prosthetic," seen on the wall, is a joking reference to Marvel's Wolverine, whose skeleton and prosthetic claws are made of metal, which leads one to speculate what other body part of his might be metal.

Panel 4. CleV reminds me to note that the graffiti, "The Huntress has 2 fathers," is a reference to the background of the current Huntress in DC Comics.

Panel 6. Marcelo de Castro Bastos usefully points out,

Power Pup, a cartoon super-dog, is one of the (somewhat annoying) "assistants" that shipped with Microsoft Office 97. Most people know only the default one, Clippit (a "perky" animated paperclip) and never realize that you have a handful of others to choose from.
Page 4.

Panel 1. The names on the marquees along the left are references to Marvel comics of the Silver Age, reconfigured here to be salacious. "Tools of Suspense" is a reference to Tales of Suspense, whose title logo looked like this and which starred, during the 1960s, Iron Man and Captain America--hence the "Iron Rod and "Captain Ramerica." "Journey into Mammary" is a reference to to Journey into Mystery, which eventually gave birth to Thor, and "Amazing Adult Fantasy Gifts" is a reference to Amazing Adult Fantasy.

The flying elephant is presumably Dumbo, from the eponymous Disney film. The group of costumed figures in the car on the left are DC's Forever People--Mark Moonrider, Big Bear, Beautiful Dreamer, and Serifan--done up to look like the Beverly Hillbillies riding into Hollywood. Gene Ha says that he calls them "the Foreverly Hillbillies."

Ronald Byrd notes that "The reference to Atoman being `dead' only as a marketing ploy refers to, of course, the infamous "Death of Superman" storyline."

Panel 3. "Strange Tails" is a play on Strange Tales, the 1960s Marvel comics that eventually gave birth to Dr. Strange.

Panel 4. "Hourman" is a DC hero; the symbol between "hour" and "man" is very similar to Hourman's symbol.

Panel 5. "Kang the Caterer" is a reference to the Marvel time-traveling villain Kang the Conqueror.

Page 6.

Panel 1. The mother is wearing the costume of DC's Hourman (II). CleV and Ronald Byrd note that the son's accident is a reference to The Fly. Ronald also points out that the station personnel in issue #8, page 21, panel 3, was warning travellers about checking their clothing for insects. Jason Adams points out that the boy "looks similar to the way Bart Simpson did when the same thing happened to him in one of The Simpsons annual Halloween specials."

Panel 2. Ronald Byrd notes that the son is "eating french fries from the same restaurant whose packaging littered Smax's bedroom in #6."

Panel 3. In the lower left are versions of the Greek hero Hercules, as he has appeared in Marvel, DC, Charlton and the Mighty Hercules tv show. (Thanks to Todd Kogutt for iding the latter two)

The t-shirt phrase, "I came, I saw, I bought this lousy t-shirt" is a reference to Julius Caesar's statement, "Veni, vidi, vici," or "I came, I saw, I conquered."

I don't recognize any of the other references (if such they are) in this panel.

Ronald Byrd notes that the "The flying man in the center is wearing emblems very similar to those of Commissioner Ultima."

Nathan Alderman says, "Down in the far lower right of the panel is a blue troll with a hot magenta shirt, studying a guidebook. This guy's from Chris Claremont and Alan Davis's "Cross-Time Caper" storyline in Marvel's Excalibur. He was a genial if somewhat boorish interdimensional tourist, so his presence here makes sense."

Page 7.

Panel 1. Note the three-headed dog being dragged away in the background. Perhaps it's Cerberus?

Panel 2. "Nubie," which we will see mentioned a few times in this series, is clearly meant as an ethnic slur. It's a reference to Nubia, the portion of Africa which extended from around the Nile River Valley to Khartoum. The Kingdom of Nubia, whose southern portion was sometimes called Kush, flourished before the 1st Pharaonic Dynasty in Egypt and was extinguished by them circa 2950 B.C.E. If you want to learn more, Thinkquest has a good Ancient Nubia site.

That's a centaur having trouble with a Customs officer.

Panel 3. The customs officer is a satyr.

Panel 4. That's a pegasus in the left foreground.

Panel 5. Legionnaire Hercula is a female version of Hercules (I believe that "Hercula" is the female version of the name "Hercules," though not ever having taken Latin I can't say that for sure). Like the male version, Hercula is wearing the skin of the Nemean Lion.

Legionnaire Briareus is not, I think, meant to be the Briareus, but rather a character sharing the same name with the mythological version of him. See Page 12, Panel 1 below for my thoughts on who he is.

"Praet" is short for "praetorian." In Roman time the Praetorian Guard (cohors praetoria) were the bodyguards of the Roman Emperors.

Page 8.

Panel 2. Still more characters I don't recognize, or recognize but can't recall. On the right is visible Little Caesar, from the Little Caesar pizza chain. Partially obscured is the "Acropolis Now" restaurant, which Gene Ha says has a "completely obscured slogan, 'Eat one item and two will replace it,'" a riff on the mythological Hydra's regenerative ability and on the slogan of Marvel's criminal organization Hydra.

The vehicle that Briareus and Hercula ride in is drawn by two enormous sea horses, which in Greek mythology is the creature that Poseidon, god of the seas and horses, rides. Ronald Byrd notes that the technical term for these creatures is "hippocampus."

Ronald also notes the high-tech Trojan Horse car on the right.

Nick Ford points out that "the flying cloud woman has a flying cloud dog!" Nick also says that, "The giant in front of the Acropolis would appear to be Ray Harryhausen's creation Talos from 1963's Jason and the Argonauts, albeit miscoloured."

The "MWA" gang is made up of minotaurs. The "MWA" presumably stands for "Minotaurs With Attitude" (note what they're doing), much as the rap group NWA stood for "(N-word) With Attitude." Astrocitizen notes that the woman being roughed up by the gang appears to be an elderly Xena.

The two men in chains are what looks to me like Grant Morrison and Alan Moore, although Gene Ha has said he had no one in particular in mind for the first, non-Alan Moore, slave.

Page 9.

Panel 1. The "Atlas World Transport" is a reference to Atlas, who held the world on his shoulders. A number of people pointed out the "No Flying Horse Poop" sign.

Panel 2. The keen-eyed CleV and Ronald Byrd and Astrocitizen note that the front of the station house has a statuary group which includes Marvel's Thor kneeling in chains, being lorded over by someone who is accompanied by a hawk. Lou Mougin says, " In Moore's 1963 mini-series, the Thor analogue he created was Horus, a hawk-headed man-god who fought bad guys on Earth.  So, since this is Moore's comic book, he may be letting Horus lord it over Thor." Nathan Alderman says, "In addition to the frieze of Thor getting beaten up by a figure with a hawk (DC's Shining Knight?), the other frieze appears to show Wonder Woman getting punched out by another figure."

Panel 3. CleV points out that Midas has an obvious reason for not shaking hands. (Click on the link if you don't get the joke)

Panel 5. Ronald Byrd points out that "The Golden Guardsmen are wearing the faces of Tragedy and Comedy." Astrocitizen adds that "the faces of the robots are reminiscent not only of the Comedy & Tragedy masks, but also of special masks whose mouths acted as primitive loudspeakers; ancient Greek actors needed to wear these so their voices could be projected and heard."

Page 10.

Panel 1. In flight in the upper left is the Rocketeer. In the easy chair is the DC "New God" Metron, who usually sits in a much fancier chair. At the bottom of the panel, flying along wearing a hat, is the Marvel villain Annihilus. tphile notes that some of the robots in flight are the ones that Dell's Magnus, Robot Fighter slew. Nathan Alderman says, "The flying bomb robots-- could they be Fat Man and Little Boy?" "Fat Man" and "Little Boy" were codenames for the first two atomic bombs.

Page 11.

Panel 6. The "Miracle Douche Recall" headline on the newspaper is a reference to the "Marvel Douche" contretemps in Alan Moore's  League of Extraordinary Gentleman, when a real Victorian ad referring to a "Marvel Douche" was initially placed in the back of League only to cause DC to recall the issue for fear of offending Marvel Comics; it is also a reference to the Marvelman/Miracleman furor, when Marvel Comics forced Marvelman, which was written by Alan Moore, to change its name to Miracleman despite the "Marvelman" having been around for 40 years. (Thanks to Spider for correcting my error here)

CleV wonders about the identity of the new chef. It's Burger Chef.

Page 12.

Panel 1. Now that we can see Briareus' face, it's clear what he is: one of the Green Martians from Edgar Rice Burroughs' "John Carter, Warlord of Mars" stories.

Page 13.

Panel 2. The twins working out on the right are Romulus and Remus, the pair who were raised by wolves (note their tattooes) and helped found Rome. Ronald Byrd notes that "In retrospect we can guess that the figures in the center are the Carytid and Kid Sisyphus."

Nathan Alderman says, "The woman in the pool appears to be following the ancient Greek and Roman custom of bathing in olive oil, then scraping the oil off her body with the sickle she's holding."

Panel 3. I may be alone in this, but I've always thought that Technozoic was in some way a reference to Stephen Bissette's Tyrant, although it might also be a reference to Masashi Tanaka's Gon. Tom Wu says, " Technozoic is most likely a reference to the DC graphic novel Metalzoic, later serialized in 2000 AD comic over here in England. I think it was written by Pat Mills; it was definitely drawn by Kev O'Neill, and dealt with robot dinosaurs and the like. It's a good read." I've been trying since this issue came out to remember Metalzoic's name, and I'm relieved that someone did it for me.

Page 14.

Panel 1. The hawkwinged woman flying to her nest bears the crest (as do her children) of the Blackhawks, DC's heroic air aces. In her mouth she carries Mr Mind, the villainous worm who bedevilled Fawcett's Captain Marvel in the excellent "Monster Society of Evil" story arc. Several folks point out that she's also very similar to DC's Hawkwoman, or is perhaps a Thanagarian. Astrocitizen says, "She is almost certainly a Thanagarian, as one of her children’s rattle is shaped like a mace."

In flight are Cleopatra and the Bouncing Beatnik, two heroes of the Honor Guard from Kurt Busiek's Astro City. CleV notes the presence of their teammate Starwoman above them.

The giant figures to the right, drinking coffee at the "Kolossus Koffee Kounter," are Elasti-Girl, a member of DC's Silver Age Doom Patrol (although the version of that costume that I've seen is red and white, rather than yellow and blue) and an older version of Marvel's Goliath. BradW8 identifies the giant in the middle as Harvey's Stumbo the Giant.

The "Who's Supreme Now? Omnimall" billboard is a reference to Alan Moore's Supreme, in which the title character, a Superman homage, drew (in his civilian identity) a comic book about the adventures of Omniman, a Superman homage.

Nathan Alderman says, "The tiny janitor cleaning up spills at the Kolossal Koffee Kounter is the Knight Watchman, from Big Bang Comics. And where, for heaven's sake, are the Bouncing Beatnik's pants?"

Panel 2. A number of people pointed out that Reynard and the "Fox Flare" are a reference to Batman and the Bat-signal. Astrocitizen notes that Reynard was seen in issue #1 (page 2, panel 2) and issue #2 (page 13, panel 1).

Nathan Alderman points out that the two characters in the cell behind Smax are Concrete, from Dark Horse, and Rob Liefeld's Badrock.

Panel 3. Are the Uncle Remus stories really so obscure that I need to explain what a tar baby is?

Page 15.

Panel 1. CleV, among several others, noted the presence of Dennis Franz and Rick Schroeder, cast members of N.Y.P.D. Blue, here. Sir Deuce sees "Dr. Spectro, villain of DC's Captain Atom in the 80s" behind Rick Schroeder.

Panel 3. The shirt that Kemlo is wearing is for the "Underdog Club," which is a reference to Underdog.

Panel 5. Yes, that is McDonalds' Hamburglar.

Page 16.

Panel 1. I don't recognize most of the characters in the crowd. Gene Ha says of this panel that "the arena crowd was almost all from the script (including French and British characters I'd never heard of, much more obscure than Obie and Ast)."

The characters I did recognize:

Mike Schiffer points out that the woman walking down the aisle, selling popcorn, is Ceres, and that she's "carrying her wares in the Horn of Plenty. Which is to say, the cornucopia." tphile notes that the three figures in the lower left are Madeline Kahn, Gregory Hines, and Mel Brooks, from Brooks' The History of the World, Part 1. tphile also wonders if the two characters behind Marvin might be from Frank Millers' 300. Todd Kogutt notes DC's Mars and Ares walking across the aisle near the back, on the right. John Dorian and I disagree on whether the fan with the visor, to the left of Ceres' elbow, is Marvel's Cyclops, as John says, or Mike Baron's Nexus, as I think. Marcelo de Castro Bastos, Ronald Byrd, and Nick Ford point out that the skeletons are from Jason and the Argonauts (1963). F. Peneaud says that the character with the blond beard, next to Cyclops/Nexus, is "Ulysses 31, the main character from a French cartoon about a sci-fi version of Odysseus." Ricardo Sanchez noted the Ulysses 31 Information Resource Centre.

Panel 2. "Kid Sisyphus and his livin' friggin' boulder" is a reference to the legend of Sisyphus, who was doomed for his sins to forever roll a boulder up a hill and have it roll back to the bottom of the hill when he had reached the top.

Panel 3. A "caryatid," as we will see on Page 17, Panel 1, is a "A supporting column sculptured in the form of a draped female figure."

Page 19.

Panel 5. On the far left is Marvin, from the tv show Superfriends, about a version of DC's Justice League of America. Next to him are Tinker, Mark and Debbie from Speed Buggy. Waving to them is, I think, Judy Jetson, from the Jetsons tv show. Astrocitizen thinks that the green guy with the Afro is "the Shaggy knock-off from Jabberjaw." Behind them are the Hair Bear Bunch; I got this identification very wrong originally, but many people corrected me on it. Slouching along the street to the right is an out-of-shape, legs-unshaven Sailor Moon character.

Ronald Byrd, among others, points out the presence of the silhouetted Hiroshima lovers from Alan Moore's Watchmen in the Club Eternal windows.

Someone whose name I didn't get (sorry) said that the character on the far right, foreground, might be the titular character from The Mask.

Nathan Alderman says, "In the Club Eternal windows, right below the Hiroshima Lovers from Watchmen, look for the distinctive silhouette of Speed Racer striking his victory pose."

Page 20.

Panel 6. "Logo the Living Billboard" is a reference to Marvel's villainous Ego the Living Planet, who is a living planet.

Flying to the left are Electrocutioner (visible through the blinds), Annihilator, Iron Maiden (per Gene Ha), and Rat-Man, all creations of artist/writer Bill Willingham and three of whom (Iron Maiden excepted) appeared in his still-fondly-remembered Elementals.

Page 21.

Panel 1. David Goldfarb usefully translated "Pavo Rex" for us. It means "King Peacock." Trevor notes the presence of Isis, from the "Mighty Isis" tv show, on the far left. Rob Means wonders if it is Alan Moore's Promethea.

Page 22.

Panel 5. On the left are the Nite Owl (from Alan Moore's Watchman, here wearing his Arctic/winter outfit), DC's Owl-Man (from Earth-3), and Wildstorm's The Midnighter (from The Authority). (They're all analogues to Batman, if you didn't get the joke.) The Midnighter is hiding from what Batman is pointing out--the presence, on the right, of Apollo, the Midnighter's lover. Several people pointed out that the "post human" logo on the truck is a reference to the phrase for superhumans in Authority. Nathan Alderman points out that the character with the blue skin is Marvel's Morbius, the Living Vampire.

Page 23.

Panel 3. The upside-down comic on the table, Better Homes and Hideouts, has on its cover a picture of Superman's Silver Age Fortress of Solitude, which was made from ice (hence the headline "Ice, Ice Baby")  and a headline "First Look: Bratcave," a reference to Batman's Batcave.

The other magazine has a headline about "Reality-Warping Polyhedrons," which is a reference to Marvel Comics' Cosmic Cube, which is a reality-warping polyhedron.

Thanks to: Jason Adams, Nathan Alderman, Astrocitizen, Marcelo de Castro Bastos, Ronald Byrd, "Sir Deuce," John Dorian, David Goldfarb, Gene Ha, Karfan, Todd Kogut, Rob Means, F. Peneaud, Ricardo Sanchez, Mike Schiffer, Spider, tphile, CleV, Tom Wu.

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