The youth movement in Coral City may have run its course, but there’s still a few loose ends left untied, and a few last tales to tell… Your Major Spoilers review of The Movement #12 awaits!
Previously in The Movement: Coral City is a corrupt cesspool that makes Gotham City look like Mayberry, and it’s superhumans aren’t the kind that you’d see in the Teen Titans. But, thanks mostly to leader Virtue, The Movement found some success against not only bad guys, but in helping to stave off the ills of their city. Their headquarters doubles as a shelter for those with nowhere else to go, providing shelter, food and even education to help anyone who needed their assistance. The CCPD, however, has other ideas about what The Movement represents, and there’s still the question of The Cornea Killer, a raving lunatic serial killer preying on the very population that The Movement wants to protect. Something, as the old saying goes, has got to give.
“I HAD THIS SILLY LITTLE DREAM…”
I have to say, I’ve enjoyed the tone and characters of The Movement from the very beginning, but I’ve had some issues with the creative team’s balancing of that emotional content with the story. It’s tough to do a story that’s at once meant to be very realistic and down-to-earth and also get the superhero stuff in there, and every issue has been a balancing act. It’s something of a bittersweet surprise, then, to find that this last issue gets the balance exactly right for me, as Captain Meers of the Coral City PD tracks down team leader Virtue in her non-costumed identity. The first part of the issue makes me sad for lost potential, as Virtue explains her dream of becoming a superhero so that she can finally be “part of something better”, to help create a better world where those in power help those without it. The visuals of her daydream are gorgeous, showing her team in an imaginary all-out battle against the forces of evil, holding their own alongside the likes of Superman and Wonder Woman…
…and then, she says, she remembers where she lives. It’s a beautiful moment, with a heartbreaking (but perfectly crafted) ending that cruelly pokes a hole in Virtue’s balloon of hope. Virtue tells us more of her origins, and we get an utterly charming moment where the members of the team set up Mouse on a date with a sweet girl named Margaret. Even in this quick-hit form, it’s a great sequence, and Simone writing romance, as she did in ‘Secret Six’, will always be one of the things I love most about comic books, right up there with Kirby doing cosmic, Gil Kane drawing a guy getting punched so hard he somersaults, and Fabian Nicieza writing teen angst.
The second half of the issue is devoted to bringing everything around full-circle, as recurring jerkwad villain Mister Cannon comes to Virtue and The Movement with a plea to help him stop his son from killing again. We, the readers, have been aware since the very first issues of the book that Cannon’s son is The Cornea Killer, but our heroes set out together for the last time (and, now that I think of it, perhaps the *first* time) to battle the villain who has been killing their people. Simone isn’t the only one pulling out all the stops in this final issue, as artist Freddie Williams also hits his stride with the visuals this issue. The fantasy sequence in the beginning of the book is good, but the final battle with The Cornea Killer amazed me by being both a cool superhero fight and a tacit admission that the characters aren’t quite up to Justice League status yet. It is stirring to see Virtue, Burden, Tremor, Mouse, Katharsis and Vengeance Moth in full regalia, but the immediate violence is shocking, and as the issue wraps up, we find that Coral City will never change. (I’m not going to spoiler it, but you should really check it out, it’s a rollercoaster.) The issue ends with Virtue explaining that she knows that she’ll never change enough to make it into the Justice League, but that, eventually, The Justice League will have to change to fit in with The Movement. It’s a perfect meta-statement for the book, as well as a strong character moment for Virtue, especially coming on the heels of her forgiving Captain Meers and even accepting his offer to “look in” on her. There were some sniffles from me as things wrapped up, and I love that the last statement of the book is a hopeful one, even though (in-universe and out), the whole experiment will probably be viewed as a bust.
THE BOTTOM LINE: A WELL-HANDLED LAST ISSUE
This was clearly a very personal, very meaningful book for the creators, and that makes it doubly-sad that it never quite found a big enough audience to sustain it. Seeing this issue makes it clear that Simone and Williams were hitting their stride on this title, and the fact that they were able to wrap up as many of the plots as they were in this issue is a testament to the skill of the creative team. Another frustration comes in the fact that this book’s cancellation strikes a HUGE blow against diversity in the DCU, leaving us again with the standard roster of white male Silver Age characters and Wonder Woman. All in all, given how well-crafted this issue is, it’s a shame to see the book go, and The Movement #12 ends up being the best issue of its short run, wrapping up plotlines martial, romantic and familial in a way that feels natural and organic, and makes for a wonderful read, earning 4 out of 5 stars overall. I sincerely hope that Virtue and her crew show up again somewhere in the DCU (even though I know better) and I still recommend the series overall to comics lovers old and new…