THE MOVEMENT #12 (Gail Simone, Freddie Williams II) is the closing statement in a noble vision for the future of comics.
When Gail Simone began THE MOVEMENT one year ago, it was with a very specific mission statement. Some inaccurate early publicity painted it as a strangely timed, superheroic analysis of the “Occupy Wall Street” and “Anonymous” affairs, and was paired with another ill-fated original teen hero book, about ultra-rich celebutantes (THE GREEN TEAM: TEEN TRILLIONAIRES), as a way of airing both sides of a class divide.
But while class warfare was a theme in THE MOVEMENT, that’s not what it was about. THE MOVEMENT was a comic about justice. Not the justice that comes with putting a super-powered maniac in jail, but the justice that is demanded by and denied to modern society. It was a comic about inclusiveness, one that demonstrated you don’t have to fit any particular profile to make a difference. It was a comic about the changing landscape of comic book culture. People who read comics are coming in every shape, size, and background, and they yearn for books which speak to their personal stories. But THE MOVEMENT #12 demonstrates that, most of all, it was a comic ahead of its time.
The cancellation of THE MOVEMENT was announced some time ago. But even though it was often the lowest selling comic of The New 52, DC editorial, with uncharacteristic magnanimity, allowed Simone and Williams a few extra months to lay their newborn team of characters to rest. Because of that, the issue carries a tone of finality which often comes hard to other series faced with cancelation, often forced to wrap things up with a hastily edited last few pages of an ongoing story arc.
A set of splash pages early in the issue calls to mind one of my favorite finales to a canceled book, BATGIRL #24 (Bryan Q. Miller, Pere Pérez). There, an extended segment presents a tantalizing, painfully unreachable window into stories that might have been. Here, we see The Movement teaming up with the Justice League against DC’s most notorious villains.
But it’s more of a thematic message than a showcase of unmet plans. It’s a dream about diversity: DC’s signature stable of straight white heroes, all alike, allowing room for a greater variety of backgrounds and experiences. It’s a dream of a kinder place, where not every story has to be shrouded in darkness. Someday soon, Simone and Williams promise us over and over again, this could be the face of the comic book universe.
After only twelve issues to hand craft such a nuanced new corner of the DC Universe, any ending is going to seem abrupt. Gail Simone does the absolute best anyone could under the circumstances, but the jarring feeling one gets with a mandated finale to an ongoing series is unavoidable. The last plot threads are all addressed, those characters who need a final emotional breakthrough get one, and it all feels a little too neat by necessity.
One such breakthrough, that of (too few) fan favorite Mouse finding a romantic partner in the rat loving Margaret, feels cartoonish in its convenience. Nevertheless, their meet-cute provides some of the series’ signature goofiness to this emotionally dense piece, and helps deliver the valuable message which underlies the romantic aspect of this series: no matter who you are, there’s someone out there for you. No one ever has to be alone, if they don’t want to be.
Throughout its run, THE MOVEMENT has provided one of the most unique voices in the New 52. Still, if sales numbers are your only metric, the series might seem like a failure. But one only has to peruse Gail Simone’s Tumblr blog for a downpour of stories about people discovering comics for the first time through the characters she created for this risky experiment, because for the first time, there were heroes just like them.
The message of THE MOVEMENT #12 is a powerful one. No matter who you are, even if you don’t fit the mold of the Batmen, Supermen, and Wonder Women on all the magazine covers, never believe you can’t be a hero. Everyone matters, especially you. Go to any comic book convention in the world, take a look at the wonderful, diverse faces, and you’ll see how important this message is.
There are going to be lots of heroes like those in THE MOVEMENT #12, much sooner than you think. And even if Virtue, Katharsis, Mouse, Vengeance Moth, Tremor and Burden aren’t amongst them, they should always be remembered as pioneers in the stark white halls of DC Comics. We should all be sad to see them go, but thankful that they at least got a chance.
See you in the trades, Coral City.