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The Movement #1 – Review

THE MOVEMENT #1

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.

Grade: C+

- 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.

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12 Responses

  1. Seriously? The septic train-wreck that was Occupy Wall Street has become the inspiration for a bunch of DC super heroes? Sorry…”Super-Powered Activists” (my how noble). And lo and behold, they’re not the bad guys..they’re the good guys?

    Let me see if I got this right…rapes, drug abuse, outbreaks of disease, public defecation, mobs, destruction of public and private property, arbitrary demands for wealth-redistribution, calls for the destruction of capitalism, calls for government take over of private enterprises, calls for outrageous taxation and confiscation..ad nauseum..all hallmarks of the OWS disaster… and Gail Simone finds this noble and inspiring enough to transform this “movement” (I’m so tempted to put “bowel” infront of “movement”) into fictional super heroes?

    Shall I hold my breath for the obligatory “you have my blessing but I’m watching you” Issue where Batman or Superman makes an appearance to “assess” these “heroes” of the proletariate? Oh wait that’s so 20th century…”the 99%”..my bad.

    When did black become white and up become down to Gail Simone?

    Why do we have to romanticize the ugly, marxist, human debris of OWS and it’s ilk?

    • Frank Miller, is that you?

      Are these criticisms based on an actual reading of the book or just of the premise? Given the intensely gray tones of Secret Six and the first issue itself, I suspect things will not be so simple.

      • I didn’t buy the book, I browsed it at the comic book store out of sheer, morbid curiosity. I had absolutely no intention of buying a book so obviously gushing for Occupy Wall Street and the human debris that make up it’s numbers. Despite OWS’s best efforts we can still exercise our right to choose rather then be told what we will own and not own.

        I’d also read the advance blurbs for the title in the various DC titles it was advertised in…it goes something like this I believe …will “The Movement” be the cool, super-powered, caring, “for the people” activist protectors of the oppressed “99%” they’re setting out to be or will their actions set them back before they even get started?”. Of course this isn’t verbatim, it’s my admittedly snarky encapsulation of what was said.

        So let’s not mince words this “grey area” you’re alluding to…will be mostly white washed away within a story arc or two making our OWS-esque offal the heroes of the prolitariate..sorry..99% Simone wants them to be. In effect, where leftists and anarchists keep falling short in the real world, people like Simone will put them on pedestals for propaganda purposes in the imaginary world where she has control of the narrative and can manipulate the truth. Young minds right?

        So when do you think Batman or Superman will arrive in Coral City for the obligatory “ok..you guys can keep doing what you’re doing but I’m watching you” nod of approval and cred check? I’m pretty certain it will be after “The Movement” save one of their tails from a horrible 1%-er and prove how noble and worthy they are….no?

        • I don’t care whether you bought the book – only whether you read it before criticizing it as oppose to criticizing the hype and perceived premise. While it may eventually go in the direction you fear (time will tell, and I am far from sold on this book), the book I read did not match up to the ideological bogeyman you have constructed out of the PR statements. Read the book (use a library when trade comes out if you don’t want to pay for it) and then let’s continue this discussion.

        • I have to join with David’s call for caution here, Tel. I think it’s too early to make any hard or fast conclusion as to what Simone will actually do with this story, much less say that it’s an obvious analogy for Occupy. While I have my own doubts about the premise of the series, I’m happy to stay them while it’s still in the process of being written.

    • I think maybe I should have been clearer in my reference to the Occupy movement. I’m just saying that the Movement is a reaction to Occupy, perhaps conceptually influenced by it, but I think it’s an overstatement to say that the Movement actually is Occupy done superhero style. From the one issue we’ve seen thus far, this is not a situation where a group has taken over a community against its will, but rather a community taking responsibility for itself, with the Movement as their policing arm.

      I do think it’s inevitable that one of the more “legit” superheroes will show up to pass judgment on the team, but I’ll evaluate it when it happens.

      I really don’t think Simone is somehow justifying or promoting Occupy in any way.

  2. I really enjoyed this 1st issue. I knew nothing about it, except that Gail Simone was doing it. It was refreshing to read about new characters in a new setting – not the usual Justice League crowd. Freddie Williams was eye-opening. He has a style that’s rough-scrappy crossed with cartoony – very appealing, almost indie. It’s nice this book is trying something new.

    • I’m not sure I’d classify Williams’ art as indie, but I do like to try series that go beyond your usual superhero suspects, especially if they’re fairly new.

  3. The problem with this book is that it lacks any subtlety whatsoever with characters like “Burden” and “Virtue” and the whole situation with the cops. I consider myself a pretty leftist person but this book hammers you over the head with its politics and is very blatant.

    • I’m not sure the politics were so cut-and-dried. “Bad Lieutenant” situation aside, the police were not generally portrayed as “villains.” They were shown reacting appropriately to the threat of Burden and the killer, and not going Amadou Diallo on Tremor when she threatened them. Though it was a rough issue for the police captain, who, frustrations aside, seemed to be pretty well-intentioned. If Virtue told him about the affair out of spite, her moniker may be wildly inappropriate (which, knowing Simone, is likely the intention). I got more of a “shades of grey” vibe from both sides.

      A fair start but the jury remains way out on this one – could be great, could be crap. I was more sympathetic to the art though. Never encountered Williams before, but his rough, squashy pencils had a vaguely Sam Kieth aesthetic I liked, though nowhere near on Kieth’s level.

      • I think that’s a good point, that the cops here aren’t all across the board horrible people, and the Movement certainly aren’t the most clean-cut, noble figures. There’s definitely room for the story to develop into something complicated and worthwhile, without getting couched in oversimplified generalities.

    • I definitely agree that names like “Burden” and “Virtue” are so pointed that it’s hard not to roll your eyes at what Simone’s going for, but since this is just a first issue, there’s a possibility they’ll take on more complexity and nuance over time.

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