‘Lost in the Longbox’ with Brad Gischia, Episode 11

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Welcome to Tranquility: One Foot in the Grave #1
(DC Comics / Wildstorm, 2010)

WRITTEN BY:  Gail Simone
ARTWORK BY:  Horacio Domimgues
COLOR ARTWORK BY:  Jonny Rench

Greetings from the Wasteland!

Most comic fans know of the recent trials of Gail Simone.  The fan-favorite writer of Batgirl was fired from one of DC’s most popular bat-books only to be re-hired after overwhelming outrage forced them to realize that she was doing the job they had hired her to do.  Make Batgirl popular.  But before that, before the New 52, Ms. Simone penned a comic for the DC imprint, WildStorm, called Welcome To Tranquility: One Foot in the Grave.  This is a return to the town of Tranquility for Simone, who created the Oregon retirement community in 2006 with Neil Googe.

Tranquility takes a look at the Buisek-ian (have I coined a phrase here?  Just in case, I copyright that:) idea, and adds the twist that the super hero-filled town is a retirement community.  How would they interact with each other, run their government, solve a crime against one of their own?

The story opens with a magazine cover, a picture of the Mayor Fury, who has been imprisoned and tried for the attempted murder of a reporter.  The jury found him not guilty, and this is the day of his release.  The public is overjoyed at the turn of events.  The sheriff…not so much.  At one time she looked on him as a father figure, but doesn’t trust him any further than she can throw him.  She isn’t super-powered as far as the first issue goes, but that doesn’t make her back down from him.

His wife runs the local diner, and although the mayor is portrayed as a cad, she still loves him and is throwing him a welcome home party.  Cut to the park, where a couple of heroes are playing chess and discussing the murder of one of their fellows, Mister Articulate, by…guess who?  Mayor Fury.  It seems that all the heroes know about this murder, but it wasn’t one he was charged with.

The sheriff is taking Mayor Fury to his party, and a mysterious creature smashes their car off of the road with a tree, and then appears to offer aid to the distraught mayor.

Back at the party, the story closes out with the arrival of a surprise guest, Mister Articulate, who appears very un-dead. (By which I mean, never having died, not a zombie.  That would be a completely different story, and Simone already features a couple of zombie-like characters, so it would also be redundant.)

This issue is a good jump in to the story, with a great ending that will draw you into issue two.  The town is filled with the brightly colored characters you would expect from a town filled with super heroes, as well as dark brooders like the Coyote Kid, a vengeance-oriented character.  If you doubted Gail Simone’s credence as a comic writer, then you only have to look at this stellar work from three years ago to know that she will be around comics for a long time to come.

Horacio Domingues has a long history of great work, from work on such books as Victorian Undead and Dr. Who, to Transformers: Dark Side of the Moon.  He continues in that vein here, with an animated style that makes the book playful despite its’ sometimes serious nature.

Welcome to Tranquility is just another in Simone’s deep archive, but one that I will keep an eye out for in the longboxes next time I’m at my local comic shop.

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Follow Brad Gischia on Twitter:  @comicwasteland

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