By Leroy Douresseaux
May 6, 2007 - 13:43
Mr. Charlie #118 takes a look at Welcome to Tranquility #1, part of Wildstorm’s “Worldstorm” initiative. Why? Well, we’re focusing on women creators until the end of May… and Ms. Simone is the queen:
Since Watchmen, the superhero comic has looked in upon itself, digging in the same old holes to find new treasure. Creators, editors, publishers, and even fans over analyze every idea that was new in the Golden and Silver Ages, and the very few that were new in the so-called Bronze Age. The superhero has been examined from every angle possible, and the genre has seen so much of its traditional framework (or mythology) spun in the most novel ways.
We have superhero as politicians, as world police, as the former children of addicts (or as themselves addicts), as secret agents, special operatives and government assassins, and even as government flunkies. Quite a few people involved with either the X-Men films or comic books have even had the audacity to compare Professor X with Dr. Martin Luther King and Magneto with Malcolm X (when there are hardly any colored folks in the X-Men). We’ve had superheroes as covert operatives, and the Caped Crusader is now “the most dangerous man alive.” Maybe, it’s OK for superheroes to just be… superheroes, but where would the fun be if the genre had stayed the same as it was 40, 50, 60, or 70 years ago.
So now we have a comic book about intrigue in a retirement village for former superheroes, from a woman who through the sheer force of her talent has captured the attention of comics’ male dominated audience.
In the world of Welcome to Tranquility, a new comic book series from Gail Simone and Neil Googe, which debut late last year, superheroes – called “maxi’s” here – retire to the quaint community of Tranquility. But even these heroes of the Golden Age of maxi’s can’t quite find peace and quiet when they withdraw from active life.
The series opens with Tranquility’s Sheriff Thomasina Lindo entertaining reporter Collette Pearson. Pearson tells the Sheriff that all she wants to do is “share your lovely little town with America,” but what she really wants is scandal, and Ms. Pearson sure will get it. It begins when geriatric and slightly senile aviator Minxy Millions crashes her Minxy Motor Plane into the middle of town. Try as she might, Sheriff Lindo can’t get Tranquility’s Mayor Fury, formerly the Batman-like Judge Fury to ground “America’s dearest aviator,” especially since her airplane designs won the war (I’m assuming WWII). Minxy, we also learn, is super filthy rich, and still has friends in the highest places of American government.
Sheriff Lindo then moves Pearson to a local eating establishment to meet some more of the town’s colorful denizens. That would include the former Maximum Man, the most powerful maxi. Maximum Man was also a normal guy, an accountant, in fact, but one day, he forgot the magic word that would transform him into a maxi. Now, he’s a frail old man reading one dictionary after another in hopes of rediscovering the word that will return him to maxi-glory.
It is at the restaurant where this opening chapter finally hits its first stride. In addition to meeting heroic geezers including a former lover of the Sheriff’s, Pearson witnesses the appearance of a quintet of new jacks, whose arrival causes a fight to break out. By the time things are settled down, someone is dead, and we’re left waiting for the next issue.
I wouldn’t think to call Welcome to Tranquility a great series, but it certainly has that necessary quality works of fiction must have – it intrigues. Where is Simone going with this? I would in fact like to know. Simone introduces a colorful cast of characters (although that’s a dime a dozen), but I like the way she quietly yet intricately ties this diverse body of players together.
Artist Neil Googe is clearly anime and manga-inspired. He has trouble drawing a nose that don’t scream attention to itself, but his style may set the right tone for Simone’s oddly comic, offbeat superhero mystery/conspiracy series.
Until there is a trade paperback collection, Welcome to Tranquility is only available in comic book shops and perhaps bookstores that sell comics. As of this writing, DC/Wildstorm has published six issues. The Comic Shop Locater Service phone number is 1-888-COMIC BOOK.
I write movie reviews at http://www.negromancer.com.