By: Gail Simone (story), Freddie Williams II (art), Chris Sotomayor (colors)
The Story: Nothing like making a difference in your community by taking it over altogether.
The Review: Ah, Simone. Even though I haven’t shown it lately, I do admire the lady very much. More than her status as DC’s leading female writer, she’s written some great comics in her time, admired by men and women alike across the entire spectrum of pulp readers. I’m happy to see that after years of being an underrated critical darling, she’s finally getting some popular success with Batgirl (presently the biggest-selling, female-written title in the stands).
That said, I mostly feel that Batgirl is a hit based on its branding rather than its actual quality as a sample of Simone’s work. Though Barbara Gordon may be something of a dream come true for Simone the fangirl, I don’t think the character does much for Simone the writer. Both Secret Six and Birds of Prey demonstrated pretty clearly that Simone thrives in the murky waters of morality, attacking every supposed division between right and wrong with the razor-sharp eagerness of a shark.
In that respect, The Movement sounds like a better outlet for Simone. It places her in the seediest, most downtrodden part of Coral City, the “‘Tweens,” a setting so grimly urban that it makes the alleyways of Gotham look friendly and inviting by comparison. The cops here aren’t on the take, but they display their corruption in other ways, wielding their power to get away with some rather shocking abuses.
The problem is that Simone wants to evoke the sense of a city skirting on the edge of dysfunction, but what you actually get out of this issue are just two very bad cops. It would’ve been more effective had we gotten more evidence of the problems infecting the ‘Tweens, but instead we must infer what we can from the Movement’s bitter remarks. “We’ll protect these people,” one of their members tells police captain Hoss. “Lord knows you never managed.”
Speaking of, the heroes of this series are a funny-looking bunch, made up entirely of Simone’s original creations, kind of a standout feature in itself. Some we’ve seen before in her other works: the techno-winged Katharsis from Batgirl’s “Knightfall” arc and Tremor, a snooty recurring character from Secret Six. Others, like Mouse, the “prince of rats,” and Virtue, the emotion-riding leader of the team, are completely new. We only get the briefest introductions to the characters, and none manage to strike your fancy immediately within that limited space.
Simone does manage to check off two crucial tasks for any “pilot”: get across the general tone and M.O. of the series and set up some long-term plotlines to carry the story forward for a while. The Movement is clearly a superheroic reaction to the Occupy philosophy, a group of individuals fed up with the uneven distribution of power and seizing it for themselves using the force of community outreach. What they lack in clear guidelines for action, they make up for by relying on their better instincts, taking in a disturbed young man with frightening powers as one of their own. It remains to be seen whether their ideals will be enough to take down the Cornea Killer, a murderer at large within their area.
It’s been a long time since I’ve seen Williams’ work and unfortunately, I can’t say it’s grown much since I shrugged it off in Green Lantern Corps #63. If anything, it looks as if it might have regressed. There’s a squashy, Play-Doh quality to the way he draws characters which really kills any kind of tension Simone tries to generate in her story. In both his approaches to storytelling and action, he captures all the most pedestrian qualities of DC’s house style of art, sapping even the earthshaking effects of Tremor’s tectonic shifting. Sotomayor’s colors are appropriately dark and muted, but can do little to improve the situation.
Conclusion: An adequate opening to an unusual series, severely hampered by cartoony art which cannot possibly do justice to Simone’s attempts at seriousness.
– Minhquan Nguyen
Some Musings: – Wow, rough day for Captain Hoss. Can’t fire the two goons on his payroll; gets schooled by a group of kid vigilantes; and finds out his wife is cheating on him with his own right-hand man. No wonder he gets so surly with Virtue.