Warren Ellis made a comment relative to our fascination with superheroes (from an interview published in Voyage in Noise) to the effect that "we rely on them to save us, when we should be saving ourselves." Gail Simone has taken that idea and run with it in The Movement.
Simone has been one of my favorite comics writers for a while now, ever since I read her Secret Six series. She has a way of making her characters very real – they’re not all sweetness and light, but they’re not morbidly self-absorbed. In The Movement, she brings us a bunch of teenagers with particular abilities who have decided to take Coral City – or their part of it, the “Tweens,” the area between Tenth and Twentieth Streets – back from a corrupt police force and uncaring city government. They wind up taking on not only the police department, but City Hall and ultimately, the man who is actually running things, even though he holds no formal office. Then, they tangle with Batgirl, who comes to Coral City in pursuit of a fugitive – who isn’t really a criminal. And finally, they defeat the Cornea Killer, who has been killing the homeless and taking their eyes.
Simone’s ability with character is in full evidence here, not only with the team members – a group of misfits who’ve banded together as much because they have no place else to go as for any other reason – but, most tellingly, the villain in chief, James Cannon, the aforementioned man who’s really in charge, who ultimately turns out to be a man who bit off more than he could chew – not the Movement, but his chief tool for “cleaning up” his city. (In this and the general setting, the series reminds me somewhat of the TV series Arrow.) Simone also leaves room for some humor, mostly revolving around Mouse, who is one of the more off-the-wall characters I've ever seen.
The story arcs are good and tight, but there’s room for some history as we learn who these kids are and how they got here. Dialogue is sharp and to the point, and even the narration tells us what we need to know and no more.
Freddie Williams II did the art, and it’s right on target – comic realism, leaning a bit toward the comic but not enough to undercut the realism. Chris Sotomayor’s color is apt, a little dark, but it fits the setting and mood. Narrative flow is good – the layouts are not rigid, with a fair amount of overlapping frames, but it’s always clear. All in all, we’re treated to some nice, juicy visuals.
Sadly, the series didn’t get the fan support it deserved – which means, in the world of comic publishing, that sales weren’t good enough – so it ends rather abruptly with #12.
If you’re interested in my reaction to Secret Six, the reviews are at Sleeping Hedgehog – look for Gail Simone under “Reviews: Graphic Lit" in the sidebar.
(DC Comics, 2013-14)