Today, Spencer and Scott are discussing The Movement 3, originally released July 3rd, 2013.
Spencer: What responsibility do I have to change the world? Are my actions making the world a better place to live in, or a worse one? Hopefully we’ve all considered these questions at one point or another in our lives—with all the riots and movements in the media now, it’d be hard not to—but if you haven’t, The Movement 3 will probably change that. As its characters grapple with these questions, its hard not to ask them of ourselves as well.
The issue opens on Katharsis fighting her way through Cannon’s hired thugs; despite her best efforts, she’s beaten and taken in for interrogation. Meanwhile, Virtue and the others face Rainmaker, who thinks they work for “the man.” Thanks to Virtue’s quick thinking (and Mouse’s teeth), they’re able to calm Rainmaker, and she reveals to them Cannon’s plan for remaking the city. Before they can face Cannon, though, they’ll have to rescue Katharsis—even if they have to take out the police entirely to do it!
From its very first page this issue seems determined to pull its audience directly into its ethical dilemmas. As Katharsis fights through Cannon’s men her internal monologue talks about those people whose lives and power rest entirely on the fear and oppression of others. She’s talking to the officers who are beating her, but we don’t find this out until a while through the monologue; between most of the monologue being addressed to a general “you” and that splash page of Katharsis’ furious stare directly at the camera, it feels entirely possible that she could be talking to me. It begs the question: Are the privileges we enjoy supported by the oppression of others?
Meanwhile, Virtue and Rainmaker’s conversation brings up another tough question:
Virtue and Rainmaker seem to legitimately connect here, each seeing themselves in the other. It’s implied that Rainmaker’s crew have undergone the same hardships as Virtue’s, but while Virtue is fighting back, Rainmaker just wants to be left alone. This debate is simply about duty: when you know the problems the world faces, how much of a responsibility do you have to try to fix them?
I think my favorite thing about this scene—and truthfully, the series as a whole—is that it doesn’t really give us any answers. Sure, Virtue’s got some harsh words about Rainmaker’s attitude, but considering that many of Virtue’s decisions are questionable as well, the series ultimately leaves it up to us to decide whom we agree with and where we fall in this equation.
There’s also an interlude featuring a homeless man named Ryan Jennings. Ryan ultimately winds up a victim of the Cornea Killer, but I’m more interested by the beginning of the scene.
The attitude of Shanna’s boyfriend/husband/date here is all too familiar; I’m sure I’ve heard it word-for-word before in real life. This exchange is indicative of one of The Movement’s larger themes: the way people in power view the poor and the oppressed. Just in this scene we see Shanna, who has pity upon Ryan, and her male companion, who views Ryan with disgust. The scene itself is told from Ryan’s point of view, so the audience is allowed to see Ryan as a real person, as an ex-soldier who was wounded-in-action and subsequently fell into hard times; it’s all a very haunting reminder for us to try to remember the humanity behind every person we meet.
That’s a reminder James Cannon sorely needs. This Wall Street mogul has high aspirations to remake Coral City into a crime-free utopia; unfortunately, he plans to do this by getting rid of all its poor people. This revelation leads to the issue’s most chilling moment:
Cannon doesn’t look down on the poor the way that the man back in the scene with Ryan did; to him they don’t even merit thought at all, they’re just an obstacle that has to be pushed out of the way. The poor of Coral City have been completely dehumanized, and thus, have become even easier to push around. What scares me about this is how similar it is to the real world CEOs and bankers who gamble with the public’s well being just to line their own pockets. I guess we don’t need to look to comic books to find supervillains; real-life supervillains are all around us.
In the end, I think the way that The Movement forces us to confront these ubiquitous issues and allows us to find our own answers is a huge part of what makes it so great. Of course, I’ve ranted and raved in the past about how some books get so caught up in trying to make a statement or establish some grand metaphor that they lose sight of just telling good stories (I won’t name any names), but fortunately The Movement manages to avoid this pitfall thanks to well-rounded, fleshed out characters, an intriguing mystery at its center, and, of course, scads of action and humor. I know I’m gushing a bit, but it’s hard not to with a book this good.
Alright Scott, it’s your turn to gush (but only if you want to gush; you can totally not gush, that’s cool too). Did this issue turn you introspective like it did me? What do you make of Virtue’s decision to bring down the police? And hey, how about that scene where Rainmaker gives Virtue her telephone number? Is it just me, or is there a little flirting going on there?
Scott: Flirting? That could be- I imagine the dating pool for superheroes is relatively small, so when there’s an opportunity you’ve just gotta go for it. They’d make quite the power couple; I just wouldn’t want to be around for the incredibly messy break up.
I think you really hit on something, Spencer- Simone doesn’t give us all the answers to the questions she poses. It’s not always clear which character we should agree with, and that’s exactly what Simone wants. Some of the villains are despicable through and through- I don’t think anyone’s siding with Cannon, the greedy millionaire- but the other main characters are scattered across a gradient of ethical righteousness. The nuanced characters, combined with the social issues this title tackles, create a realistic world that has drawn me in deeper and deeper through the first three issues.
There’s something very tangible about this comic, and I think that feeling stems from Freddie Williams’ gritty art. Williams doesn’t shy away from images that elicit a visceral response. Whether it’s a swarm of rats or a beaten and battered face, there’s usually something on the page that makes your stomach churn. This probably isn’t a book you want to read while you’re eating. But it is great at putting you in the place of the characters and making you feel what they feel. Just look at Katharsis as she’s being manhandled by Cannon; you can feel the pain and rage inside her.
Spencer, as for Virtue’s decision to bring down the police, it’s another morally ambiguous action. The police department, as Simone has crafted it, isn’t evil, but it’s a stubborn entity lead by a somewhat ignorant idealist captain, with an ill-intentioned sleazeball pulling the strings. Issuing a threat to the police captain is never a wise move, but I think Virtue is right to take a hard stance against a system that seems to be rigged against the people she’s fighting for. Captain Meers can claim the police are “not at war,” but it’s becoming clear that that’s not his decision to make.
One line in the exchange between Virtue and Meers stuck out to me: Meers wants to “explain the facts of life” to Virtue, because her mother clearly didn’t. In reality, Virtue’s mother just taught her a very different set of facts than Meerss mother or, say, Cannon’s mother would have. Everyone is fighting for what they believe in based on the way they were raised. Those who grew up poor fight for the poor, those who grew up rich fight for the rich. Then there are those like Meers, who believe they are fighting for everyone, but really have no one on their side. I guess what I’m trying to say is, if anyone’s to blame, it’s the moms. Yeah, let the moms go to war.
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?