The Movement #4: Riot or Revolution?
The Movement #4 gives us some backstory on its main characters, but Gail Simone's story is also starting to coalesce into a wish fulfillment drama for those of us who sometimes feel absolutely overwhelmed by the corruption in the halls of power and the immense power wielded by the corrupt. We get it from all sides every day – Congress is full of self-serving, bought-and-paid-for cowards and deluded, self-righteous contrarians that accomplish nothing but furthering their own careers, the Supreme Court is all about party politics despite being designed to be above them, the executive branch is spying on everybody and collecting personal information, the military is awash in horrifying sexual assault cases, bankers who own the politicians never pay for their crimes, and everything sucks and is bad and is dumb all the time everywhere and the well-meaning folks of the world are always going to be under the thumb of the abusers and sociopaths of the world.
As much as I loathe gun fetishism, there's an underlying paranoid sort of premise near the core of the Second Amendment debate that goes beyond the standard self-defense claims that I can never really deny. Things are so thoroughly, utterly, hopelessly broken these days that sometimes you can't help but think that we're all going to have to get together and overthrow the crap out of this government someday, and we'll need guns to do it. Not that those guns will stand up against drone strikes, but it's the principle of the thing. The government is supposed to be afraid of its people and all that, and we could use some people with superpowers on our side to deal with those drones.
Hypothetically, how would the process of revolution begin in this day and age? Civil disobedience and rioting, probably. This is the area that The Movement #4 is exploring – what's the difference between a riot and a revolution? How do people cross the line from scurrilous malcontents that Amanda Waller-types need to try and crush to legitimate motherscratchin' grievances that need to be dealt with in the public forum? The Movement is starting with the street level – the corruption of the police, along the lines of today's all-too-real article in The Onion: Insecure, Frustrated Bully With Something To Prove Considering Career In Law Enforcement.
A couple of dirty (we're talking sexual abuse dirty) cops have been captured by the heroes at the head of this Channel M movement, but the cops now have one of their own, the aggressively angry Katharsis, in custody as well, being abused by the rich guy who runs the fictional Coral City, James Cannon. We get the backstories of our heroes at last – Katharsis aka Kulap Vilaysack, is actually a refugee from Laos who became a police officer, only to lose everything when she went after an immigrant killer while she was off-duty. Mouse, aka Jayden Ravell, was a rich kid whose weird natural affinity for rodents found him eventually living in sewers. Tremor, aka Roshanna Chatterji, is a Bengali farm girl whose earth-moving powers got her branded a witch, whose lost-girl lifestyle ended with her friends killed in a drunk driving accident, and who was drowning in shame before Waller tapped her to infiltrate the movement. But the main conflict of the issue is that these young, angry people are confronting the police to get Katharsis back, led by the emotion-riding Virtue and sporting hordes of anonymous (get it?) people with masks covering their faces – not Guy Fawkes masks, but rather masks with cameras built right in, capturing all the abuse and violence perpetrated by the police in the process. With the timely arrival of Rainmaker bolstering their efforts, they're able to succeed – and the movement is now spreading to places like Metropolis and Gotham City as well.
It's a very murky situation – the cops are branding them terrorists, and the government considers them the same, since they stuck Tremor among them as a spy. They did just lay siege to a police station, assault a shitload of cops and spring a suspect from custody. The cops were thugs on Cannon's payroll who have been a blight on the city for years and the suspect was being violently abused, but authorities tend to back up other authorities and blame the whistleblowers – especially if they're blowing with violence. On one side, it's a riot. On the other, it's a revolution. It's a very compelling place to set Simone's style of twisted character drama full of broken people and shattered lives, reaching out to break and shatter even more in the pursuit of justice and righteousness.
Freddie Williams II's artwork is a taste I'm currently trying to acquire, because there is a good deal to like. There are a lot of great, subtle touches he uses with body language, tons of detail and I really dig the character designs, but there's some kind of roughshod sensibility to it that is a little hard on the eyes sometimes. It just feels a bit messy, although one supposes that's perfectly appropriate for a book about a grubby, scrappy group of underground rebels in a city caked with a film of moral turpitude.
Overall, The Movement is certainly moving along fast. It has likable characters and a backdrop of chaotic civil unrest that feels painfully relevant. It may not have quite hit its stride yet, but the foundation is solid. The groundwork is there. The future is promising.