Since the Top is not an especially popular character, occasionally I get asked why I like him or people seem to be incredulous that anyone could. I figured it was finally time to write a short essay about it. This isn’t necessarily intended to change other people’s minds about him; of course he has a ton of flaws and I’m well aware he’s not particularly appealing to most people. It’s just an explanation of what I like about him.
I first developed an interest when reading some short biography, which stated to the effect “He taught himself to spin at high speeds, and the spinning increased his intelligence”. Frankly, I was delighted by the sublime ridiculousness of it, and can’t understand why some people consider that aspect of his origin to be a negative thing. I enjoy at least a bit of silliness and light-heartedness in superhero comics, a genre that by definition has some inherent goofiness.
I admire that he’s very much self-made. He taught himself about tops and the physics of rotation, taught himself how to spin, and built all of his own wide-ranging inventions. His genius intellect and psionic powers were unexpected gifts, but also the result of his own achievement (spinning). His repeated escapes from Hell and returns from the dead seem to have been the result of his own cleverness and stubbornness; he decided he wanted to come back, so he went and did it. He has a hell of an ego, but you can see why.
Relating to the previous point, I enjoy his history as a ghost. It wasn’t part of his original character concept, but adds nicely to it. Plenty of characters seem to magically return from the dead in a convenient new body or are revealed to never have died, but he definitely died and is still expressly a ghost who needs a host body to interact with people. That’s relatively unique, particularly amongst characters not clustered in DC’s supernatural-themed books.
He’s interesting. His spinning power is fairly unique, particularly when you remember that he precedes most other spinning characters in comics. He’s intelligent, acerbic, and eccentric, which I like. His costume is kind of goofy, but it’s unique too and I’m fond of it. And I like his relationship with the Golden Glider, which was oddly sweet despite both being fairly crazy and neither particularly cuddly individually. They genuinely seemed to love and care for each other.
People may find this odd, but to some extent I identify and sympathize with him. I’m not seriously insane, but have my own mental health issues. I (hopefully) haven’t systematically alienated everyone I know, but have always struggled to fit in and been rejected more times than I’d like. Modern Roscoe is actually a somewhat pathetic figure — far too mentally ill and arrogant for his own good, having pissed off pretty much everyone and utterly alone; and on a metafictional level, even the fans and creators mostly dislike him. Geoff Johns has said that his favourite moment writing the Rogues was killing the Top, and that he’d always wanted to do it. I find it difficult not to have sympathy for the character after that. During Johns’ first run, there are two occasions when Roscoe seems to be genuinely trying to connect with the other Rogues, and they (for fairly good reasons) completely reject him. But he probably doesn’t realize they are good reasons, and is the one on the receiving end of it. Any socially awkward person can relate to that.
As it happens, most of my favourite characters are villains, although I don’t quite know why. I think I’ve always resented being told who to root for in a story, possibly related to my own social isolation. You watch enough popular people always getting cheered on while everyone else is sidelined, and eventually start to like the other misfits.
Finally, I’d be remiss if I didn’t admit to being fond of unpopular characters. I never deliberately gravitate towards them, but it happens often enough that it’s an observable trend. They aren’t necessarily ones who are hated per se, but often don’t have a lot of fans and aren’t headliners. I once noted that most of my favourite comic characters are dead, and an acquaintance retorted that it’s what I get for not liking big names like Spider-Man and Batman. In all honesty they don’t appeal to me much, and I don’t see why I should expect to be ‘punished’ for liking more minor characters or ones that aren’t particularly popular.
So in summation, these are the aspects I enjoy about the Top, and I hope this makes clear why I like him. I find him compelling, and yes, oddly likeable despite his many faults. Ultimately there will always be people who don’t understand why you relish a character (or a genre), and you can’t let it stop you.
 even if we limit the discussion only to Rogues, the others have been resurrected by Neron, the White Entity, or stayed dead.
 Favourite Rogue Moment:
“I knew I wanted a couple of Rogues to die in ‘Rogue War’ and I always wanted Captain Cold to get in there and kill the Top. Top is an elitist, he’s a snob, he thinks he’s better than everybody, so to have a bruiser like Cold just freeze him and shatter him, that’s a moment I found very satisfying and wanted the readers to as well.” –Geoff Johns, interview in The Flash Companion (page 172)