Welcome to Tranquility #1
by Gail Simone, Neil Googe (WildStorm, 2006)

Tranquility is a small American town where superheroes -- and a fair number of supervillains -- have gone to retire for a few quiet years with their families. It's a peaceful place, where former arch-foes can sit down for a cup of coffee and a slice of pie in the local diner or chat over the picket fence without pummeling one another into insensibility.

Of course, if that was the extent of this book, it would be pretty dull fare.

A simple brawl between some elderly former heroes and a band of young toughs with something to prove turns disastrous when one of the heroes -- the elegant and refined Mr. Articulate -- is murdered with the blade of his own sword cane. That leaves the town's sheriff -- a young woman without any powers of her own -- to solve the crime.

The story isn't earthshaking in its originality, but it's a good concept that is exceptionally well executed. Writer Gail Simone has stamped unique, recognizable personalities on a diverse and numerous cast, and it's a real pleasure getting to know them. Neil Googe supplies the art, and it's another strong motivator for reading the book. Slightly cartoony, it suits the tone of the story perfectly -- and his "flashback" comic pages from the heroes' earlier careers are a hoot.

Plus, I figured out the big mystery early on in the book -- and was entirely wrong. I solved it a second time -- and blew it again. That's a good mystery.

review by
Tom Knapp

13 December 2008

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