My Favorite Superhero Story of 2007

My Favorite Superhero Story of 2007 appeared in Welcome to Tranquility #11.

Welcome to Tranquility #11 cover

Ignore the lead story. I’m talking here about the six-page backup “Right to Left, Back to Front” by Gail Simone and Irene Flores. That’s the phrase the heroine uses to describe herself, about how she feels every day. She’s got a normal family, no traumatic events in her background, but she knows she’ll never be “popular, funny, beautiful.” In other words, she’s a teenager like many of us were.

Since this is set in Tranquility, she’s got energy growths coming out of her back, but that’s not terribly unusual for her town. (In fact, I’m really stretching the definition of “superhero story” here.) Her life truly changes when she finally discovers a comic that speaks to her: a magical girl manga. From her monologue:

I’d never read a manga before. I’d tried regular comics… goofy nonsense about flying musclemen and trampy women without personalities. But this! This was transformative.

It inspires her to read and reach out and learn. Japanese, kanji, karate, and sumie (a style of painting). She’s no longer afraid of the world or other people because her love of her hobby envelops her. What’s wonderful about this story is the way it captures the way the right book can change someone’s world and shape their personality for the better.

And at the end, she wants to become a manga artist. The story begets creativity in others.


3 Responses to “My Favorite Superhero Story of 2007”

  1. Journalista - the news weblog of The Comics Journal » Blog Archive » Dec. 12, 2007: A contemptuous wave of his hand Says:

    [...] Johanna Draper Carlson on Gail Simone and Irene Flores’ “Right to Left, Back to Front,” the back-up [...]

  2. Jeff Morris Says:

    I have to laugh about this; I pointed this very story out to my manga/anime-crazed daughter, and she rolled her eyes. “I hate that character,” she said.

    “Why’s that?”

    Eye roll again. “All the guys in the anime club keep talking about how hot she is.”

  3. Sci Fi/Virgin Comics Announce Superbia » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    [...] concept of superheroes’ domestic lives isn’t new, ranging from the recent Welcome to Tranquility way back to the 1980s Mr. Miracle series that spun out of that era’s Justice League. Still, [...]




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