20 July 2013

"The Movement" #3 and "Batgirl" #22 by Gail Simone

It's Saturday morning and for me that means time to read (and review) comic books. Why did it take me until this Saturday to read and review a pair of comics that were both published before this week? I was away visiting a friend, which I'll discuss in a forthcoming post. Besides, what better way to mark that I'm nowhere near San Diego International Comic-Con this weekend?

The Movement #3

"Class Warfare"
Gail Simone - Writer
Freddie Williams II - Artist
Chris Sotomayor - Colorist
Carlos M. Mangual - Letterer
Amanda Conner - Cover
Dave McCaig - Cover Color
Kyle Andrukeiwicz - Asst. Editor
Joey Cavalieri - Editor
Matt Idelson - Group Editor
32 Pages/$2.99
Date of Publication: 3 July 2013

Continuing directly from issue #2, Katharsis is pummeled by Coral City S.W.A.T. officers while the rest of the team struggles against Rainmaker. The latter of these conflicts lasts until story page 14, by which point I sort of got "beatdown fatigue". The end of that confrontation is fairly anticlimactic, too, with Virtue calling for a truce and Rainmaker asking, "You don't work for the man?" It's all over just like that. A fight that lasts nearly half the issue all comes down to that simple exchange.

On story page 13, Burden channels Satan (or some similar demonic force). Rainmaker takes him down, shouting, "I don't know what you are. But I'm not Christian!" The only Biblical reference he had made was to Sodom, whose story appears in the Old Testament but also in the Torah as well as the Qu'ran, meaning non-Christians of the Abrahamic religions would still recognize and respond to the same, uh, character. Of course, yelling, "But I'm not an Abrahamic believer!" is clunky so there's that.

More interesting is a scene in the middle of all that in which Vengeance Moth delivers cheeseburgers to the two captured cops. Officer Whitt taunts her by pointing out that The Movement's treatment of prisoners fails to live up to even the reluctant standards of law enforcement, daring her to question whether the police - corrupt as Whitt and some others are - are the more merciful group. It's an ethical dilemma and one that rescues this issue from being wall-to-wall beatings. It also made me want a cheeseburger. At 7:30 in the morning. So thanks for that, Gail Simone.

Carlos M. Mangual's lettering really stands out in this book. It's kind of rough and complements Freddie Williams II's artwork nicely. Those two elements give the book a very gritty aesthetic that suits the narrative.

Batgirl #22
"A Day in a Life of Endless Velocity"
Gail Simone - Writer
Fernando Pasarin - Penciller
Jonathan Glapion - Inker
Blond - Colorist
Dezi Sienty - Letterer
Alex Garner - Cover
Katie Kubert - Editor
Mike Marts - Group Editor
Batman created by Bob Kane
32 Pages/$2.99
Date of Publication: 10 July 2013

Issue #22 is a much needed respite for Barbara Gordon, who has been through the fire - literally - since The New 52 returned her to action as Batgirl. She doesn't don her nighttime clothing once in this issue, which is kind of daring in a superhero book but it works here. It reminds us that Barbara - not Batgirl - is the real character in a way that Bruce Wayne really isn't the soul of a Batman book. Her date with Ricky is charming, though I'm struggling to recall how exactly they got together. I also enjoyed the brief gal pal camaraderie between Babs and Alysia, and Simone did a nice job reminding us of James Gordon, Jr.'s recent "demise"*, for which their father obsessively blames Batgirl.

This issue doesn't end on a typical cliffhanger. Instead, we're left with the sense that the eye of the storm is passing and what will come next will be rough. There are a lot of relationships up in the air right now, and these dynamics are what make Batgirl so compelling. I've always cared about Barbara, and to a lesser extent Jim Gordon. I've taken quickly to Alysia and I like Ricky so far, too. It's nice to know that someone sees characters in a superhero book as more than costumed brawlers, and that humanity is why I have loved this book from issue #1.

Incidentally, it appears that both The Movement and Batgirl are being skipped during DC's "Forever Evil" gimmick month in September, meaning after next month's issues I/we will go two months before we get back to these books. My thoughts on "Forever Evil" are already on record, and knowing the two books I read are being skipped to accommodate it does not endear me to DC, except for knowing that they didn't run roughshod over these two books and force it into their pages. I guess this was the compromise between the storytellers and the marketers who run the show. Any book that wouldn't play ball has to sit on the bench that month. You couldn't at least run Batgirl Annual #2 during this lull?

Whatever, DC. Whatever.

Gail Simone has written Batman: The Dark Knight #23.1 featuring The Ventriloquist for "Forever Evil", so that'll have to be my fix for September. Well played, DC.