What a crazy title: The Ten-Seconders – what the hell does that even mean? Well, according to this first volume, it’s the estimated time that a human would survive in the presence of a super-powered-being. Based on the name of the books and small description that Diamond Previews gave me, I had little clue what I was really getting into when I pre-ordered the first and hopefully not last volume of The Ten-Seconders. It is an excellent examination of American comics, specifically American super-hero comics, which is the majority of what we, the American comic audience have come to expect from the medium.
While it has some obvious parallels to another British-rooted comic that heavily comments on American comic book archetypes (The Watchmen), The Ten-Seconders definitely sets itself apart by meeting contemporary expectations of violence, pace and storytelling. This title is essentially a dystopian, post-apocalyptic, outside-looking-in examination of/spoofing of American comics. The notes in the back of the book say as much. But, for an industry that is so clogged with overly-optimistic, indiscriminately-easy story-lines and characters, some post-modern examination, if echoing similar thoughts from 20+ years ago deserves a warm welcome.
In the face of the majority of American comic book title sales coming from The Big 2: character licensing companies mostly interested in maintaining character archetypes that can easily be sold to film-makers and soft, if large audiences, it is refreshing to see someone from outside the canon saying something relatively new about these same paradigms. The Ten-Seconders is, in ways what “Before Watchmen” can only wet-dream about being: more of a follow-up to Watchmen than many other comic book titles available in the market today. The Ten-Seconders, continues in a legacy of not only the seeing the archetypes generated by the The Big 2 and perpetuated by The Watchmen, but in a legacy of originality via portraying these same prototypes in a way that could have only been conceived by the new creative team. I look forward to reading more books published outside the United States, about the US comic book industry.