The Movement #1 by Gail Simone – Double Review [Shadowhawk/Bane of Kings]
Shadowhawk and Bane of Kings review the first issue of a brand-new series for DC’s New 52 initiative.
“An awesome series opener, Gail Simone kicks off what is hopefully the first in a very strong series of comics for DC’s New 52!” ~Bane of Kings
“Wonderful execution with tantalising hints at what’s to come next, this is a great intro issue that packs a lot in a tiny frame.” ~Shadowhawk
Bane of Kings:
Art: Freddie E Williams III | Cover: Amanda Connor & Cliff Chiang
We are faceless. We are limitless. We see all. And we do not forgive.
Who defends the powerless against the GREEDY and the CORRUPT? Who protects the homeless and poverty-stricken from those who would PREY upon them in the DARK OF NIGHT?
When those who are sworn to protect us abuse their power, when toxic government calls down super-human lackeys to force order upon the populace…finally, there is a force, a citizen’s army, to push order BACK.
Let those who abuse the system know this as well: We have our OWN super humans now. They are not afraid of your badges or Leagues. And they will not be SILENCED.
We are your neighbours. We are your co-workers. And we are your children.
I’ll admit, the main reason why I gave The Movement a chance was Gail Simone. I haven’t encountered Freddie E Williams II before in comics as far as I can remember, but Gail Simone has been fantastic in her first volume of Batgirl that I’ve read. Whilst the reaction so far for this issue has been receiving a little bit of mixed criticism (Comic Book Resources gave it a 1.5/5 whilst Comic Vine gave this a 4/5), I actually enjoyed it. It’s got a simple plot, but manages to introduce a new team of streetborn superheroes with some interesting look at how people go about fighting crime when they don’t have either the money of Bruce Wayne, or the origin of Clark Kent.
If the main reason behind me picking up The Movement was Gail Simone, the second reason is because its characters I’ve literally never heard of before. Tremor, Mouse, Virtue, Katharsis – all the characters here are fresh, exciting and introduced in such a way that doesn’t feel overcrowded or confusing. The group is diverse and exciting and from what I’ve seen at the moment, they’re unlike any current team that can be found in comics today – very different from the Justice League and the Uncanny Avengers to name two examples. It’ll be certainly interesting to see if this series can continue from its strong first issue and Gail Simone manages to hit top notch here. However, the characters themselves are flawed – they come across as really unlikeable at times, but then – that could easily be attributed to the fact that they’re angry teenagers rebelling against the status quo.
Everyone who’s been following comics news will know that The Movement is the ‘99%’ and the Occupy half of the two new ongoing series of comics from DC. The other half is The Green Team, an issue which debuted this week and one that I enjoyed – however, Gail Simone’s The Movement #1 has to come out on top for me.
The artwork from Williams III is pretty strong here to, very distinct and eye-catching. Gritty, with audacious character designs; he really enhances the comic here and greatly adds to the experience when you’re reading it. Like most of the book, his art was met with mixed reactions, but like most of this issue, I enjoyed it, and I hope that it’ll last – the concept is engaging and I look forward to see where Simone takes the reader in future issues and how this compares with The Green Team, and whether there will be any crossovers involved or not.
I make no secret of the fact that right now, Gail Simone is one of the top writers working in the comics industry right now, as far as I’m concerned. Alongside Scott Snyder, Mike Costa, Brian Wood, Chuck Dixon, Christos Gage, Tom Sniegoski, Geoff Johns and others, I can always depend on Gail to turn out a great book month-to-month. When I first heard about her new series, announced shortly after the whole fiasco in December last year, I was unsure if I would be picking up the book, the main reason being that it was said this would be touching on the Occupy Movement from a superhero perspective and taking things from there on. Its a touchy political subject and while Gail has done great at incorporating real-world themes in her various books like Birds of Prey, Batgirl, and Secret Six, I wasn’t sure how she would approach this particular topic.
After the fact that I did go out, pick up the first issue and read it, I have to say that I’m quite intrigued with how things have turned out. This is only the intro issue of the series, and so there isn’t a lot of development and information front-loading, Gail still managed to hook me right in with her characters and the teaser events that happen within the pages.
In superheroes like Katharsis, Virtue, Mouse, Tremor, Burden and others, Gail has created characters who are as different as you can get from the “known” superheroes like Superman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Batman, Green Lantern, Green Arrow, Martian Manhunter, Catwoman, Zatanna, Deadman and others. And if you notice, there are no “-man” and “-woman” names here either, and Gail has gone for single word monikers for the principal cast of characters. That’s an important point f distinction for the book.
We get introduced to pretty much all the characters in the book, and so it can feel a bit cluttered at times, but the glimpse of team dynamics and the motivations of the characters are made clear enough. On top of that, Gail shows that these characters form a team where they all look out for each other, the old cliche of “we take care of our own”. I use the word cliche here but I don’t mean it in a dismissive way at all. Its one of the cliches that I love, because it always adds a lot to the characters in a positive way and is a great simple way of establishing brotherhood/sisterhood.
As far as the Occupy Movement style events are concerned, Gail has gone the extra mile and has made it clear that there are some momentous events at work here. In the very first issue, it is established that the Movement is taking over the ‘Tweens and will serve its own brand of justice in this area of the city. Even cops are not welcome here since they are powerless to do anything. As one of the characters says to a senior cop: “We’ll protect this people. Lord knows you never managed”. One of the other characters, Katharsis, has an excellent scene towards the end where she deals with a corrupt case and gets quite… physical with him. The Movement is not going to play nice with people in authority who abuse their power, and their brand of justice is going to be on the harsh side.
In terms of the art, there are a few niggles. Freddie Williams II generally has a good eye for character expressions, panel set-up and the like, and his scenes are almost always full of details, but he can’t seem to get character poses right a lot of the time. His female characters, while not wearing the sexualised costumes that Wonder Woman, Starfire, Black Canary or others do, are shown in some ridiculous poses. And ridiculous as in they are shown in perky poses with T&A being emphasised. It just seems really odd. And a few of the panels have a confusing composition, with a lack of consistency from one panel to the next. So the art, overall, could be a fair bit better, and hopefully he can improve in the next few issues. Chris Sotomayor’s colours don’t exactly pop out either, and are a bit on the dull side, but the book remains a visual treat nonetheless. The second half of the book definitely clicks together in that respect and offers a nice balance between the dull and the bright, with neither being overstated or understated.
All in all, The Movement #1 is going on my monthly pull-lists for sure, and I look forward to the second issue.