Saturday, 23 July 2016

The Movement Book 2: Fighting For The Future (#7-12)

"So are we supposed to be heroes or something equally dumb?" - Katharsis

This is the second and final volume of the cult New 52 comic penned by Gail Simone and drawn by Freddie Williams II.  The first book introduced us to the titular Movement, an team of superpowered individuals in their late teens and early twenties made up  of Virtue, who can ride peoples emotions and use the power she takes offensively and acts as the defacto leader of the group; Tremor who can cause localised earthquakes, Mouse who can speak to and control rats, Katharsis (who was introduced in Simone's Batgirl run) who doesn't have powers but can fly using home made wings and has superior hand-to-hand combat skills, Vengeance Moth who can form a glowing green moth shape around her and use it as a shield and fly when doing so, and Burden whose powers manifest as a demonic style possession.  They are part of a wider social movement in a fictional US city called Coral City, made up of the general underclass who don't feel the police and ruling class are serving their best interests.  In the first volume, after two Coral City cops are caught sexually harrassing a minor on video, they are kidnapped and put on trial by The Movement, they escape through tunnels created by Tremor who thinks the whole thing has got a bit out of control.  Also causing problems is the mysterious "Cornea Killer" who targets the homeless and is the son of crooked mayor of the city and leader of the city council, Mr. Cannon.  He in turn has called in his own team of metahumans called The Graveyard Shift to deal with The Movement and they attack Movement member Mouse on his own, leaving him strung up from a lampost where Tremor and Katharsis find him after they have talked out their differences in a nearby diner.  And it's directly on from that, where Book Two starts.

Mr. Cannon is speaking with his son Terry, the Cornea Killer.  Terry says he didn't harm anyone today much to Mr. Cannon's relief.  He tells his father he wanted to though, "I like it daddy, I really, really like it".  He goes on to say he killed his mother because she caught him "doing something naughty".
Katharsis and Tremor rescue Mouse.
Katharsis and Tremor cut Mouse down from the lampost and calls for an ambulance.  Katharsis calls Virtue who had just done a fake exorcism on Burden to trick him into thinking he was free of his curse.  She leaves Vengeance Moth in charge of their HQ.  The ambulance is going to take an hour to arrive, so Virtue bought Katharsis's wings with her and Katharsis flies Mouse to hospital.

The Graveyard Shift follow the "breadcrumbs" of energy Virtue left behind to track back to Movement HQ.  It was why they left Mouse alive, to lure her out.  In the HQ Burden confesses he is having "sexytime feelings" as Vengeance Moth puts it.  He asks if they can do an exorcism to get rid of those as well.
Vengeance Moth and Burden in The Movement HQ.
The two cops that were captured by The Movement are being patched up.  Whitt says they should get down there and clear "the punk scum right the hell out".  At said HQ, a jamming device has been activated by the Graveyard Shift who approach the entrance through the tunnels.

Katharsis arrives at the hospital with Mouse while The Graveyard Shift arrive at Movement HQ. Vengeance Moth is there to meet them while Burden looks on.  She activates her energy form and blasts them, but one of them "Monster Baby" says she's blind already and punches Vengeance Moth.
Vengeance Moth activates her power.
At the hospital the others are now there and are told Mouse is in bad shape and might not make it.  We then join the cops, one called Yee says he is not going to let Whitt attack The Movement and Whitt threatens him.  At Mouse's bedside, The police captain Meers hands Virtue a folder with information on The Graveyard Shift, who "the shadow council hired to clean you out".

Vengeance Moth is putting up a fight but is outnumbered.  Burden runs up to help her and is knocked back for his trouble. Vengeance Moth say they need his help, the exorcism was a fake, they need his power, "you are our only hope for those people" she says.  So he transforms into his demon self and begins fighting.
Burden goes full demon.
The police are still arguing, Yee tells Whitt, "you're a bad cop" and Whitt punches him.  At Movement HQ, Vengeance Moth drags herself back into her wheelchair, while Burden takes on all of The Graveyard Shift.  She thinks they might be too much for him as she goes back to the fight.

Virtue, still at the hospital, is on the phone to Rainmaker (an independant female metahuman), saying she'll have to cancel their date.  Rainmaker says she got dressed up, even wore a skirt.  Virtue says she'd "like to see this miracle garment" next time.

At Movement HQ, Burden is beginning to tire, Vengeance Moth sneaks up on the leader "Anguish" and belts her with one of her crutches.  Captain Meers is called to come to where Whitt and Yee are fighting.  Whitt has won, but more police are standing up to him, including Pena his partner who says he, "requested a new partner this morning".
Even wheelchair bound, Moth can beat you down.
Anguish recovers and goes to hit Vengeance Moth with the crutch, but she says while Anguish was temporarily incapacitated, she smashed the jamming device and called the others. Then rocks start to fall from the ceiling because of how intense the fighting has been.  Vengeance Moth thinks back to how she was terrified of being buried alive, "tapehephobia" her shrink called it, and it still frightens her.

At the hospital, Virtue gets Vengeance Moth's call as she, Katharsis and Tremor watch over Mouse.  He mumbles something so Tremor gets closer to hear and he kisses her, "I kissed you and you're a girl.  We're in love now" he says.  Virtue runs in saying it's time to get back to HQ the others are in trouble.

The Graveyard Shift decide to cut their losses and leave before the roof caves in.  Anguish looms over Vengeance Moth saying she wants a "souvenier".  Katharsis appears and punches her away from Vengeance Moth. 
Virtue is scary when she is mad.
The Graveyrd Shift fight back, but Virtue takes Vengeance Moth's fear of being buried alive and fires it at anguish much amplified, causing her to freak out in terror.  Virtue then says:

Virtue: "Leave Coral City, that's the good news.  The bad news is is you ever come back I will bury your soul so deep you'll think hell is a mile higher".

The Graveyard Shift take the hint and leave.  Back with the cops, Captain Meers is finally able to fire Whitt for punching Yee.  Yee baited Whitt deliberately much to Whitt's anger.  He then tells Meers he looked into Virtue and has found out she died six years ago.

Mouse seems to have some kind of enhanced healing ability as he is able to join the rest of them on a roof looking out over the city.

Virtue: "Maybe someday everyone looks up and sees something beautiful".

And this chapter closes on an image of Batgirl in front of the "Welcome to Coral City" sign.  She is in town on the trail of a wannabe superhero who killed some people.  His name is Reese, or "Horizon".  She finds and confronts him and he fires some energy at her and escapes.

At Movement HQ, Katharsis, Virtue and Burden are in the bathroom trying to make Mouse presentable to Tremor.  Virtue asks the cowering Burden if he can help?

Burden: "Me?  That boy is buck nekkid.  I can see his.. I can see his teats.  I shouldn't even be in here!"
They get Mouse under the shower and when he admits he doesn't know how to use shampoo, Virtue gets in with him to give him "the full treatment."
On a lighter note, Mouse hates bathtime.
Batgirl has recovered from the attack and finds herself surrounded by the masked "I.C.U" crowd telling her to leave Reese alone.

Batgirl: "Well this spiralled out of control fast. What in the world is for real going on here?"

She goes looking for Reese, meanwhile Mouse is all dolled up in a suit and even wearing shows.  He goes up to Tremor and reads his declaration of love and offers her a box of chocolates.
Courtship, Mouse style.
Tremor screams at the rat and Katharsis drily remarks "it doesn't sound like that went too well".  Batgirl goes to the one person considered an authority in the area, Pastor Mike.  She tells him she wants to talk with The Movement and she's in luck, Virtue appears right away.

Batgirl tells her she is looking for a criminal called Reese Cahill.  Virtue says they don't go giving people up to the cops.  Batgirl tries to threaten her with blackmail if she doesn't play along.  Virtue thinks, "my first real superhero and she's kind of a bitch to be honest".
Batgirl vs. Katharsis round two.
Then Katharsis appears.  She and Batgirl have history, they fought when Katharsis was a member of a group called "Knightfall" in Gotham.  They get into a punch up and Batgirl manges to disable Katharsis with a kick to the stomach.  They are still in the church and Pastor Mike says:

Pastor Mike: "Church or no church.  This is a terrible way to solve problems".

Then Mouse rides in on his wave of rats who surround Batgirl.  Virtue says they can sort things out over doughnuts and milkshakes so they go to their local diner to talk it out.

Meanwhile captain Meers is digging into Virtue's history and finds out he shot her father who was robbing a bank at the time.  At the diner, Batgirl says Reese tried to stop a mugging but was attacked himself and killed two of his assailants and put the other two in hospital badly burned.
Ice cream and donuts are way better than fighting.
Katharsis points out he did it because he was acting in self defence, then gets up to use the toilet.  Virtue says she can sense there is someone Batgirl hates very much (image of the Joker) and would she kill them if she could?  Batgirl gets annoyed and says to keep out of her way while she looks for Reese.

Then Katharsis cold cocks her from behind and knocks her out. Their plan is to take her back to HQ and photo her unmasked for leverage against her.  The chapter ends with Reese killing two cops saying, "I am a hero can't you see that?  I'm a hero."

They bring the unconcious Batgirl down to their HQ and lay her out.  Tremor thinks what they are doing is a bit skeevy.  Virtue says the photos will just be for them.  Katharsis goes out to look for Reese herself.  They point a camera at Batgirl and start to peel off her mask.
Hey! Not cool Movement, not cool at all.
But she starts to come round and sees an image of the Joker standing over her with a camera (the events of The Killing Joke are partly canon, but she wasn't permanently crippled this time), and she punches Virtue hard.  She disables Tremor too as she imagines herself shot in the gut on the floor of her home.  The approaches Burden who says, "I am a little bit frightened right now ma'am!".

Batgirl starts to help the others up and says they triggered a traumatic memory for her.  One of The Movement's eyes on the street says she's seen Reese.  The location is transmitted to Katharsis who locates him.  He tells her to leave him alone, she replies "you're sort of bringing a ruckus"  They fight while Katharsis compliments him on his good looks.
Katharsis finds Reese.
Elsewhere the Graveyard Shift hand their notice into Mr. Cannon.  He calls them cowards, Anguish says "maybe but we're still alive". Mr. Cannon says to Terry they have to find another solution to their "little Channel M problem".

Batgirl apologises to Virtue for practically breaking her nose.  She looks around the HQ and is told they feeld, clothe, house and protect those society has failed.  Batgirl thinks she may have misjudged them.  Virtue says she has Katharsis dealing with the problem of Reese, "I trust her good judgement".  Cut to Katharis and Reese kissing in the air.

With things a bit quieter  Tremor tries to have a word with Mouse over his infatuation with her.  She says she is flattered but:

Tremor: "Mouse, I'm asexual".

Mouse doesn't understand, ("A sexual what?") and nor does Burden much to Vengeance Moth's amusement.
Superheroing doesn't always result in sexy times, alas.
Virtue tells Batgirl they'll take care of Reese, but Batgirl says that's not happening.  Reese and Katharsis meanwhile have made love. "They are going to kill me" says Reese to her.  But she reassures him she won't allow that.  She flies him to a bridge to explain it doesn't matter what he does, because on one side of the bridge is the 'Tweens.  Every city has them.

The others are waiting on the bridge too.  Katharsis defends Reese, but Virtue tells him he's killed two Coral City cops earlier.  Angered she turns and says to him:

Katharsis: "Dammit.  Did you we just.. just do that when you still had cop blood on your hands?"
Deciding Reese's fate.
Reese looks sad and says he was going to be a hero.  Katharsis gets ready to chop his head off, but Batgirl disarms her.  Virtue says, "there is no good side here... none that I can see."  They decide to let the Coral City cops deal with him which satisfies Batgirl.  Before she leaves she invites Virtue to Gotham, they need some positivity.

Virtue: "We don't always get a choice Batgirl.  We don't always get to choose."

Some days later The Tall Man arrives in Coral City saying he is looking for the devil, "An' I've come to take him home".  Rainmaker and Virtue have managed to have a date, and have a passionate snog at the end of it.
Well sometimes superheroing DOES get you sexytimes!
The Tall Man comes to the soup kitchen Burden and Katharsis are helping at.  Katharsis notes Burden has a real thing about family when one of the homeless calls him "son".  Sadly Burden admits, "they did not think well of me". The Tall Man comes over and says it is because of the blood on his hands and he has come to take Burden home.  He is Jacob, Burden's brother.

Katharsis tries to stop him and Jacob beats her almost unconcious.  Burden hugs her and thanks her and goes without a fight with Jacob before he can hurt anymore people.  Later the rest of the group convene and Virtue tries to follow Jacob's emotional trail but is overwhelmed by the rage and hatred it is made up of, "he is made of hate.  Made of it".
Burden's brother Jacob is a dick.
Katharsis suggest following Burdens emotional trail instead and we get a shot of Jacob flying home carry Burden with him.  They arrive at their religious commune an Elder York says they didn't want Burden back after he killed his father, it is due to Jacob's kindess that he is back "for the dignity of the trials.  Thank him for the merciful scourge you are to receive boy".

Burden is dragged to a cross and tied to it.  He says he admits killing his father but can't recall doing it.  Jacob tells the story of their childhood, but his self aggrandising words are at odds with the images showing the truth.

We see him flying as a child.  He says he was "born of angels and given to a Godly woman".  We then see him telling his parents that the newly born baby is "the devil's own leavings". He says he prayed and prayed for Burden until his knees bled, while we see that actually he tried to drown a young Burden to bring his devil power out.
Burden's unhappy childhood.
Father scourged Burden daily, "but in the end he was too kind, too gentle by half" as we see Burden tied to a bed being whipped across his naked back. One day Jacob woke Burden up and showed him their father's dead body saying Burden did it.  That's when Burden ran away.

He opens his wings and is about to brand Burden with a hot iron, Katharsis appears and punches him, saying "he's not your brother anymore.  He's our brother."  While they fight, Virtue tells the crowd Jacob is lying.  Burden then changes into his demon self and takes Jacob on.

Jacob: "I have the face of an angel and a heart of filth.  While you are my opposite brother.  They will always choose me".
Demons are cooler than angels anyway.
Burden rams Jacob's face into the hot coals, and as he turns back their mother runs to Jacob saying "you hurt my beautiful son.  You monster!  You abomination before God".

Burden and the others leave, but before he goes, Burden turns as says to the crowd, "also?  I like other boys."  And they head home.
Burden triumphant with his new family.
The final issue starts with captain Meers  finding Virtue leaving her place of work.  He asks, "why The Movement?  What was the endgame here?"  She replies that she has a "silly little dream" where they could be part of something better, "where people cared about each other".

She says that they live in the 'Tweens, they'll never join the club that lives on Mount Olympus.  He tells her she's a kid and the world isn't her responsibility.  She tells him when she was younger she manifested her power and her mum made a "terrible decision" and had her declared dead and sent away to live with an aunt with her father none the wiser.

Mr. Cannon meanwhile is contemplating his wife's grave and asks her to forgive him for his weakness. He then asks an assisstant if she has found the cop, she says yes and "he's agreed to you terms."

Down in Movement HQ, Virtue fixes Mouse up with a woman who works in a pet shop and loves rats.  She has even bought him cheese.  Mouse tells Tremor he is with Margaret now, much to Tremor's relief.  Katharsis says Virtue is amazing at this sort of thing.  Burden wonders if their is the perfect guy out there for him as well.
Mr. Cannon needs help.
Then Vengeance Moth detects someone approaching via the tunnels.  It's Mr. Cannon.  One of his aides swipes Mouse's rats and he attacks her, but Mr. Cannon says he is here to negociate not fight.

Virtue carries on telling the story of what happened next.  He wonders why they agreed to work with Mr. cannon, she says she could detect his feelings as a father, it's the nature of her power that she finds "something to hold on to in even the worst of people".  She says the reason she was sent away and declared dead was because she lashed out at her father when he grounded her for seeing a girl she liked and hospitalised him.

Anyway, they agreed to help Mr. Cannon catch the Cornea Killer, and go to the graveyard where he says he'll be.  But Terry fights back, wounding Mouse with a knife to the chest.  Then ex-police officer Whitt fires on them from the bushes.
The death of the Cornea Killer via corrupt ex-cop.
It was a set up to kill The Movement and have Terry take the credit but also die a hero. Whitt's first shot just skims Katharsis.  He gets Virtue in his sights but Terry pushes her away and he gets shot in the head instead.  They leave Mr. Cannon to greive his son's death.

Virtue tells Captain Meers that she hated him for a long time because of him shooting her father, but now she knows he is a good man.  He says he doesn't see much of his own daughter nowadays, so perhaps he could look in on her from time to time.  They hug.

He tells her to be careful, "they'll never change enough fit in with the Justice people".  Virtue responds:

Virtue: "Oh I know.  That was never the plan.  But sooner or later captain, they're going to have to change to fit in with us".
And they all lived happily ever after...
And that brings the whole series to a premature end.  It's a real shame tumblr popularity couldn't be reflected in sales.  It was never going to be a mega seller, but it's a shame it was felt there was no place for a metahuman team of young immigrants of varying sexualities, working at street level to protect the "little people".  The series at least comes to a decent end, and doesn't feel too abrupt.  We were just getting to know the characters thanks to Simone's skillful way with words, the coversations felt authentic and not some embarrassing attempt to be hip.  She was helped immeasurably by Freddie Williams II's down and dirty artwork adept both at showing superheroes fighting or showing one character having to be enticed into a shower.  DC took a risk with The Movement and got exactly the right author writing it, but like future attempts at diversity in the DCYou, the word just didn't get out to the less social media inclined comicbook readership.  I also have this terrible fear that now Gail Simone is gone from DC, the characters will end up expendable cannon fodder in some future "Crisis Crossover" type event.  Don't do that DC, please leave them alone with their happy ending.  Please....


  1. Interesting stuff - this is a title that i was completely unaware of, i must admit. Thoughts:

    Mouse's declaration of love is possibly even wore awkward and facepalmy than any of mine have been. It takes a lot to achieve that.

    Vengeance Moth is one of my favourite character names ever.

  2. It's very much a culty one, the writer went out of her way to do something different with LGBT and an Asexual hero of varying immigrant backgrounds as well as being members of the lower working class and underclass. And aimed at an audience that this sort of stuff would be novel to as well. It deserved more time to find an audience, DC is waaaay to fast too pull the trigger on new titles (I am still bitter about the DC Rebirth oh you'll be hearing more about THAT when I look at the final round of DCYou books in January!).

    Anyway, if a lady declared her love to me and handed me a rat I'd be pleased. Rat's are nice. Poor Mouse, if it's any consolation to a fictional character his habit of being cute and shirtless has gained him a tumblr fandom :D

    Vengeance Moth is a great name even if it does conjure up a hero whose power is to make your clothes fall to bits or something.

  3. DC should be ashamed of loosing gail simone! i mean I know she is doing some cool stuff elsewhere but she really makes superheroes relatable and cool. she needs to do Deadpool again!

  4. I admit I also think DC didn't do right by Simone a lot of the time, though she seems very zen about the whole thing on her tumblr, she's said she would still work at DC in the future, but losing her with the cancellation of Secret Six (again) is another loss of diversity in and out of the comics. I'm looking forward to reading the first trade of "Clean Room" it looks pretty damn twisted!

  5. It'd be cool if Vengeance Moth got into a relationship with someone with light-based powers who was called Beacon or Blaze or something. Now that the characters' book has ended we can headcanon new stories for them. (Yes, I made a neologism that was originally a noun into a verb. Bite me.)

    I know Mouse is supposed to be cute and a waif and all, but his power sucks. And it's unhygienic.

  6. Vengeance Moth needs her own series, because seriously, a physically disabled woman who can fly and project energy is awesome. I like your headcanon idea.

    Mouse is sweet, he's just not very well socialised and they did make him have a shower! I'm guessing that if the series had continued he would have learned to interact with humans a bit better. Also don't diss his power, riding a tidal wave of rats is a cooool way to make an entrance!

  7. By the way, 'Christopher' is the name of a saint and is supposed to mean 'one who carries/bears Christ'. There was a legend that Saint Christopher carried the baby Jesus across a river. So Burden's burden might not be what his evil brother thinks it is. (Also, Jacob unfairly stole his brother's birthright in the Old Testament.)

  8. Wow, that's really interesting. Knowing Gail Simone's attention to detail that was likely all intentional. I suppose that makes Jacob trying to drown him in a river symbolic as well. Burden/Christopher is a cute character, damn I loved ALL these characters! Whhhhhhy DC?!!