THE MOVEMENT #1
Written by Gail Simone
Art by Freddie E. Williams II
Release Date: May 1, 2013
One of the conceits of DC Comics’ New 52 is that it was an opportunity for the company, for good or bad according to fans, to start from scratch and introduce a new tone to the DC Universe. No longer a strictly comfortable environment where super-humans were idolized blindly, their world has evolved into reflect our perceptions of power and authority in 2013, rather than 1956. But no title has touched on this shift so directly as this week’s debut from Gail Simone and Freddie E. Williams II, The Movement.
On its face, The Movement is billed as a super-heroic extension of the Occupy movement that took root last year (and has since quieted in the media), but in reality, the title reflects far more than that narrow worldview. Set in an economically depressed Coral City — specifically its most ignored and crime-ridden ten blocks — the title introduces us quickly to city rife with corruption, but not of the kind organized by the likes of the Penguin or Lex Luthor. Rather, this corruption is of the sliding scale, with police individually taking advantage of suspects’ vulnerabilities, in a way that speaks to the worsening of human nature more than absolute villainy. This is not to say the police are framed as unilaterally corrupt, for both the force and its newfound opposition in the hacker group Channel M are wading in the shades of grey quite effectively. The makings of noble heroism and abusive power are in evidence on both sides of the equation.
Simone introduces a cast of characters nearly completely new in rapid fire, but manages to exhibit just enough about each to intrigue and round out this peek into the world of Coral City. Agents of an as yet unknown leader, mechanically-winged Katharsis (from Simone’s own Batgirl) and earthquake-inducing Tremor (an unbenched cast member of the much missed Secret Six) are joined by a rat-commanding teenager named Mouse and the psychic projectionist Virtue to quickly develop a cast full of much-needed diversity, both ethnic and in personality and powers. On a mission to rescue presumed suspect Burden, who’s own first appearance is perfectly indicative of Simone’s trademark dark humor, the team stands their own and harkens back to some of the brightest moments of the 1960s Teen Titans, where teenagers stood for something more idealistic than the establishment ever could allow. In that sense, the title already is beginning to blend a necessary cynicism about 21st century authority with the determination of millennial optimism, making the world as complex and deeply intriguing as our very own from the start.
Williams makes the transition from the bright, nuclear futurism of Captain Atom to this grittier, more down-to-earth environment quite effectively, capturing a real sense of the economic decline these characters are experiencing from the very start. The art isn’t as crisp as my personal preferences tend to admire, but seems well-chosen for the environment in which the book is set. By far, my favorite panel is a half page feature of the five central characters, previewed in many spots, that gives a real sense of the potential for heroism these disparate figures hold. But where Williams is really turning in greatness is in the creepy, almost Final Crisis-reminiscent masks worn by everyday agents of Channel M. At once breeding anonymity and technological prowess, one wonders if we are seeing the New 52 reintroduction of the Oracle concept, but spread across the populace in an egalitarian shift worthy of the book’s title.
Perfect for readers who have been craving new characters, ideas and a more complex look at the conditions of power in the DC Universe, The Movement could prove to fill the gap that Secret Six left behind nearly two years ago. Long in the making, this title is a welcome addition to a line striving for diversity, and I’m already eagerly in queue for next month’s issue.
The Verdict: 9.0/10