Gail Simone has been a regular on my pull list, thanks to her consistently top-notch work on comics like The Atom, Birds of Prey, Secret Six and, yes, Wonder Woman. But when my LCS owner asked me if I’d been reading Welcome to Tranquility, I stammered.
“If you’re a fan of hers, you should be reading this comic,” he said. “It’s her baby.”
Anyone who’s familiar with Simone’s writing knows that she does funny and macabre very well, often within a single panel. Those talents are on full display in Welcome to Tranquility, a Wildstorm comic about a town inhabited by retired superheroes and villains. And what a cast. There’s Minxy Minerva, a daffy millionaire and former child pilot prodigy who crashes frequently. Emoticon is a young troublemaker who wears a mask displaying text symbols that reveal his mood: smiley faces, for instance. Mayor Alex Fury, the former leader of a Justice Society-type group, presides over the town of Tranquility and lives with his wife and fellow former hero/pinup Pink Bunny.
In the middle of it all is beloved Sheriff Thomasina “Tommy” Lindo, who eschews profanity and instead blurts out words like “bull doody.” Personally, I’m stoked to see a black female comics character in a leading role. Sheriff Lindo is the glue and conscience of Tranquility, perhaps the most ironically named town ever. This place is anything but peaceful, roiling with secrets, intrigue, juicy backstories and crazy developments, which result in good read.
You could easily start with the first three issues of the latest storyline, “One Foot in the Grave,” but I’d suggest going all the way back to Vol. 1, which launched in 2006. This is where the characters and their motivations are fleshed out, and where the arrival of two journalists sets off the town’s alarm bells. (And thanks, Gail, for not making journalists look evil. We appreciate it.)
There’s also a nifty subplot involving the Liberty Snots (formerly the Tranquili-teens), a band of young heroes that has shed its clean-cut, TV show image and gone Goth. And punk. Simone has a lot of fun with old-school comic book tropes, like random product-placement ads, one-page gags and “Scooby Doo”-like stories featuring the Tranquili-teens in their G-rated heyday.
Though Wildstorm is soon to be no more, Simone told Newsarama that the current series has been completed, and that the remaining issues will be published as planned. So go ahead and dive in.
Want more suggestions? Check out the lesser-known titles reviewed on these blogs and Read Them, Too:
Adam Strange at It’s a Dan’s World
American Vampire at Doom Patrol
Astro City at K-Squared Ramblings
Booster Gold and Zatanna at Red Tornado’s Path
Essential Man-Thing at Firestorm Fan
Forgetless at Girls Gone Geek
Franklin Richards Digests at Once Upon a Geek
Glamourpuss at Being Carter Hall
Peter David’s Hulk at Fortress of Baileytude
Jonah Hex at Boosterrific
R.E.B.E.L.S. at Indigo Tribe
Scott Pilgrim at Toyriffic
Son of Tomahawk and Thor the Mighty Avenger at Aquaman Shrine
Spelljammer at HeroPress
Spire Christian Comics at Mail it to Team-Up
Strange Science Fantasy at Siskoid’s Blog of Geekery
The Unwritten at Speed Force