Simone Reveals THE MOVEMENT Characters, Talks Politics


When news hit the Internet that comic writer Gail Simone would be launching The Movement, a new DC comic that explored the "Occupy" movement, reactions were mixed. After all, "Occupy" at least sounds political, and comic fans are wary of superheroes getting political.

But Simone, who already writes DC's Batgirl, wants to set the record straight. The comic is not a "political" story, but instead does what just about any superhero-based comic tends to do — it explores relationships between characters in a fantasy world under unusual circumstance.

On May 1, readers will get to check out the comic, which features art by Freddie Williams II. Newsarama talked to Simone about the comic as DC provided a little art from Williams to give readers a taste of what they'll see.

Newsarama: Gail, who makes up this team? And what do each of the characters bring to the team?

Simone: I can't reveal all the characters, but sharp-eyed readers will recognize Tremor, who first appeared in the Secret Six, and Katharsis, from the very popular "Knightfall" story in Batgirl, two of my favorite recent badass chicks.

Nrama: What influenced your choice of team members?

Simone: When I write a team book, it's all about how they relate to each other, and what they bring to the team and the book. Whether it's Black Canary and Huntress, or Bane and Scandal, I look for a relationship that people can believe in, that they want to follow and learn more about.

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The Movement

In this book, the whole central question is, what happens when powerless people suddenly have all the power?

Nrama: What do they share in common, and how do they come together?

Simone: They all have reason to be mad at the system, which hasn't protected them, or even tolerated them, and they come together because one of them is America's Caesar. More than that, I cannot say, yet.

Nrama: Was this concept something you came up with on your own? Or how did it come about?

Simone: It was my concept, something I've been aiming at since I started in comics. I've always wanted to see us do something that brings the real world a little closer to the DCU, but that still keeps the fantasy element alive and vibrant.

Nrama: Does this deal with subjects that you're personally interested in?

Simone: Oh, yeah, absolutely. But this isn't meant to be my views, I think that'd be tiresome by somewhere around page two. But we do talk about social issues, and there's no guarantee this group will do the right thing. They aren't the JLA.

Nrama: It sounds like the comic is in DC continuity. How much does it tie into the rest of the DCU?

Simone: It's in the DCU, it's steeped in DCU in subtle ways, and the rest of the DCU is going to be watching this group closely. To the poor people of their city, they're heroes. But the rest of the world views them with fear and suspicion and would feel a lot more comfortable if they were taken away in handcuffs.

We're going to see some DCU characters, and a couple from elsewhere. It's exciting. I can't wait for some of these guests to be revealed.

Nrama: The word "political" is being associated with the comic, and that word always ruffles some feathers in the Internet audience. Is The Movement a very political comic? How would you describe it in the context of it's "political"-ness?

Simone: Well, it's polarizing. As the news came out, I ended up being attacked on a bunch of rabid political sites based on absolutely nothing, it was interesting to watch. It's this weird reflex action at this point, people flipping out not about content, but about the very idea of someone who might have a conflicting viewpoint.

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The Movement

I don't think the book is about liberal vs. conservative. It's about values that comics have always been about, the struggle against injustice on behalf of the little guy, the powerless and innocent. That's pretty bi-partisan.

Nrama: For some reason, when I read the description, I thought of Secret Six...but with a modern, technological context. Am I off? Or are there similarities?

Simone: It's two groups of outlaws, and it definitely pushes the edges. But it's a book about people. It's not a ton of people sitting in front of computer screens. They're mostly out on the streets. They have a wickedly powerful social network presence, but they're not hand-off, they're getting their hands dirty.

Nrama: So if it's a group, you know, with people who read comic books... that means "team-up." But I get the feeling this is something different?

Simone: It's a group, within a group, within an army.

Nrama: And the solicitation sounds so serious, Gail! Are you going all dry and intellectual on us, or will we still see some of that dark/oddball humor spill out in The Movement?

Simone: Oh, there's funny stuff, and there's weird stuff. I don't want people to feel like they're in church reading this book. If you liked Birds of Prey or Secret Six, there's some of that intense relationship stuff in there.

I love the cast, they're sassy and fun, and they fight for what they believe in. At the same time, they're incautious. They're going to **** up, and that makes them fascinating.

Nrama: I know you're trying to keep much of the comic's premise secret, but is there anything you've seen in the reaction from fans that you want to clarify?

Simone: Probably the idea that the Movement is based on Occupy, but it really isn't. For some reason, Occupy has become part of the social awareness in a way that hundreds of other protest efforts haven't. The media doesn't even cover some of these massive, peaceful protests, and that's interesting by itself. The narrative becomes something like Occupy on one side, the Tea Party on the other, and nothing else seems to come on the media's radar. It's convenient and lazy.

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The Movement

There are elements of all the social movements in recent years in the book, because that's the world we live in, and it's about time some of that showed up in the DCU.

Nrama: Why does Freddie Williams II fit with the comic?

Simone: We really gave a lot of thought to who was the best choice for this. My wonderful, lovely editor, Joey Cavalieri, suggested Freddie, and it just hit me immediately, I couldn't believe I didn't suggest him myself. I love his work, it's big, it's bold, it's kind of fearless. He has a wonderful sense of design and the storytelling is immaculate.

He designed all the characters and nailed each one immediately. It doesn't look like any other book on the stands, it's sort of street level and larger than life at the same time.

He's a wonderful partner. And the covers are by Amanda Conner, you can't do any better than that. Every couple days I get new art from one or both of these people and it's always a squeee moment.

Nrama: Anything else you can say about The Movement? Just a few key words to get us guessing?

Simone: Sure! Rats, jail,, riots, sex, sweatshop, demons, a unicycle, two unbenched characters (at least), earthquakes, church, twitter, bad cops, good cops, affairs, a witch, and the grossest snack ever.

You don't want to miss this book; it's a weird, fun, nasty, angry, and hilarious blast.

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