The Movement 2

movement 2

Today, Spencer and Shelby are discussing The Movement 2, originally released June 5th, 2013.

Spencer: When The Movement (and its sister book, The Green Team) was first announced, I was a little leery of it. I feared that it would be a gimmick, that it’d be nothing but political preaching or a backwards attempt to be relevant. Fortunately, Gail Simone’s involvement convinced me to give it a chance, and I’m sure glad I did. Not only does The Movement use its political elements to create a fascinatingly complex morality for itself, but it also stands out as a particularly well-crafted team book in its own right.

Virtue gives the police they captured last issue the grand tour of their compound as she leads them to their cells, but any lesson she might be trying to teach is soured when Officer Whitt makes a counterpoint of his own. Frustrated, Virtue gathers the other super-powered members for a War Council, hoping to determine what to do with their prisoners. Tension mounts between Virtue, Katharsis, and Tremor, leading Katharsis to break out on her own to confront bigshot James Cannon about the Cornea Killer. Virtue and the rest, meanwhile, follow up on their own lead—bringing them face-to-face with the weather witch, Rainmaker.

I’m impressed by how quickly The Movement has found its footing. Starting a new team book requires a lot of juggling: you’ve got to establish individual team members, establish how they work together as a team (or how they fail to), establish the team’s purpose, etc. etc. The Movement faces an additional roadblock in the fact that the entire cast is basically composed of brand new characters, yet, by the end of Issue #2, all of these requirements have been met.

We know why these kids have assembled together, and why it’s necessary. We’ve seen how their different ideals lead to clashes. Perhaps most importantly, we’ve seen a clear, distinct voice from each character. Virtue is a compassionate leader; Tremor her calm, calculating, Spock-like right hand; Katharsis is boisterous, straightforward, and brutal; and Mouse and Burden are both very different kinds of unhinged.

Perhaps most impressive is the introduction of Vengeance Moth, who appears in a measly four panels yet instantly became one of my new favorite characters.

Actually I think those are Fruit Roll-Ups

This issue may have slowed down slightly to allow us to get to know the team better, but it still packs quite a punch, both literally (with Katharsis’ wonderfully brutal fight scene) and figuratively, as it continues to explore various shades of gray through the Movement’s activities.

Right off the bat Virtue tells the captured police officers a story about the 181 women killed in the sweatshop they now use as their headquarters. She’s trying to teach them something (Tremor later says they were supposed to convince the officers to confess to their crimes), but Officer Whitt turns things back around on her.

Turnabout is fair play I suppose

While it’s definitely not wrong to call Virtue out here, I don’t really think these two situations compare. The 181 were abused, mistreated workers abandoned to die, while these two officers are far from innocent, and even as prisoners, are being treated far kinder than any of the 181 were (I doubt any of them were ever offered Fruit Snacks, for example).

Still, this exchange does rekindle our discussion on just how these kids are handling their movement. Let’s start by taking a look at the War Council. Their plan is only laid out in broad strokes, with even the important detail of just what exactly they’re going to do with their prisoners still up for debate. These kids are walking a morally ambiguous line here, and without a clear mission statement, they could easily make a fatal misstep.

Then there’s the issue of the Council’s line-up. Katharsis is the obvious problem; her stubbornness and proclivity for violence leaves her a potential liability for the whole team. That said, the presence of Mouse and Burden is just as troubling. Mouse appears to have a very childlike mentality and demeanor, leaving me wondering if he truly understands what he’s involved in. Burden is never even given a choice to be a part of the Council, and with his own deep-seated guilt and repression, I also worry about what being a party to all this violence might to do him. Mouse and Burden especially belong in therapy, but Virtue flat-out states that she needs their muscle too much; hopefully this decision doesn’t come back to bite her in the butt.

Virtue and Tremor are much more level-headed, but still, I’m assuming they’re teenagers, and I can’t imagine making the kind of decisions they’re making as a teenager. I mean, I’m 26 and I can’t even imagine having to make these kind of decisions at my age, nonetheless as a moody, prone to see the world in black and white teenager.

Despite all these issues, though, these characters are still the heroes of the book, and while writer Gail Simone allows us to explore their flaws, she still manages to give us protagonists we can root for.

Not exactly the Batcave, but it'll do

Allowing us to see that the Movement also doubles as a rescue mission gives them a lot of leeway. They’re not only taking in homeless teens, but they’re teaching them, trying to give them a chance to succeed in the future; it’s pretty impressive stuff. These kids’ hearts are in the right place; Virtue is obviously a noble soul, but even Katharsis does what she does—no matter how violent—to help protect the innocent and stop people who abuse their power to hurt others. There’s something inspiring about these characters taking such a strong stand for what they believe in.

So Shelby, how do you think the team (and this book) is coming along? Any ideas how the Cornea Killer is involved in all of this? And how about that art? I love what Freddie Williams II is doing with his inks!

Shelby: Oh, I think this book is coming along just swell. Simone is making some very smart choices with these character, the smartest being the moral ambiguity we see on both sides of the story. There’s no doubt the members of The Movement are the good guys of the story, but they aren’t messing around, either. “Try not to kill anyone, but don’t let anyone give you any crap, either,” is the advice Virtue gives her team as they confront Rainmaker’s crew; these guys will be brutal if they have to be. It’s pretty obvious as well that Whitt is your stereotypical bad cop, and that all the cops aren’t great. They’ve failed the people, but they’re not all bad. The Chief wants to help people, he wants to find the Cornea Killer and he wants to keep his citizens safe. At the same time, two of his men (dickbags though they might be) have been taken by dangerous vigilantes; what else can he do but go back for more firepower?

It’s that ambiguity that makes this story so compelling. Once again, Simone is showing off how great she is at writing believable characters. Virtue and her team are superheroes, but they’re also just people; they’re charming and flawed just the same as we are. Williams’ pencils are the perfect foil to Simone’s grounded characters. He can do so much with such simple facial expressions.

mouse and friends

I love that sad consideration on Mouse’s face. Spencer, you mentioned that Mouse and Burden are not wholly in charge of their facilities, and it’s maybe inappropriate for them to be on Virtue’s team. In Mouse’s case, I think it’s just a matter of him actually being part rat. Like his brain has been partially rewired: only someone who is a little bit person and little bit animal would be sad to lose a friend while fighting the desire to eat them. And while he may be a huge boon for the team, it’s probably just better for him to be under the watchful eyes of Vengeance Moth and Virtue than on his own. That goes doubly true for Burden; at least Virtue is aware that he has a mental illness. But even still, she’s not above using him because she knows it will further their cause.

Even though we are only two issues in, this title already presents some pretty complex characters and situations. Simone is taking a  very real-world look at what could drive people to vigilantism. The situation is topical and belivable, and doesn’t lose any of it’s relevancy when you add some crazy superpowers. Williams manages to give us art that is both cartoonishly innocent and alarmingly gritty: a perfect representation of Virtue’s under-aged team. Simone has drawn her blurry line in the sand between the good guys and bad, and I imagine it’s going to be a while before that line solidifies into a clearer distiction. Personally, I would be satisfied if it never did.

For a complete list of what we’re reading, head on over to our Pull List page.  Whenever possible, buy your comics from your local mom and pop comic bookstore.  If you want to rock digital copies, head on over to DC’s website and download issues there.  There’s no need to pirate, right?

12 comments on “The Movement 2

  1. I’m all-in with this book! I have never been a big Simone fan. I tried her stuff before (Batgirl, Secret Six) but it never really grabbed me like this did. The only hesistation for me is that often the first arc of story doesn’t get to the ongoing status quo until the end of it. We already see here that someone is playing both sides and are led to beilieve that other members will be joining the team. I would love to see more of a focus on the mental illness that both Burden and Mouse are living with as I feel that that is an area not fully/appropriatly explored in superhero comics.

    • I’m a little bit surprised to hear that you didn’t enjoy Secret Six, since this book has a lot in common with it.

      That said, yeah, this book is really working for me. This issue specifically got me hooked. I enjoyed Issue One, but this issue is where it really clicked for me, probably because of the focus on exploring the characters now that the premise and setting have been set up already.

      And man is that cast great. I’m all-in too!

      • Yeah, I heard lots of great things about it but it just never hooked me. I read the Mini-Series and then first 6 or 7 issue of the ongoing. I think part of it might have been that they were villians or more experience.
        For the movement I like that they are younger and trying to do the right thing even though it leads to tricky situations. Everything here is still grey (like Secret Six) but these people want to do good where Secret Six just did not give a fuck.

  2. Shelby, I love your idea that Mouse might actually be part-rat. It makes so much sense, but it never even crossed my mind as I was reading.

    Even though I said that it might be a questionable decision to have Mouse on the team, I still think he’s a great character. Him wanting to eat his favorite dead mouse, and then the call-back during the War Council when he DOES eat him had me in stitches, especially that shot of poor confused Mouse sitting there like a deer in the headlights with a tail sticking out of his mouth.

    Then again, I’m impressed by all the characters. There’s four brand new characters and two who have only had a couple of appearances in the past (Katharsis and Tremor), yet all have such strong personalities and voices. I feel like I shouldn’t be impressed–stand-out character and dialogue are Simone’s speciality–but still, I am impressed. This series wasted no time hitting its stride and I’m so glad it did.

  3. I’m gonna make a really early called shot and say Simone is giving Secret Six a run for its money as far as being her masterpiece. And I have to say, I have never cared much for Freddie Williams’ art before this issue, but his work here in combination with how much I care for the material has turned me completely around on that opinion. There was a time when he was a go-to name for an example of an artist I didn’t care for, but I totally get it now. It should be said that I prefer DC’s “realistic” house style to Marvel’s cartoonier approach and typically only give Chiang/Akins & Co. a total pass based on the quality of their work as an exception to the rule. Now I’m going to have to add Amanda Conners/Freddie Williams & Co. as a similar entity in my thought process. I’m basing this only on DC’s CURRENT art staff; If Bruce Timm or Mike Allred were drawing a book at DC, for instance, that also would get a total pass no matter what the book was.

    • Freddie Williams’ work has grown on me, if only because he always ends up on books featuring characters I really like (Tim Drake’s “Robin”, The Flash, and JSA All-Stars all spring to mind), so I’ve spent a lot of time looking at his art.

      This is by far the most I’ve liked it, though, and I guess I just feel like his style fits the characters and the story,

      Also, like I briefly mentioned in the review, I like what he’s doing with his inks: specifically, when he puts big blotches of ink in the panel, like during Katharsis and Virtue’s argument, and sometimes he’ll even turn panel borders into thick, jagged inky lines, such as in the panel when the girl slaps Officer Whitt. It’s a really cool effect.

  4. I’m also really digging this book so far. Do you guys feel it’s mandatory to read The Green Team as well to get the full experience or does this work as a stand-alone? I don’t feel like anything’s missing but having not looked at the other book I don’t really know for sure.

    • So far The Movement and the Green Team haven’t tied into each other in any way. So far they seem to be a study in contrast–The Movement being about the poor and oppressed while The Green Team is about kids with too much money on their hands–so in that way they are connected, but you can totally read one without reading the other.

      It would actually be pretty cool if they crossed over at some point though–there’s probably a lot that could be mined from these two teams meeting–but there’s no hurry for that; I want the books to get settled in before either are disrupted by anything like that.

  5. Pingback: Happy Birthday, Gail Simone! ^_^ | Jyger's Rant

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