Since my review of The Movement #9, it has come to my attention that the series is getting cancelled after issue #12, which will be in May. This is something that makes me really sad. Because it has been a series that dared to step out of the norms of superhero comics and do something radically different. It is an experiment that worked for a while, but unfortunately, due to various reasons, the series is now on the chopping block. With the new issue, the current 2-part arc comes to a close and after that we have two more issues to go. All we can hope for is that the series ends on a high-note.
In the previous issue Batgirl came to Coral City, hunting for a super-powered criminal. She ran afoul of The Movement though, and things ended up pretty bad though. And in the meantime, her target ran amok in the streets. This was the kind of the story that I really wanted to see on this title since its conception and Gail Simone delivered on it quite fantastically. It was a personal story, and that felt right at home for both Batgirl and the members of The Movement. And the art, headlined by penciller Freddie Williams II, was pretty decent as well.
On account of traveling to and from India this past week, my comics reading took a back-seat, as did my novel reading incidentally. Very few comics read, but most of them were good at least, a saving grace.
In its first eight issues, The Movement did something that wasn’t really being done in comics. It told the story of a vigilante superhero team that didn’t see itself as superheroes. And it tapped into the ongoing discussion of how social media can be used for changes in social structures and tackling corruption. It had characters that were flawed, and many of these characters represented minorities in comics in a way that perhaps only Earth 2 under James Robinson did. Suffice to say, Gail Simone and Freddie Williams II tackled something really different, and they made it work.
With the latest issue, #9, we see the beginning of a new arc on the series, and we finally see a meeting of the characters of the Movement and Batgirl, something I’ve been waiting to see ever since The Movement was announced (for the unaware, Gail is the writer for Batgirl as well). The setup here is quite interesting, and I loved how all the characters interacted with each other, especially Katharsis’ reaction to Batgirl being in town, another confrontation that I’ve wanted to see here. The art is not quite as good as what’s come before, but that is not all that big a deal.
So welcome to the first Comics Picks of The Week for 2014 where I list the comics that were actually to be the first ones released in the new year. Everything that has been revealed so far about 2014 promises an amazing year, I have to say. Well, for the most part at least. There are some things that I don’t quite understand, or like, but eh, it is still going to be a great year I feel.
This past week, Marvel finally launched its All-New Marvel NOW! line with Black Widow, All-New X-Factor and Revolutionary War: Alpha and they aren’t going to stop. New releases will continue throughout March at the least and we will even be getting some of these new titles double-shipped, such as Black Widow #2 which comes out next week. In other news, I had some fun reading DC titles this week, although Detective Comics #27 proved to be quite disappointing for most of the first half. And my disappointment is on several levels, not just with one particular aspect of it. But, more on that in the reviews.
My first graphic novel of the year happened to be the (unfinished) mini-series that Steve Gerber and Matthew Sturges wrote a few years ago, with the former writing the tale of a new Doctor Fate while the latter wrote about the supervillain Eclipse. Only eight issues of this double-sized series were released, but I have to say that I definitely enjoyed it and based on that, my graphic novel reading is off to a good start.
Doing superhero books differently is not an easy task, as I’ve come to see from the perspective of a reader. Specifically, superhero team books. Managing the personalities and attitudes and backstories and story arcs for a multitude of characters all at the same time can work if you’re really good as a writer and if you have good art to back you up. The flip side, well that happens surprisingly often sadly. DC has had a good time in the New 52 with team books, the exception being the rather dreadful Teen Titans but earlier this year it launched a new series, the teen-oriented The Movement.
In its first arc, which ends with the latest issue released this week, the heroes of The Movement have gone up against a lot of things: corrupt cops, corrupt businessmen and mercenaries who follow the money. But in the midst of it all, Gail Simone and Freddie Williams have given us some truly great things too, and they all make this series feel really special. Issue #8 is the capstone to that entire thing as most of the major plotlines are resolved while some are kept around for later and some new ones are introduced too. All that said, The Movement #8 is definitely one of the best issues of the series yet.
In the New 52, DC has tried to take a lot of gambles and few of them have paid off, if at all. Launched earlier this year, Gail Simone’s The Movement is one of those gambles and for me, it is one that has definitely worked enough to keep bringing me back every month and caring about the characters. Gail and artist Freddie Williams have done some great work on the series for its first arc and their second arc continues apace with the release of the seventh issue this week, which does one thing that the first arc was, of necessity, missing: consequences.
In any superhero story, there are always consequences for the powers that a hero has. And given that these stories are written to get us to identify with, associate with, and get invested in these characters, there need to be consequences for their actions and their nature. This is at the core of this new issue and once again the execution is pretty brilliant. For me, The Movement has been DC’s break-out hit of the year and there’s no stopping this train ride.
Writing a comic that is aware of its socio-political nature, and working that into the script itself, can be a daunting task. There are a few books that have attempted to do that over the years, but none with as obvious a message or delivery as Gail Simone’s The Movement from DC Comics. It is a modern-day comic that creates a very believable modern aesthetic, and it explores “superheroes” who take over from the social services that are supposed to protect the people.
In the five issues thus far, Gail and artist Freddie Williams have given us a really wonderful look at their setting, and they’ve populated it with some really interesting characters. There are distinct superhero-team vibes in the comic, which is really interesting considering what kind of a comic this really is. And no superhero team book is complete without some internal disagreement, and that’s what Gail explores in this issue.
More than two years into the New 52 line-wide reboot and we finally get a Nightwing Annual, something I’d been looking forward to for quite a long time. That this annual didn’t come sooner is a missed opportunity on DC’s part, in so far as the relationship between Nightwing and Batgirl goes here, because it was an excellent topic to explore, and at this length no less.
Kyle’s work on Nightwing has made him one of my favourite writers and while the title has had a few ups and downs, it has been a fairly strong title, something that ranks up there with the best in the New 52. Kyle has put Dick through the ringer several times and he has always been a character who has had little time for personal interactions. With this Annual, Kyle has changed that around, pausing the larger ongoing narrative to focus on Dick and Barbara.
Event tie-in comics are often hobbled by the fact that at some point, no matter how separated their story is from the main narrative, they do have to refer to that, and this can be a challenge in how well it is executed. A lot of things in fiction come down to the execution and comics are no different. Infinity: Heist is a 4-issue mini-series that ties into the ongoing Infinity event, where the galaxy is faced with a really big threat and the great majority of Earth’s heroes have left the planet to deal with that threat, leaving behind the villains and the supervillains. And these guys aren’t sitting quiet.
The first issue of this mini-series was really good. Despite being a tie-in, it felt like its own self-contained story and it focused on characters that I’d never read of or knew of before, so it all felt really fresh, especially since I’ve avoided reading the main event after the second issue, preferring to read it all collectively. The second issue however has a few significant connections with the main story, and since I’m not reading the main story, I felt a bit cut off from what’s going on.
So here we are. Another month, another issue of The Movement. The interruption of Villain’s Month really threw a spanner in the works, since The Movement is very much a fringe title in the DC Universe and doesn’t really have any relation to the wider setting, even though it does have superheroes in it. And that’s kind of what I love about it, that it is set in its own small corner of the DC-verse and that it is able to stand on its own, and that it definitely doesn’t go down into any of the crossover mania that is dominant with the Big 2 right now.
Up until now, Gail Simone and Freddie Williams have delivered on a really great series, across four issues, and they’ve only gotten better with each issue. With the new one, things take a slight dip, mostly to do with the art, but The Movement is still one of the best books that DC is putting out, for precisely the reason that it is a standalone series and that it deals with completely different concepts than any of DC’s other titles.
Infinity: Heist #1 makes a 3/3 for Frank Tieri, in terms of how good his three latest releases are. While this one is a tie-in mini-series for an ongoing Marvel event, his other two issues, Batman #23.3: Penguin and Detective Comics #23.4: Man-Bat, are tie-ins to DC’s ongoing Forever Evil event. All three comics are really good, so good in fact that they’ve made Frank a new favourite writer of mine. And if this issue is any indication, then Frank has lots of great things in store for future issues.
The larger story of the Infinity event is that there’s a huge cosmic threat and pretty much most of Earth’s heroes have gone on to battle that threat, leaving Earth largely defenseless. With Thanos also threatening the planet and the Mighty Avengers busy with him there really is no one around to keep all the crooks in line. And this is exactly where Infinity: Heist comes in.
I’ve mentioned before that one of the main attractions I have for Gail Simone’s The Movement is that it is well-off the oft-trodden path that superhero comics generally take. They are loud and grand and often quite fantastical. In an almost complete about-face, Gail’s new series for DC is something much more personal, much more relevant. This is a series that deals with vigilantism and corruption with a superhero flavour. It posits a situation where the people rise up en masse to protest against those in power, those are abusing and corrupting the system for their own gains, and showing them where the true power is.
The first issue of the series was a great opener. The second and third issues set a high bar. And now, the fourth issue has raised the stakes once again. The Movement is a series that seems to be getting better with each issue.