The last time I posted up a comic review, someone raised a very good point; why was I reviewing book that was two weeks old and most people who were going to buy had already got? It’s a good question and the answer breaks down into a couple of different reasons. Firstly, any book has a shelf life of four weeks, minimum, and any copies left go into back issues. The book’s still there, it’s still as good, you just have to dig for it. Secondly because – and I say this as a former comic retailer – this is a golden age. It’s not perfect by any means, and everyone will have different reasons why but the sheer weight of new talent, new ideas and new companies appearing in the comics industry is amazing. That’s both a good thing and a bad one, because whilst it’s great there are so many excellent new titles, it’s all too easy for something you might like to get lost in the mix. Finally, not everyone can get to the comic shop the week of release so any information about a good title they may have missed should still come in useful. So, every now and then I’ll talk about a comic that’s not in its first week but still deserves your attention.
That brings us to The Movement from DC. Set in Coral City, the book starts with an attempted assault on two teenagers by members of the local police. They’re seen off by a horde of people wearing mirrored masks, holding up phones saying “ICU” (meaning both “I See You”) and a threat of where the cops will end up if they don’t back off.
The incident hits the news and the consequences are non-existent. This is the first really smart thing Simone (best known for her sterling work on Birds Of Prey and Batgirl ) does with the book. In any other city these two men would be out on their ear but Coral is broken, and broken in a far more visceral, nasty way than Gotham ever has been. Gotham is a city built by lunatics, an asylum with a public transport system whilst Coral is beered up, lairy and looking to get into as many fights as it can until the pain goes away. This is a nasty town, and DC hasn’t had a location this grounded for a long time.
The second clever thing Simone does is use the two guilty cops’ shift captain as an entry. Superficially he’s every inch the stereotypical police captain: black, mid-’50s, happily married, principled. But he’s also toothless, unable to punt the two guilty cops, is struggling with a supremely horrible string of murders and the revelation that some of his streets aren’t his anymore. There’s one moment where Virtue, leader of Channel M, shows him his wife is having an affair. She asks if he wants to know who with and he crumples, says, “No… Yes”, and you see every inch of pain this man’s suffering. It puts me in mind of the original Crow miniseries in places like this and that’s very high praise. Even as the book finishes, you’re unclear if the Captain is going to be an ally or an enemy but you do know you want to see both more of him and the members of Virtue’s team.
Who are the third clever thing Simone does. These are street level superhumans without the usual, slightly embarrassed trappings that description implies. Virtue’s team use smartphones, masks and theatre as much as they do their powers and they make a hell of an impact. There’s an underlying anger to their actions that marks them out as something very different to their DCU peers and also helps define each of their characters. Mouse, the Prince Of Rats, is theatrical and bombastic, whilst Tremor, the team’s seismic manipulator, is distant and cold. Katharsis, the team’s flyer (with gorgeous steampunk wings no less) is also their bruiser and her fight with one of the two cops is one of the spots where Williams II’s art really shines. The fight psychology is beautifully handled, not only showing how she can take down someone much larger than her but giving us a look at her character at the same time. It’s smart, multi-layered writing and it’s rounded off by Virtue’s conversation with the Captain. Her ability, to ride emotions to their source, is fascinating and again Williams II shines in depicting it. She’s also the most nuanced character, clearly the leader, clearly the most compassionate and also the hardest-edged. As the book closes, her statement of intent is clear; her team are protecting these streets now, because the police can’t or won’t. The Captain can let them work or be first in their sights and she truly doesn’t care what he chooses. It’s a bold statement, especially for a new team but it pays off and makes this a smart, fast-paced first issue.
The New 52 has taken a lot of criticism since DC launched it and a lot of that criticism has been richly deserved. It’s still far from perfect but The Movement is a real highpoint in DC’s current line up and one they should be making a lot more noise about. They’re not, unfortunately, but I am. This is a great book, and with just the first issue out, now’s the perfect time to pick it up and join The Movement.
With thanks to Treasure Island Comics for the copy