Comics have a long history of reflecting the political and social issues of the times, whether that’s Green Arrow and Green Lantern dealing with teen drug abuse or Superman fighting slumlords. So it’s no surprise DC has two comics this month that draw influence from the Occupy movement that was all over the news media in 2011 and 2012. The first, titled The Movement, is by Gail Simone and Freddie Williams II, and came out on Wednesday. Later this month will bring us the Green Team, the 1 percent to The Movement‘s 99 percent, even if they aren’t directly linked in terms of story.
“I have this feeling that a lot of the best adventure fiction is based on the idea of standing up for the little guy against oppressive forces. If you go back and look at Zorro, or the Shadow, or the Lone Ranger, you can pretty quickly see that that idea of a masked protector pre-dates comics entirely,” Simone told Comic Book Resources. “There’s something very powerful about that, and it’s completely non-partisan. The idea of someone laying their life on the line for others is a big part of why I read superhero comics, and yet, even in some really popular books, I feel like that theme has been lost a little — there’s a bloodthirstiness to a lot of books and you can’t always see why these characters are heroes, or even admirable anymore.”
ROBOT 6’s Tom Bondurant shared his thoughts on the first issue Thursday, and here are a few more thoughts from around the web:
Matthew Santori-Griffith, Comicosity: “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.” (9/10)
Richard Gray, Behind the Panels: “The Movement certainly isn’t the first book to plumb the depths of social protest, with Alan Moore and David Lloyd’s V for Vendetta somewhat setting a template for this sort of thing back in the 1980s. Indeed, Simone’s Movement has adopted a readily available shiny and anonymising mask, a similar device to Moore and Lloyd’s Guy Fawkes mask that has in turn inspired real-life protest groups Anonymous and the Occupy movement itself. Simone’s super-powered twist may pay off over the months, and it certainly makes for a more interesting take than another superhero reboot, but a familiar issue emerges. With the lack of any recognisable DC characters, will this ragtag group be able to pull the crowds? They have generic names like Mouse (a pied piper figure), Tremor (earthquakes) and Katharsis. Add to this ill-defined powers (one character can “ride emotions”), and it’s already a struggle to remember the leads by the end of the first issue let alone invest time with them.” (3.5/5)
Doug Zawisza, Comic Book Resources: “Gail Simone throws a lot of thoughts into the twenty pages of The Movement #1. Some of those concepts come through fairly clearly, like the communication between the team of super-powered individuals and their quest to right a perceived wrong. Other concepts, like the widespread nature of the recording technology and its use, clearly have established roots in Simone’s unseen notes and/or future issues of this title. The characters themselves are all filled with teen angst and out to violently prove the world wrong, but only if they can rub authority’s collective noses in the dirt first. None of the characters provide a truly compelling reason for readers to care about their success or failure. The story itself seems driven to use one wrong to right another wrong, which just adds up to more wrongs.” (1.5/5)
Minhquan Nguyen, Weekly Comic Book Review: “It’s been a long time since I’ve seen Williams’ work and unfortunately, I can’t say it’s grown much since I shrugged it off in Green Lantern Corps #63. If anything, it looks as if it might have regressed. There’s a squashy, Play-Doh quality to the way he draws characters which really kills any kind of tension Simone tries to generate in her story. In both his approaches to storytelling and action, he captures all the most pedestrian qualities of DC’s house style of art, sapping even the earthshaking effects of Tremor’s tectonic shifting. Sotomayor’s colors are appropriately dark and muted, but can do little to improve the situation.” (C+)
Martin Gray, Too Dangerous for a Girl: “Freddie Williams II does a fine job with the artwork, and hankie-headed goth cliche Mouse apart, his main character designs are solid and should work well together. I especially like Kath’s new outfit, with her previous birdie wings replaced by a more cobbled-together model. The compositions are dramatic, and Coral City looks great, as grim and gritty cities go. Williams deserves extra credit for his excellently realised police department, and its varied inhabitants. Mind, there’s one panel in which a horrible noise is referenced, but we get no sound effect, something that may be worth tweaking for any trade collection.”
Ethan Gach, League of Ordinary Gentleman: “Launching opposite a reboot of another comic book, The Green Team, which is set to release at the end of this month, The Movement will have the benefit of a dialectic partner to measure itself against ideologically. If Movement #1 is any indication, the book could be one of the first mainstream superhero comics in a while to provide social commentary that’s more provocative than farcical.”
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