While reading the first part of Alan Moore’s graphic novel Top 10 (2000-01), TM was pleasantly surprised to see that the West’s favorite Hindu deity, Ganesha, make a guest appearance.
Top 10 is a fine example of that hoary American tv genre, the police precinct show (Homicide: Life On The Streets, Dragnet), crossed with sci-fi fantasy. In the words of the back and inside cover blurbs:
Imagine a city where every citizen, from poorest slum-dweller to corporate honcho, has unusual powers and abilities – not to mention an alter ego and costume. How would you police such a city? Join the unusual law force of Neopolis on their day-to-day rounds and find out!
The massive, multilayered city of Neopolis, built shortly after World War II, was designed as a home for the expanding population of science-heroes, heroines and villains that had ballooned into existence in the previous decade. Bringing these powered beings together solved some problems but created others, especially after the inevitable partnerships led to a surge in their numbers in the 1960s. By the 1980s, Neopolis had turned into a pressure cooker – under financed and overpopulated – that normal policing methods could never hope to contain.
In 1985 the city accepted jurisdiction by a police force covering many alternate Earths, headquartered on the world known as ‘Grand Central.’ Our own outpost of this network, Precinct Ten (known affectionately as Top 10), recruits its members from Neopolis and environs, working much like Earth’s other police precincts, with one major exception: like the citizens of the city, the officers of Top 10 have the abilities needed to deal with Neopolis’s exotic denizens.
Join a colorful collection of Top 10 officers as they investigate a variety of events, from traffic accidents to treachery, and face their greatest challenge: an attack inside the heart of precinct headquarters! Solving these crimes will lead to other worlds and deep into the hidden corruptions of Neopolis, in a finale you won’t soon forget.
Anyway, in issue 7 of the trade paperbacks, the cops go to the Godz Bar on Pike Street to investigate a homicide. The Godz Bar seems to be the place where Gods from all pantheons hang out, & we have two Indian Gods among the Norse, Egyptian, Chinese, Greek, Aztec & other deities. In one, Ganesha is quitely sitting in a bar and finishing his drink as the cops complete their inspection of the premises. A few pages later, Krishna is in the men’s room, grooming himself with his many hands. The dialogue is in a faux-Hindi script (Krishna: “Hey, give me a break. You think all us blue guys know each other? Jeez!)”. The reference is humorous and intelligent, and Hindus (like me) don’t need to feel insulted. Looks like this was too insubstantial for the AHAD folks to bother with, but more likely, they don’t read comic books.
In his mammoth Promethea series, Moore shows he is very familiar with Hindu philosophy. Both Krishna and Indra make an appearance in Book 4 (“Fatherland”), and there are references to Indra’s net (“This is Indra’s net. See, Indra, he’s the Hindu sky-god, okay? And his net, it’s this infinite mesh of gleaming beads…and in every single bead, all the other beads are reflected, along with the reflections that are in them, going on forever. So, like, every part completely and perfectly reflects the whole. That’s Indra’s net…”) and kundalini. TM is still trying to understand what Indra’s net is. Indradhanush (‘Indra’s bow’)refers to a rainbow, but that doesn’t seem to be what Boo Boo is referring to as she guides the two Prometheas through a Kabbalastic sephiroth. TM needs storytellers and mythmasters, so that he can look and sound intelligent when asked about Hindu references.
Promethea is impossibly dense and after the first volume there is barely a plot, but I soldiered on. Alas, I never really appreciated the deep religious discourses through the middle books, and stopped only to enjoy the clever wordplay and J H Williams III’s beautiful drawings and layouts. The scene above is a two page spread that I had to scan separately.