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.
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.
After the double-shipping last month, this month we get to a regular monthly schedule for Nathan Edmondson and Phil Noto’s excellent Black Widow. The first two issues were quite stellar, both of them one-shots designed to introduce the character and set her up before launching into something approximating a long arc, like a 5-6 issue story. The art didn’t grip me as much in the first issue, given how different Noto’s art style is, but the second issue was quite an improvement still, and now with the third issue, I’m in love with his work.
The new issue is a two-headed beast. It tells a mostly standalone story, but there is also a subplot that supposedly leads in to a slightly bigger story in the next issue. And as with the previous two issues, we continue to get a look into how Natasha thinks, what her personal mission is, and what her morals are. With an espionage twist, the book really makes her come across as a hero, and I’m all for that because she is one of the in-the-grey characters who are also heroes.
It seems that Marvel is taking a pretty big chance with its All-New Marvel NOW! launch of new titles (and a sprinkling of some relaunches as well) in that the new titles all appear to be double-shipping in their first months. That’s pretty significant I believe and hints also that they trust these books to that degree. Since Black Widow is the only title I’ve read so far (two issues that is), I won’t comment on whether it is a strategy that is working for me since the bigger picture needs to be looked at, but damn, Black Widow #2 was an awesome issue on all fronts.
Black Widow #1 was a damn good issue. The writing was perfect, and the art almost perfect. It was a perfect blending of talent for a character that I’ve really come to love thanks to the recent run of Marvel movies. With Black Widow #2, Nathan Edmondson continues to build on her world, perfectly contextualising her within the movies continuity while perfectly doing his own thing as well. I love what he is doing. And having now gotten a good taste of Phil Noto’s style, the art here was damn gorgeous.
The Fall 2013 season has been quite good for television programming, what with Arrow returning for an awesome second season and the launch of new shows like Almost Human and Sleepy Hollow which have been really good so far from all that I’ve seen. Agents of SHIELD has been the only down-kicker, of all the new stuff I’ve seen in the last few months. Joining the line-up of good shows returning for the second half of their new (or debut, as appropriate) seasons is ABC’s Killer Women, a show seemingly styled along the likes of Chuck Norris’ classic Texas Ranger, except with a female protagonist, which is pretty damn great.
Tricia Helfer, of Battlestar Galactica, Burn Notice, Tron: Uprising and Two And A Half Men fame among others, plays the lead character Molly Parker. Molly is a Texas Ranger, newly minted and she’s a tough no-nonsense individual who goes on instincts more than she does protocol. The series premiere was broadcast earlier this week and I’d say that its off to a good start. Sure, there are some cliches here, but I wouldn’t condemn the show just on the pilot. I’ll give it my Agents of SHIELD treatment, give it until a mid-season mark or something before deciding whether to stick with or drop it. But right now, I’m definitely sticking with it.
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.
Just earlier this week I was listening to Kelly Thompson’s podcast with Sue from DC Women Kickin’ Ass where they talked about gender parity at Marvel and DC, both in terms of the characters and the creators. And a point was raised that Marvel has done less than DC, or that DC is currently just better with it. The podcast was released just after NYCC last year, and some of the news that came out at the time was about Marvel’s All-New Marvel NOW! initiative which would mark the first big step forward in the company’s Marvel NOW! relaunch of its titles, with a slew of new titles, and a few restarts as well. In light of that news, while the creator gender parity hasn’t increased any, the character gender parity certainly has. And new title Black Widow is at the leading edge of that.
Black Widow should be familiar to anyone who’s been watching Marvel movies for about four years now. Under Scarlet Johannson, the character has seen a revival of sorts and she’s quickly become a fan favorite with the fandom demanding she get her own movie. I concur. This is why I was so taken up with the idea of a Black Widow solo comic because I see it as a great step forward to make that happen, though there’ve been a number of Black Widow titles over the years. With this new series, Nathan Edmondson and Phil Noto deliver something truly amazing.
For this new seasonal list of the best SFF characters I’ve read this year, my second pick is the Princess Atiana Radieva Vostroma from Bradley P. Beaulieu’s Lays of Anuskaya trilogy, of which I’ve read the first two books so far, The Winds of Khalakovo (review) and The Straits of Galahesh (review). These books are fantasy novels through and through, with a really great Russian twist to them, as you can no doubt tell from the character’s name.
Hit the break to see why I picked this character.