Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Harley Quinn and Power Girl (#1-6)

"I've had it!  I'm tired of being in space! I'm tired of everything being completely bonkers!" - Power Girl

Well I couldn't let ladies month end without featuring DC's most popular and bankable female character.  No not Wonder Woman silly billy!  She's like 75 years old, how unhip!  I'm talking about quirky clown woman Harley Quinn, who first appeared in Batman: The Animated series and was once in an abusive relationship with the Joker. Now  she's in a much sexier and healthier relationship with Poison Ivy.  If you're a confused Marvel Zombie reading this, well think female Deadpool - antihero, comedic sociopath, fourth wall breaker and pansexual soon to be seen in a Suicide Squad movie near you. I know her best from her appearances in the Arkham videogames but she's moved on since then as a part of the New Suicide Squad and has several series of her own. It goes without saying she's surviving the DC Rebirth, I just hope she keeps having fun that's all (she's keeping her writing team so it's looking good). This miniseries has her teamed up with an amnesiac and somewhat confused Power Girl who Harley's convinced her she's the sidekick of and whose history is so complicated and so tied up with the various "Crisis Crossovers" it's like a continutiy klein bottle.  Basically she's the Earth-2 cousin of the Kal-L Superman, Kara Zor-L not to be confused with Supergirl, the cousin of Earth-1 Kal-El Superman, Kara Zor-El and... oh fuck it just read the wikipedia summary if you need more than that.  What you definitely need to know is this miniseries is filthy, in that way kids will miss while the adults can't stop giggling.

It's written by the writers of Harley's solo series, Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner, with a third writer Justin Gray joining them. Stephane Roux is on main art duties, though other artists contribute to some of the issues too when there are drug trips and flashbacks to be portrayed.   I like the art, it captures the madcap goofiness very well.  Also I like the way Harley and Power Girl are drawn.  Of course Power Girl has a big boobs, but she's drawn muscular and voluptuous rather than a stick with tits stuck on.  And Harley has a nice curviness to her as well as opposed to the skinny goth I often see her portrayed as.  I approve anyway.  So what's the backstory behind this minseries, lets check the back cover blurb and see:

"Hey, remember the panel gutter between panels three and four of page twenty of HARLEY QUINN #12? What?  You DON'T? It's only, like, the most memorable panel gutter of the twenty-first century!  We'll jog your memory - our heroes, Harley Quinn and Power Girl were tossed through a teleportation ring, dropping them into galaxies unknown?  Well either way, have we got the miniseries for you, in which the full tale of that momentus, momentary pause can be told!"

Oh like that is it?  Hopefully this gives you a clue as to how utterly silly this tale of perky loon Harley Quinn and the perenially bewildered and exasperated Power Girl is.  So lets continue.
Our story begins.
The first joke is that this is the second time they are sent through a teleportation ring by Clock King and Sports Master.  The first time is chronicled in Harley's own series and saw them fighting an entity called Manos.  They used his toe ring to get back but Power Girl didn't have it when they instantly got sent back through the same ring, only to emerge somewhere else and where this silly story begins proper.

Harley: "Hey where are we at pussy cat?"

Power Girl: "Nowhere good".

They have a look around and meet a creepy little guy who talks like Yoda.  When they repel his sexual advances he sics a hydra on them, "he's so cuuuuute!" squeals Harley.  Then one of the heads eats Power Girl and so Harley jumps on one head and starts pounding.  Power Girl bursts out of the hydra and they continue fighting.  Harley manages to bully some weaponry out of the Yoda-guy.

Harley: "When life gives you lemons... put down the damn lemons and get yourself some extraordinary ordinance!"
Harley is easily pleased.
Between them the Hydra is vanished.  Then Harley accidentally shoots Power Girl with a rocket which sends her careering back into a giant robot head, which them activates and scans them both.

It recognises Power Girl as Kara Zor-L, "initiating love nest protocol" it says much to her confusion.  Inside is seventies style pad, scented with "Lord Vartox's favourite cologne.  Acquired on his last visit to Earth in 1974".  The head starts flying, saying it will take them to Lord Vartox.

However Vartox is in a sticky situation, a galactic tyrant called Oreth Odeox has him in a torture device and is trying to break him. All the while his minions take over the planet.  The Giant Head fills in our heroes on the situation:

Giant Head: "Oreth Odeox is a cosmotyrant that has taken it upon himself to clease the universe of hedonism".
Big Giant Head No.1
Then the Giant Head is attacked and crash lands.  Harley and Power Girl climb out and are immediately accosted by Mo'zit Blaqhed, the sector's Judicial Magistrate.  He assesses Power Girl:

Mo'zit: "Skin tight clothing, unacceptable levels of cleavage, possible karflippian toe, lack of undergarments, sleeves but no pants, suspected prostitution..."

And Harley blows his head off with her tiny gun.  Power Girl is all "what the hell Harley?" and Harley insists she didn't know the gun was that powerful and anyway he was pissing her off.

Then Power Girl gets blasted in the back by some minions and she punches them all out before crushing Harley's gun.  Some ragged refugees appear and recognise Power Girl, at first they think she is an android, then are delighted to find she is the real thing.
Groovicus Mellow.
The leader introduces himself as Groovicus Mellow, Lord Vartox's head science dude.  He says he was there when Lord Vartox took her for a mate after a contraception bomb had been exploded sterilizing their planet.

Power Girl: "Stop.  I am aware there is a multiverse.  I know this because my timeline died and I'm the sole survivor.  Also this whole Earth-2 thing happened.  Therefore we know there are other me's out there.  Time is a flat circle and all that."

Groovicus has his mind blown by all this, but Power Girl demands to know where they can find a teleportation ring and are told Lord Vartox has one.

He's been moved to the "Lust Moon of Lustox" and they can take one of the ships docked a few miles away to get up there.  Then more minions of Odeox arrive through a crack in space.  Many, many arrive.  Harley tells Power Girl, "betcha wish ya didn't squish my widdle raygun now d'ontcha?"

Power Girl tells Harley to get the others to safety while she buys them some time  Groovicus says he knows of a place, "the Love Lair".

Harley: "Will there be food and refreshments? Fruity-flavoured lubricants maybe?  Edible undies?  Lollipops shaped like - "

Groovicus interrupts to say if they rescue the people they can have their hearts desire.  Power Girl meanwhile is still bashing henchmen pouring out of the portal, must "shut that space hole" she thinks.

Down below, Groovicus, Harley and the others bump into a robot called "Killy McHappy 2.0".  He says his job is to collect refugees and humanoids attempting to escape Odeox.

Killy: "Because the palace is forbidden, I am authorised to sew your orifices up".
Harley and Groovicus have a whispered conversation about getting a weapon.  Groovicus says they have none having stopped their brutal ways three thousand and fourteen years ago.  Harley asks if they have a museum with any in?  Killy interrupts saying he can hear them and now it is time to "commence the sewing of orifices."

Power Girl is still fighting, "must... cork... that cosmic crack." She lands back on the planet and gets hit in the back by an energy blast.  Harley and Groovicus are fleeing Killy, who kills the rest of them.  They come to an art gallery with erotic statues in it.  Harley is told they are sculpted with "Hard Light".  She is given a pair of gloves to manipulate light and makes a giant mallet.

She pounds Killy into a more appealing looking robot form, a giant rabbit.  Groovicus says it is as if the universe approves and Killy says "This is an opportunity to reinvent myself as art".  But then Harley smashes him to bits.

Harley: "Just so you space hippies can understand.  That was an expression a'my anger, which in itself is an artform".
Harley's weapon of choice.
The stunned Power Girl is being manhandled by minions when suddenly a group of women and one man teleport on to the scene and rescue her.

They introduce themselves as Envio, Firefox, Sala Mandarr, Carnal and the one male member, Cherub.  Power Girl is confused, and Envio asks if she is jealous?  They are the "XGF" the "Ex-Girlfriend Force" which annoys Cherub because he isn't a girl and just because he was a one night stand doesn't mean he doesn't count!
The XGF and Cherub.
They are all exes of Vartox here to rescue him.  Harley then makes an entrance on a motorbike and starts attacking the XGF until Power Girl tells her they are friends.  Harley has also found a spaceship to take her and Power Girl to the Lust Moon, but not the rest.  The XGF have their own ship.  Meanwhile Odeox has finally broken Vartox and turned him into a slave, "what would you have me do Master?" says the newly evil Vartox.

Groovicus is also aboard the ship.  Harley starts recapping the story so far, saying "I'm monologue-ing in a Hunter S. Thompson voice" when asked by Power Girl what she is doing.  They fly over a canyon filled with phallic towers and huge statues of scantily clad women.  Lord Vartox built it during his fifty year long "celibacy trials".
They are then attacked by more flying minions. Harley and Power Girl go out and fight them. The XGF look on, saying their priority is Vartox.  But Cherub says he is going to go and lend a hand and leaves their dong shaped spaceship in a shuttle.  He ejects from it and causes it to explode, taking out the enemies, and asks for a lift back with Harley and Power Girl.

They rejoin the ship to find Groovicus with a cosmic bong on his head and the ship full of smoke.  This triggers a "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" trip.

Harley: "I was startin' to feel a little light headed.  Suddenly there was a terrible growl all around us an' the sky was full of Batmen...!  We had two bags a' catnip, twenty-five rounds a' hollow point bullets, half a bag a' fried bacon and three copies of the Death Of Superman".

Power Girl tells Groovicus again that this version of her has never met Vartox and that there are many parallel universes and versions of themselves, which blows his mind some more.  Then they spot a bald man on the side of the road who might be Spider "Transmetropolitan" Jerusalem.

Bald Man: "You're travelling outside of continuity, constantly morphing and adapting.  But I can see you're not enjoying this part of the voyage."

Power Girl comments it feels a bit like "filler" while Harley says it's not the destination it's the journey.  Anyway they decide to return to reality.
A trippy diversion.
They arrive at the part of the moon where Vartox was being held, but then their ship is shot down.  Groovicus says the energy signature was Vartox's but he's never seen it so dark.  Also the blast hit the ship right on the toilet area which was where Cherub was at the time.  Vartox appears and says by the time he is through with them:

Vartox: "...You too will wish you were blown to bits while seated on the commode!"

"I like him already!" pipes up Harley.  Power Girl can't believe any version of her dated that.  The XGF ship has also been shot down and crashed.  Vartox attacks them with his eye-beams.
Evil Vartox.
Harley retaliates by drawing a butt in the sand.  "Vartox does not appreciate your comicality in the face of extinction" he responds.  Power Girl punches him far away, then Groovicus pleads with her to try and reason with him  Reluctantly she agrees but they end up brawling and he accuses her of trying to distract him with her costume.  Then he blasts her with a powerful energy beam.

"Beg for mercy you heftily chassified hussy!" yells Vartox.  "I don't beg" responds Power Girl and they fight some more.  It actually looks like Vartox is getting the upperhand when Harley appears riding a giant horned cat called a "Caticorn."  He picks up Power Girl but is grabbed by Vartox who starts choking her.  She does big sad eyes at him and he releases his grip. 
No one can resist the Purr.
Then the Caticorn starts purring and Vartox begins to calm down.  Harley then gives him a heart-to-heart talking about relationships and hers in the past especially:

Harley: "Love makes ya crazy, Mistah V, but sometimes ya got so mixed up an' crazy in love, y'can't tell that yer sweetie is nasty an' your relationship is toxic".

She tells him that he and Power Girl have a beautiful thing and Vartox finally returns to his old self thanks to the purring and pep talk, although somewhat confused as he can't recall his actions as a bad guy.  So the sex machine was soothed by a giant pussy, eh?  See? Sheer filth!

Then Power Girl punches him and we get a flashback as to how Harley found the Caticorn.  She decided to follow Power Girl after she punched Vartox away the first time.  She came to a lake and a giant fish monster leaped out to try and eat her, but the Caticorn snatched it out of the air and ate it saying Harley made good bait.
Meeting the Caticorn.
Vartox then passionately kisses Power Girl who shouts "unsolicited!" and throws him away. He returns and kneels before her, asking for forgiveness. He tells her that not long ago his people faced extinction, he sought her out on Earth and they had many adventures before they repopulated the planet using a "pregnoray", much to Harley's amusement.  Then the rest of the XGF arrive on the scene.

Vartox: "Vartox doesn't see Cherub.  Has he come to regret our evening of vigorous recreation?"

Cherub, somewhat battered, appears saying he doesn't want to talk about being blown out of a restroom at thirty thousand feet.  Satisfied Vartox is safe, the XGF teleport away.

Vartox enlists Harley and Power Girl in taking down Odeox.  Odeox is ready for them though and unleashes sexy "attack nuns" (sex none?).  Power Girl takes on the nuns while Vartox and Harley face Odeox.  Odeox fires an energy blast at Vartox which blows off what little clothes Vartox is wearing.
The sight of Vartox's "diamond pillar" proves quite a distraction to Odeox, and Power Girl zaps and punches him to the ground, "we're done here" she says as she knocks Odeox out, but not before he tells her he's summoned something called "The Harvester of Sorrow."  At this news Harley can only say, "Aw, crap.  This isn't going to go well".

"I don't need all of this drama in my life.  I mean look at that!  How does one fight that?"  Power Girl is looking at the Harvester of Souls, a gigantic floating bearded head.  Power Girl grabs Odeox and hurls him at the Harvester and he disappears into on of the head's pores.  Harley asks what is it the Harvester actually does?  Harvest sorrow says Groovicus unhelpfully.

Vartox: "Harvester speaks the language of the mad.  He brings misery to entire solar systems planting seeds of hate so he can feed from the minds and bodies of all sentinent life."

Power Girl asks how they can stop it.  Groovicus and Vartox says they can't, "we're screwed" says Vartox.  "What's all this 'we' stuff?" asks Harley.  Give them the teleportation ring and they can go home.
The Harvester of Sorrow.
Vartox asks if they would abandon them in their darkest hour?  Harley says they saved him, they didnt sign on for overtime with "the space head up there".  But Power Girl says they are heroines, they don't run out on people and as she gives this inspiring speech, the Harvester blows them up.

A concussed Harley is revived by her Spirit Animal, not in fact a beaver, but a handsome man in dark glasses.  He encourages her to create a motorcycle using the Hard Light Gloves and she drives off inside the Harvester to fight it from the inside.
Harley attacks from within.
She is instantly attacked by minions, and a gummy substance is shot at her, and starts to cover her up.  She is turned into a giant jelly baby, while a recovered Power Girl and Vartox battle the Harvester outside.

Harvester: "You are now the property of the Harvester.  Please remain calm during the brain drain proceedure.  Subject's brain...bzzz...waves indicate ab-ab-abnormality.  Possible incompatibility with... zzzrrrrrr...possible contagion-n-n-n.  Potential... vir...vir... virus alert!Inzzzzzfection!

The Harvester takes on the face of the Joker.  Harley says it got into her head, and she got back into his, "an' with me came Mistah J".  As the Harvester starts to short circuit she jumps down, still a bit brain scrambled and rips off Vartox's moustache and throws it at Power Girl.

Harvest announces, "nucleus self destruction imminent" and Power Girl punches Vartox away for being about to say she was having her period, and carries Groovicus and Harley to safety as the Harvester explodes.
Oh Hell Yes.
Vartox returns and his moustache magically grows back.  Power Girl demands the teleportation ring like, now.  Vartox says he has it and goes down on one knee as it is also a wedding ring.  "Oh HELL no!" says Power Girl at this turn of events.

The final chapter shows the preparations for the Power Girl and Vartox wedding or as Harley puts it, "DC Entertainment Presents... The soon-to-be satirised cultural institution of mau-wage!"  The ceremony is being conducted by a giant blue Elvis impersonator alien.  Harley is crying and Vartox thinks she is jealous of his and Power Girl's love.

Harley: "Yeah, that, an' this is the last issue a' the mini-series an' there is still no Power Girl ongoin' book!"

Such a shame, and the DC Rebirth isn't going to be debuting her with one either.  Power Girl just wants the ceremony over with so they can get home.  But the descriptions of married love Elvis Alien is giving makes her turn and march off saying "forget it.  I'd rather walk back to my dimension".

Vartox says it is only a symbolic ceremony so she returns and says "skip to the end".  But Harley says she wants to do the "Ojection!" thing.  But saying that opens a portal up, "Umm, what's with this ostentatious opening?" Harley asks.  Then it sucks the three of them plus three purple cats that were wandering round Harley into an idealised American suburbia.
Vartox's family theme park.
Out of a house nearby a huge horde of kids comes running out shouting "Dad!" at Vartox.  The eldest introduces himself as Vartox Junior and says Power Girl looks like his mum, who is standing in the doorway of the house and says "Hello darling.  It's been a while" to Vartox.

Harley cracks open the popcorn and sits and watches things unfold with Vartox Junior next to her.  Power Girl thinks Vartox was creepy enough to seek her out in different universes and marry her and punches him into the house.  Then Vartox's Wife punches Power Girl calling her a "home wrecking hussy!"

Power Girl tries to explain to her that she just wants the teleportation ring, but Vartox's Wife punches her again saying "I... don't... care".  Then she zaps Harley with her eye-beams and as she chases after her, punches Vartox as well for good measure.  She finds Harley and the three purple cats bouncing on a trampoline.  Before she can hurt her, Power Girl smashes her into the ground and as she crawls out of the crater, Vartox's Wife is revealed to be a robot.
Robot Power Girl is not amused.
Harley yanks her brain cables out finishing her off, while Power Girl drags Vartox back having tied him up with steel girders.  "Vartox senses you're judging him" he says to the both of them.  Harley says she thinks having a family theme park is a great idea, which leads Power Girl to say that proves how crazy it is.

She releases Vartox and says "Portal. Now."  So he sadly opens it.  He starts making a speech about how much he loves Power Girl and how she stole his heart and... turns to find they left without listening to him.

They pop back out on Earth and the Clock King and Sports Master realise they are in big trouble now.  As Power Girl rips off her wedding dress, Harley declares it "an actual superhero cliffhanger".  And with that this silly, silly miniseries ends, the story continuing in Harley's own series.
And they're back home.
I really enjoyed this mini.  It's not big, it's not clever, but I had a big grin on my face as I read it.  It's bawdy and a little vulgar, full of double and single entendres and we see more objectified manflesh than we do female despite Power Girl's boob window.  The pairing of the super serious and super confused Power Girl with the wisecracking, freewheeling Harley Quinn is inspired.  Power Girl makes a fantastic straight-woman and her general diplomacy of punching things makes for an amusing running joke. I love the idea of setting a whole six issue miniseries full of rude jokes between the panels of an on-going series.  I've actually been tempted to check out Harley Quinn's solo series now, the writing team has impressed me that much here and based on volume one which I have read now, it's just as hilarious and anarchic (expect to see it on my blog later in the year).  Stephane Roux's art as I said in the intro, fits the tone perfectly, whether it is Harley's glee at finding another tool of destruction she can play with or Power Girl's eye rolling annoyance at yet another stupid situation that has developed, he really nails it every time.  Layouts are chaotic and the pacing hectic which is as exactly as it should be for a story like this.  It's bright, it's fun, and an absolute blast to read.  If you're even a fairweather Harley Quinn fan you should still read this. Great stuff.

Sunday, 22 May 2016

Captain Marvel Book 3: Alis Volat Propriis (#12-15)

"Let go" - Carol Danvers

Kelly Sue DeConnick rounds off her time with the redoubtable Captain with four issues that have the misfortune of having a wider Marvel crossover as part of them and the rushed nature of the concluding two-parter of her year representing the Avengers in space (co-authored by legendary UK writer Warren Ellis) makes me wonder if this was sprung on her at the last moment and was going to be spread across three issues.  Despite a somewhat abrupt send off for Tic, the alien from the planet Torfa who joined her in the first volume of the run, it's still fine stuff, the crossover stuff will be skimmed as I have no clue what it involved and the single issue showing her return to Earth and receiving some bad news is both sad and sweet at the same time ending her run on a high note.  A quick reintroduction then: Captain Marvel is Carol Danvers a super strong human with the power of flight and energy manipulation.  She's been doing a tour in space and picked up a companion the aforementioned Tic.  She also discovered that her bad tempered female cat Chewie is actually an alien called a Flerken, a creature able to create pockets to another dimension inside herself.  At the end of volume two a mutant called Lila who can travel the universe at the snap of a finger took her back to Earth where she met Santa and created an explosive display for a bedridden cancer stricken friend of hers.  The first two-parter then begins with Lila transporting Carol back to her highly intelligent ship and splitting leaving Carol alone.  Unfortunately it is immediately clear something is badly wrong.  Art for all four issues is by David Lopez, who has an appealing old skool style to his work.

Carol runs round the ship and finds neither Tic nor Chewie.  She tries to verbally interface with the ship's AI, Harrison but he is offline.  She pulls an emergency lever and this reboots him.  She asks him to report what happened, they were attacked by Haffensye pirates and Harrison shutdown to protect the systems when they were boarded.

"They have to have been after Chewie" says Carol.  She wonders why they didn't destroy the ship when they had her, instantly she realises this is a trap.  She calls for weapons and engines but both are offline.  She tries to leave via an airlock to take the fight outside, but the airlocks have all been sealed shut.  The Haff are going to burn the inside of the ship and salvage the shell and her death is a nice bonus for them (she tangled with them in book one).
Carol takes out the attacking ship with the force-shield.
The only thing Harrison can give her is the force-shield.  She activates the starboard side one and waits until the Haff ship gets close, then she has Harrison rotate the shield horizontally which cuts into the Haff ship and it blows up.  Given a breather, Carol starts all the self-repair systems up and checks the recordings of what happened.  Six hours later and she is repeatedly watching the footage of Tic and Chewie being taken.

Harrison: "With respect, Captain.  Statistical likelihood of analytical change after the fiftieth viewing is less than one percent."

Carol jokes that there is a chance then, but Harrison doesn't get it.  She says he doesn't appreciate her humour.  "Joke detection is enabled.  Perhaps I am not the problem he snarks".

Carol wonders why the Haff want Chewie, it is too much risk just to sell her on.  She decides to go to Haff space to find her and tells Harrison to aim for a shortcut, a subspace tunnel called the "Endless Envelope".  As they travel to it, she calls Gil and Jackie (see book one) on Torfa for help locating Tic.  They believe she is most likely on a disapora planet that is fully into the slave trade.  When Carol says she is travelling into the Endless Envelope they both yell "NOO!" Inside the envelope she loses comms and engines.
Into the Endless Envlope.
Harrison then tells her that the dimension they are in is a football field shoved into a matchbox and that it will actually take ten times longer now.  Then a huge space caterpillar appears with a couple of spaceships on it, which break off and come after Carol.

Carol: "Oh good.  Were going to try and outrun these guys powered solely by attitude thrusters through a giant subspace pocket."

Meanwhile, Tic is shackled to a post with some other prisoners on the Haff ship just outside the Haff end of the Endless Envelope.  The lead pirate holds up a muzzled Chewie and says she will be their secret weapon against a Mister Knife who has been encroaching on their territory.  Once she is of no use to them, they will destroy her.
Poor Chewie.
Back with Carol, she tells Harrison to work on getting her a weapon.  The force shield is almost depleted so she can't use it again.  Then one of the huge caterpillar things disappears, much to Carol's confusion.  Harrison postulates that the beings must be able to travel through the twisted space and time of the Envelope which "doesn't conform to established physics."

She steers the ship close to a mining rig on another creature and lets off some flares that temporarily fend off their pursuers.  Harrison says the mining rig is extracting an high energy fluid from the creature which he calls a "Warp Bear."  The fluid has "rare quantumn properties", it is "Warp Bear Juice".  The weapons are now online and Carol dispenses with their pursuers and flies up close to the rig.  Harrison says the culture must use "Warp Bear Juice to commit it's own warp events."

Carol: "You might have something with 'Warp Bear', but 'Warp Bear Juice' is never, ever going to be a thing people say".

Then we return to the Haff pirate holding Chewie.  He rants that they can hide an arsenal and armies inside her, take her into Mister Knife's territory and deploy from within, sort of like a feline Trojan Horse.  Tic is down below being put to work with the other slaves.  But she reassures them that "I have a friend on the way."

Carol tells Harrison to target the rig and get it off the Warp Bear.  Blasting it off releases a lot of Juice, and she flies the ship right through it, which accelerates the ship to an incredibly fast speed.
Warp Bear Juice.
Carol goes down to the engine room to divert some of the energy into a laser beam.  There is an ominous noise from the hull.  Harrison says the structural integrity has never been tested at such speed before.

Carol: "These last few months have tested both of us more than we anticipated, Harrison.  Maybe complacency can't survive in a vaccuum either."

Harrison makes a cheesy joke and Carol says she regrets engaging his humour protocols. The ship barrels out of the Envelope and bounces off the Haff ship there.

She then uses the highly precise laser to lance into the Haff ship, demanding they hand over Chewie and free Tic.  She is able to cut Tic's restraints and Tic immediately commendeers the ship, while the Haff flee. 

Carol links up to the ship back on Torfa, and Tic hands her Chewie and says with a crew made up of fellow prisoners, she'll go and battle the Haff slavers who are preying on the Torfan's disapora.  As Carol turns to go back to her ship, Tic says "I'm going to miss you".  And Carol smiles back at her safe in the knowledge Tic is going on to be a fine captain herself.
Tic's new ship.
The next issue is chapter eleven of a crossover event called "The Black Vortex".  The thing in question is a mirror that unlocks the true potential of those who look in it.  Thane, son of Thanos, looked in it and has joined up with Knife and the Slaughter Squad to cause havoc.  Captain Marvel swooped down into Knife's fortress and grabbed the mirror now everyone is after her.

She flies through space, taking the mirror to Spartax which has been encased in amber, so she can use it to save the planet.  She comes under heavy attack and ends up being knocked down onto an asteroid along with the mirror.
Carol looks in the Mirror.
She is tempted to look in it and sees herself at top potential, a being of almost pure energy.  "Is this what you want to be?" she thinks to herself.  But she resists, thinking that more power was not something she ever wanted.

The baddies have an disagreement about what to do with her, and a fight breaks out.  Carol uses this opportunity to take off with the mirror again to go save Spartax.  To be continued somewhere else.

Her tour of duty in space over, Carol arrives back on Earth.  She wonders if she needs to make herself up for the welcome home party.  Chewie is just her usual grumpy self and the ship lands at Avengers HQ.
Carol and Chewie back on Earth.
But when she disembarks, no one is there to greet her.  She goes inside and everyone is looking sad.  She realises this means Tracey, the sick woman from book two has died, about a week ago says one of her friends.  She left a letter and some things for Carol, who asks if someone else can read the letter.  We then see Tracy's ghost narrate things for us.  She leaves her a cane which she once whacked an Ultron with.

Tracy: "It's good for leaning on.  If you should find yourself in need of something to lean on from time to time."

Then the story flashes back to Tracey sulking at home with her leg in plaster, brooding over the death of her female lover Teddy.  Carol came to see her and gave her the cane.  She says Teddy wouldn't have wanted Tracey to isolate herself like this.

Tracey remembers back to when she first met Teddy.  She was a young woman and dropped her wallet.  Tracey bought it back to her and invited Tracey to dinner.  Teddy's ghost then appears saying Tracey had "fallen in love with me before the appetiser made it to the table."
Tracey and Teddy's ghosts.
However when they were older, Teddy died of heart failure.  This caused Tracy to lash out and kick the door, breaking her foot in the process.  Carol was there for her when Teddy died.

Tracey: "They let us have the room for a while.  To work it through, to say goodbye.  I would have stayed with her forever if you'd let me."

She and Carol took Teddy's ashes to the sea.  Traecy can't let go at first saying she can't imagine life without her.  But in the end she sprinkles the ashes.

With Tracey's urn Carol and friends go to the same place, but the urn turns out to be empty bar a note from Tracy:

Tracey: "Gotcha sucker.  Our last gift to you..."

Teddy: "... a day at the beach with your friends."

Teddy donated her body to medical science, as her and Teddy's ghosts depart, Tracy tells Carol "I love you kid.  Have fun.  Be happy and don't look back."  And Carol and her friends splash about in the water, laughing their heads off.  Which brings this run of Captain Marvel to an end.
The End...
What a fun series.  Moving effortlessly from high tech space opera to dealing with bereavement and loss, DeConnick really gets Carol, she is extremely relatable.  Hyper competant at the things she puts her mind to, able to plan effortlessly on the fly, she is everything that is good about the superhero archetype.  It's a shame that saving Chewie and Tic was over so quickly, it feels like there was room for a whole issue dealing with the Haff as a more fearsome threat than they ended up being.  Considering how important Tic has been across this run as a secondary protagonist, having one page chronicling her departure feels more abrupt than it possibly was meant to.  The art as I said in the intro is superb, especially when it comes to facial expressions, alhough the kersplosions look great as well.  This ends this run of Captain Marvel, with Tracey's farewell coming across as DeConnick's farewell and well wishes for the character she's helped redefine.  It has restarted at issue one again with a new creative team, Marvel seems to be really pushing the "seasonal" approach to their properties.  Lots more number ones for collectors if I am being cynical about it.  But for now lets hail Marvel's best female superhero and the subject of Marvel studio's first (now delayed) female superhero led film. 

Thursday, 19 May 2016

Batwoman Book 2: To Drown The World (#6-11)

"God I hate that woman" - Kate Kane

If there ever was proof that I was mainly reading Batwoman for the art it's how much I found my interest dropping and my attention wandering when during this arc within an arc J. H Williams III steps away from art duties and just writes it with his co-writer W. Haden Blackman.  And I guess Greg Rucka's run, collected as Batwoman: Elegy, set such a high standard for the character but I find the writing here muddled and somewhat dull.  I'm being unfair on Amy Reeder and Trevor McCarthy who are arting this arc, because they're pretty good by any normal measure, but how does anyone measure up to one of the finest sequential artists currently in the business?  And their main problem is that they try hard to duplicate the complex layouts JHW3 executes so effortlessly but whereas he knows how to draw your eye round the pages in the correct order, several times I found myself unsure of what order to read the panels in.  Not good.  Also the whole six issue arc is told in "anarchronic" order, ie: it's all over the place, flashing backwards and forwards in an attempt to put some life into the story but instead makes it frustrating and confusing in equal measure.  This is like having a three course meal, but it's been cut into tiny portions and you're fed your starter and dessert in bits between your morsels of your main. It probably would be a pretty bland meal eaten in the normal order but now it's indigestable.  Anyway,  the story arc continues the larger arc of Batwoman Kate Kane and her girlfriend Detective Maggie Sawyer looking for missing children who have been kidnapped by an organisation called Medusa.  Batwoman is being blackmailed into working with the D.E.O - The Department of Extranormal Operations and her handler is a very angry woman called Cameron Chase. Her cousin Bette Kane who is also a costumed hero called Flamebird was gutted by a man with a talking scythe for a hand in the previous book and now lies in a coma on life support.  Now we're all caught up, lets begin.

Now: Batwoman is fighting the hook-handed man, he attacks and knocks the wind out of her as the leader of Medusa, Falchion, looks on.  One Month Ago: Kate's father Jacob is visiting Bette in hospital because she is his niece.  She is still comatose.  The nurse tells him she might respond to his voice, so although dubious it will help he starts reading "You Only Live Twice" to her.
Batwoman vs. Mr. Hookhand.
One Week Ago: Maggie is being yelled at by the mother of two of the missing children.  She says she doesn't think her detectives are doing enough because they aren't working 24/7 on it.  As she departs she says to Maggie:

Ms. Lopez: "With respect, detective Sawyer.  I don't think a woman like you has any idea what it's like to have a child.. then have that child taken away."

Once she is gone, Maggie takes a photo out of her desk and regards it sadly.  Four Months Ago:  A man called Maro is drowning Maria's (see book one) children.  This will cause Maria to become The Weeping Woman, "with the deaths of Maria's childen, Maria's story has begun". Falchion is dubious as to why they bringing folk tales to life.  But Maro says that with La Larona "Gothan will start believing in monsters again".
Maro drowns Maria's kids.
Three Weeks Ago: Maggie is round at Kates looking for where her badge fell after a vigourous bout of love making (which we aren't shown dammit!).  Maggie notes a bruise on Kate's shoulder, Kate says she has taken up boxing again because her father taught her to keep in shape.  Maggie says that's the first time she's bought up her father, but Kate says she is not going to talk about the past, she kisses Maggie saying "this is the only place I really want to be".

Two weeks ago: Batwoman is out with Chase, they have taken down a man but Chase says he is not a full member of Medusa and he won't know anything.  Someone opens fire on them and Batwoman blocks the bullets with her body, protecting Chase.  Chase asks if she likes the new outfit.  "I'm a damn superwoman" says Batwoman.  It's nanotube armour invented "yesterday", one of the perks of working for the D.E.o.

Now: Batwoman gets up and manages to get the hook-handed man in a chokehold.  She gets a hold of where the hook joins his body and says, "I'm going to make you cry for your mother". She keeps him in the chokehold and yells at him for hurting Bette, he responds, "So warm... can still feel her insides on me".  Batwoman hurls him aside in disgust then rips the hook off his arm. The man cries "Aaaauagh my hook!"  And the hook cries "My body! My Body!".  Somewhat taken aback Batwoman turns and sees Falchion summon "all of my monsters".
Batwoman rips off his hook.
Three Weeks ago:  Jacob is visiting Better again.  He tells her about Kate and her twin Beth (see "Elegy").  How different they were growing up.  He caresses Bette's cheek and asks if she can hear him.  Two Weeks ago: Maggie and Kate are having a meal in a fancy restaurant when Kate spots the were-man Abbott lurking outside and goes to confront him. 

He tells her the Religion of Crime has nearly been wiped out by Medusa and that she'll need his help fighting Falchion their leader.  But Kate tells him to get lost and tell "your freaky werebeast cult to stay the hell away from me". When Maggie joins her Kate says it was just a piece of her past trying to crawl out of the gutter.
Maggie and Kate's meal interrupted.
Two Months Ago: Maro is bringing the "Bloody Mary" urban legend to life.  He calls her via the incantation into the mirror, then binds her by knowing her true name and offers her three captured teenage girls as a sacrifice to her.

One Week Ago:  A much mutated Killer Croc, now with the head of a crocodile is rampaging around killing off The Religion of Crime, the police are there as well although they are not sure what is going on.  A woman called Sune, working for Medusa lets some members of the Religion of Crime go, saying she'll tell Falchion they're all dead and Abbott has gone to ground.  Then Maggie surprises her, arrests her and tells her she is going to tell them everything she knows about Medusa.
Even more mutated Killer Croc facing down GCPD.
One Week Ago: Chase is showing Batwoman some new gadgets.  Which include a dart that is self propelled, voice activated and has a rudimentary A.I.  Batwoman is dubious about using it, but Chase threatens her father with prison if she doesn't play along.  Batwoman is also given a hypodermic full of tranquilizer and laced with Scarecrow fear gas.  Batwoman is to go and grab Sune, who they have just been notified of the arrest of, and bring her to the D.E.O.  Oh and handling the transport of Sune is Maggie.

Now:  Batwoman is facing down La Larona and Bloody Mary.  Falchion says Gotham has provided him with such monsters.  Batwoman replies "This is getting ridiculous.  Falchion!  Let's get on with it!"  Facing Killer Croc, Bloody Mary and an apologetic La Larona (Maria was exorcised at the end of Book 1, doesn't seem to have taken) she unleashes the flying dart at them.  It shocks the Croc, slashes Bloody Mary's throat and sets Maria on fire.  But Falchion holds a sword to the throat of one of the kidnapped children and so Batwoman shuts the dart down.
Batwoman ordered to grab Sune.
One Month Ago: Maro slices the hand off a man called Rush who appears to be a serial killer.  He attaches the talking hook - The Ashoth - to the stump and transforms him into another of his monsters.

One Week Ago: Chase is showing Kate photos she has of Maggie looking like she is thinking of leaving Kate, and Chase wants them to stay together at least until the Sune transfer happens.  Kate says they are not breaking up and is outraged when Chase tells her to mine Maggie for information on the Medusa case.

Chase: "Oh don't pretend you haven't already crossed that line.  Frankly I don't know whether she is dating Kate Kane or Batwoman.  Maybe you don't know either."

Chase leaves and Kate reluctantly phones Maggie to get together that night...

Six Nights Ago: Maggie is handling the transfer of Sune to a safehouse via boat.  Batwoman leaps aboard and Maggie sanctions lethal force against her, but the bullets bounce off. Batwoman knocks them all out and heads to where Sune is, armed with the fear tranquiliser in case Sune proves difficult.  But then Maggie grabs her from behind and without thinking Batwoman jabs her with the drug and is horrified when she realises what she has done.
Two Weeks Ago: Jacob is sitting by Bette's bedside.  He felt her move and is encouraging her to do it again.  The doctor says it was probably an involuntary responds, but says keeping talking to her may help.

Six Nights Ago: Chase fights her way across the docks to where Batwoman and Sune are.  Batwoman is furious that she was put in the position of harming Maggie and her people and won't do it again.  Sune asks if the drug was meant for her, Chase says yes and that they have plenty more if she doesn't cooperate.  Sune says she didn't hear the magic word - "Immunity".  Chase says they can figure something out as they escape via helicopter.

Now: Falchion tells Batwoman she will never find out why he took the children.  They begins to fight, Falchion slashes Batwoman saying no armour can protect against a sword forged by "The Mother".  Things look bad for Batwoman, then suddenly a volley of arrows fire by Sune hit Falchion in the head and chest. "The Mother crafted arrows, too" says Sune.
This only makes Falchion angrier as he attacks her shouting "betrayer" and "traitor". He says she "can't hide your secrets from my God's eye" as he gets ahold of her.  She uses a "Blackout Bomb" and plunges the area into darkness, escaping his grip.  She gives Batwoman some goggles so she can see.  Sune wants to kill Falchion, but Batwoman says she can't let her murder him, so Sune says she let him live, "for now".

One Week Ago: Jacob is in Bette's room as her hearts stops.  As the nurses usher him out he yells to her that he is here for her and not to go.  He can only numbly watch as the doctors work on reviving her.  Two Weeks Ago:  Maro is on the beach and summons Maria's spirit, he tells her if she doesn't come back to Medusa her children's ghosts will be damned and "wander the spirit world alone forever".  So Maria becomes La Larona again.
Jacob watching over Bette.
Three Nights Ago: Maggie is attending a party on Falchion's yacht.  She sees Kate and Sune together, and when Kate returns to her she asks who Sune was.  Kate says she is just "some entitled musician" who chatted her up in the queue for the toilet.  Then Maggie gets a call saying there has been another kidnapping and she has to leave. She and Kate kiss and Maggie makes her promise not to "take a ride from an entitled musician".

Four Days Ago: Sune has told them Medusa's headquarters are in the Gotham harbour.  A deep underground lair, cloaked with protective spells.  Chase wants to send in combat subs, but Sune says that would doom the children.  When she prevaricates about knowing Falchion has a secret entrance, Chase dangles her out of the helicopter.  Sune says the information will be on Falchion's yacht and handily Kate has been invited to a gala aboard it the next evening.  Chase tells Batwoman to attend with Maggie and Sune will be there as well, which means Sune will know Batwoman's identity.  Batwoman agrees if it means the children can be saved.

Three Nights Ago: Sune and Kate are at the gala and have snuck off to look through Falchion's things.  They find an ornate box and between them manage to get it open and find what appears to be a map.

Now: Falchion wounds Sune and knocks her to the ground.  Before he can kill her, Batwoman jumps on him and jams one of the arrows into his eye, which then burns off half of his face.  Batwoman goes over to check on Sune who is gratified Batwoman saved her life and in return, kisses her. There is a long moment, then Batwoman recoils, asking Sune what the hell she thinks she is doing. "I craved a little taste of you" Sune says rather creeepily.  Then Sune grabs Falchion's sword and impales him with it.
Eighteen Hours Ago: Maggie is at a crime scene with Commissioner Gordon.  They have found the body of a girl.  Gordon says she reminds him of Barbara at that age.  He tells Maggie to imagine the girl is hers and catch the killer.  Maggie walks off and phones someone she calls "Pixie" saying she just needed to hear her voice.

Thirty Five Hours Ago: Bette is still alive but comatose.  Jacob tells her the story about how he euthanised a terminally pet cat of theirs with a gun (the bullet is one he has on a necklace round his neck), both the girls saw him.  Beth cried for two days, Kate grabbed a shovel and helped him bury it.  He finally admits that he loved Beth more than Kate and has a bit of a breakdown.

Two Hours Ago: Chase with some D.E.O operatives, Batwoman and Sune are fighting Killer Croc.  He gets away, but Batwoman and Sune know where the secret passageway is and follow while Chase stays with an injured operative.

Twenty Five Hours Ago: Batwoman appears at the window of Bette's hospital room and observes her father sleeping next to her.  One Week Ago: Maro feeds Killer Croc virgins blood to transform him into a more crocodile like creature.  He says he is the latest in a long lineage of crocodile beings and people's belief in them helps Croc change.
Killer Croc is further transformed.
Now: Batwoman wrestles the sword off Sune.  Sune says only Falchion's sword can kill Falchion.  Batwoman says she won't let her murder him.  Sune then says maybe it is enough that Falchion is "well past dead" and now she can take her rightful place as the head of Medusa.  And her flesh starts to melt and reforms into Maro her "brother". 

Maro: "I am Maro Ito, once Falchion's warlock, now his successor.  And I would be honoured if you'd kneel before me."

Batwoman is confused.  "Who are you?" she demands.  Maro replies that he is the creator of monsters and slayer of demigods, so in fact "I am a God."  He says he will deliver the children to The Mother and "their blood will drown the world". Batwoman says he is just a shapeshifter.  Maro disagrees, he is a puppetmaster who manipulated Batwoman and the D.E.O into helping him kill Falchion.  They will take the blame for his death.  Batwoman says she's going to kick his ass, so Maro orders Maria to flood her lungs.
Sune was Maro all along!
Now: Jacob is standing by Bette's bedside, he says her parents are talking about organ donation.  He places a hero mask over her face and says:

Jacob: "Open your eyes and I will teach you everything Kate couldn't".

Bette does open her eyes and says weakly can she keep the mask?  "Always" says a relieved Jacob.

Fiften Minutes From Now: Maggie has been called to suspicious goings on at the harbour.  She sees water fountaining up and on the dockside is a coughing Chase who tells her Batwoman "screwed us all".

Now: The children are bathed in light.  Chase arrives on the scene and points a gun at Maro, but for some reason Batwoman electrocutes her with her gloves and Chase's shot just wings Maro.  Killer Croc joins the children in the light, and Maro transforms into a white wolf and jumps in also and they are all teleported away.
What did you THINK would happen Kate?!
Batwoman drags chase outide before Maria can drown them both and leaves her on the dock.  She observes Chase and Maggie from afar as Chase tells Maggie that Batwoman "let that monster take the kids", but Batwoman thinks to herself that she'll find the children no matter what.

The Next Day: Kate and Maggie are sitting together discussing their pasts.  Kate tells her everything bar being Batwoman.  Maggie tells her she has a daughter who she lost custody of to the father and lives in Star City with him and her step-mother.  She says when she thinks of the missing kids it's like losing her all over again.  This upsets Kate and Maggie hugs and comforts her.

The book comes to an end with Wolf Maro telling The Mother that Batwoman and her allies killed Falchion.  The Mother doesn't seem too upset.  The children are there as well.  The Mother says Batwoman "will be devoured by the Mother of all monsters."
Kate and Maggie have a moment.
And the Medusa arc is dragged on for yet another arc, the storyline being clumsily elongated by Batwoman's inexplicable decision to allow Maro to get away with the children. Probably the best parts of the book are Jacob's talks to Beth, it enriches his character and rounds him out nicely.  Otherwise the structure of the arc, jumping forwards and backwards doesn't really flow like a good story should.  And bloody hell, I know I am a fan of decompressed comics, but this storyline isn't strong enough to run as long as it has done, because we've got the team up with Wonder Woman in the next volume still to go before Medusa is finally put to rest.  Luckily JH Williams III is back on art duties for that volume so at least I can squee about how good it looks.  As I said in the intro, Reeder and McCarthy are actually pretty good, but might have benefitted more from a more traditional panel layout rather than trying to ape JHW3.  I did get some enjoyment from the book, some nice conversations take place, I actually wish there had been more dialogue and less action because that was where the writers strength seems to lie. Batwoman is still an appealing character, and does get some badass moments, I just keep coming back to the structure of the book, it really doesn't work for me.  These kinds of stories can work, but only when the underlying structure is rock solid, and with only five issues prior to this, the writers simply haven't nailed things down heavily enough to then get experimental with.  Ah well, can't all be winners eh?

Monday, 16 May 2016

The Movement Book 1: Class Warfare (#1-6)

"Your whole world is over" - Virtue

Superhero comics need more diversity and I think the lack of it is slowly killing the genre as older more set in their ways readers are not being replaced fast enough by newer, younger fans.  There I said it.  It's ridiculous still that in 2016 we still have so many pale, male and stale heroes running about the DCU and Marvelverse.  Strides have been taken towards getting more black and female heroes out there, but it isn't enough. And you can count the number of homo/bisexual heroes allowed to headline a book on the fingers of one hand that is missing nearly all its fingers (where are you now, Batwoman? you will be missed Midnighter. Stay swinging both ways John).  Fortunately there are creators like Gail Simone out there who have made exceptional amounts of effort to include minority characters in her stories.  The Movement was a New 52 series that sadly only ran for twelve issues before cancellation (Deeee Ceeee!! *shakes fist*), but which gave us a team of that included not only gay and lesbian members but also a disabled one and even the return of a Bengali female hero she created for Secret Six who is officially asexual, a sexual preference that is usually treated with pity and "oh you'll grow out of it when you fall in love" type crap. Yes, The Movement is basically the most "Gail Simone" comic there has ever been, but I applaud her for it.  She also shows an interest in dealing with issues raised by the Occupy movement as well as being unafraid to show a city where the police are corrupt and bully the underclass relentlessly hence the formation of "The Movement" to stick up for the less fortunate of Coral City where they are based.  Simone is aided in this by Freddie Williams II's expressively gritty, thick lined artwork that gives the whole thing a more down-and-dirty look than your more usual superhero comic.

I'll introduce the characters before we get started, they are Virtue, who can ride peoples emotions and use the power she takes offensively and acts as the defacto leader of the group; Tremor who can cause localised earthquakes; Mouse who can speak to and control rats; Katharsis (who was introduced in Simone's Batgirl run) who doesn't have powers but can fly using home made wings and has superior hand-to-hand combat skills; Vengeance Moth who can form a glowing green moth shape around her and use it as a shield and fly when doing so, and they are joined in the first issue by Burden whose powers manifest as a demonic style possession.  They range from being in their late teens to early twenties which helps explain some of their more ill thought out plans.
Officer Whitt sexually harasses a minor.
It is night time in Coral City.  Two cops, a brutish older one called Whitt and a younger one called Pena are busting a couple for drug dealing.  The man insists he is not a dealer. Pena wants to let them go with a warning, Whitt says Ok but they keep the drugs and "your girlfriend gives us a little peak." 

Before he can ogle her boobs, he hears his words being played back, suddenly they are surrounded by masked figures with smartphones replaying his words over and over.  Back at the precinct the Captain is shown video footage of the incident being played on the news, provided by the hacker group "Channel M".  Furious he tries to fire the officers, Whitt laughs the incident off saying the girl looked older than sixteen.  Officer Yee says the captain can't fire them as the force is now run directly by the city council and he'll have to go through them.  Then he is told "The Cornea Killer" has struck again.

We cut to a young man, Burden standing outside a church.  He looks lost and lonely so the pastor invites him inside even though Burden says bad things happen to him in churches.  The captain is at the scene of the Cornea Killer's latest victim and notes a puddle of water under the dead body, same as the other victims.  He tries to send Whitt and Pena away from the scene, another officer called Yee says they are "good cops."
Burden's power manifests.
Inside the church Burden suddenly turns demonic, his head spins round 180 degrees much to the alarm of the pastor who runs away.  The police are informed and they think it might be the Cornea Killer.  The captain leads the cops to go check it out.  We are then introduced to the winged Katharsis and Mouse with his beloved rats who are lurking nearby checking out what is going on.

Inside the church, Burden is levitating and tells the captain "hell says hi by the way."  Mouse then rides in on a wave of rats and introduces himself as the Prince of them.  Burden turns normal again and begs the pastor for help.  Outside, Tremor uses her earthquake powers to disable the cop cars.  The captain, now outside the church, calls for reinforcements, then Virtue comes up behind him saying "I see you captain, and you are trespassing".
Mouse, the Prince of Rats.
Katharsis confronts Whitt and baits him into a fist fight which she wins, knocking him out. Virtue tells the captain she is part of "The Movement", she uses his emotions to ride to his home.  When she returns she tells him his wife is having an affair with officer Yee. Then she informs him:

Virtue: "You're in the tweens.  From tenth street to twentieth street, that's ours now.  No one wants you here."

The captain says there is a killer in the church.  Virtue says there isn't, there is just a screwed up kid who has been told he was possessed and has the superhuman powers to make it happen, "we'll look after him".

They will find the killer themselves, then she tells him to "get the hell out."  The captain goes into the church now Burden is gone with the Movement but the pastor and his flock are now all wearing masks and tell him he is no longer welcome.
Mouse, Tremor, Virtue, Katharsis, Burden
The Movement also capture Whitt and Pena in all the chaos and are leading them cuffed and blindfolded to their headquarters.  Whitt makes various threats that Virtue brushes off.  She takes off their blindfolds and reveals them to be in an old garment factory that was once a sweatshop where many women and children died due to negligent health and safety.

They have quite a few normal people hanging around there as well, one of them is the girl Whitt tried to sexually assault and she slaps him hard.  Virtue puts them in a cell, Pena says they are sorry for what happened but Whitt tells him to shut up.  Whitt says putting them in prison makes them no better than the factory owners who locked the workers in and caused their deaths.

Tremor says he has a good point.  Virtue agrees, "that kinda stung actually".  Then Vengeance Moth appears and says Mouse is losing it and freaking some of the kids out.  Virtue leaves her guarding the prisoners, she offers them a fruit snack.  Mouse is grieving the loss of his favourite rat "Mr Trouncer."  Virtue comforts him and gets him to calm down.
Nooo, not Mr. Trouncer!
Elsewhere, the Captain is brooding about being thrown out of the Tweens.  Then he is told Whitt and Pena are missing.  The captain says he witnessed a man on a tidal wave of rats, the cop cars were swallowed by an earthquake and he saw a boy turn into a biblical demon.  They will return, but they are bringing more firepower.

The Movement have a meeting in the childrens playroom.  Virtue asks the others what she thinks they should do with the prisoners.  Tremor says they should let them go, "this whole plan is ridiculous".  Angrily, Katharsis says they should mess them up.  Virtue says no, that's evil, which is what they are trying to fight.  Katharsis also asks why Burden is there with them, Virtue says they need more muscle.

Burden: "You are speaking of me as if I had superpowers.  I don't. I'm possessed by a dark lord of hell.  My soul is foreit."

Tremor returns to the subject of the prisoners. She says she thought the whole point was to show them confessing their misdeeds, "if we start torturing prisoners, I'm out".

Katharsis accuses her of being a spy, someone has been leaking Channel M secrets and she believes Tremor is the source.  Katharsis says the Cornea Killer is out there taking eyeballs from homeless people and she is going to investigate and she departs saying she knows who to ask about all this.  The others decide it's time to go and see "the Witch".
Katharsis questions James Cannon.
Katharsis arrives at the home of James Cannon.  The man who runs Coral City.  He insists he is just a developer, but Katharsis says he tells he city council what to do.  At the homebase of the Witch, the Movement are attacked by her loyal followers, at the same time Cannon sets a load of armoured goons on Katharsis.  After fending off their attackers, the Witch appears to take them on, she is better known as "Rainmaker" (a hero from Gen 13, a comic from the Wildstorm universe).

Katharsis puts up a good fight against the goons, but is overwhelmed.  Cannon says to take her to the precinct, he is going to interrogate her himself and when he is done she'll beg to tell him where her friends are.  The others are not doing very well battling Rainmaker.

Elsewhere a homeless man is begging out on the streets when a small raincloud appears above his head.  Realising this is the calling card of the Cornea Killer he tries to run but is cornered.  He begs the Killer not to harm his dog, "I'm not a monster" replies the Killer.

At Movement headquarters, Vengeance Moth brings the cops some burgers.  Whitt deduces that because the burgers are still warm they must be close to a burger joint.  Vengeance Moth says she'll have to be careful round him.  Whitt says that imprisoning them for a first offence is something the police wouldn't do, so are the police "more merciful" than they are?  Vengeance Moth says she isn't the person they should be talking to about all this, they should talk to the person who set it all up, Virtue.
Introducing Rainmaker.
Rainmaker keeps up her attack, but Mouse manages to grab one of her followers and Virtue says he'll bite his neck if Rainmaker doesn't stop.  She does so and Virtue is finally able to tell her they don't work for "the man."  She tells Rainmaker that the Cornea Killer is killing people and leaving evidence making it look like she did it.  Rainmaker says they need to talk to James Cannon about all this.

Rainmaker: "He looks at Coral City like it's a failing business and he smells blood in the water."

He wants a perfect city, with everyone in their neat little boxes.  He doesn't hate them, they are just "in the way".  Virtue asks her to join them, but Rainmaker refuses saying she just wants to be left alone.  But before she departs she gives Virtue her number and tells her to call her sometime.

Then they get the news that the cops have Katharsis. She is shackled to a chair in the police station and is being brutalised by Cannon.   Virtue appears in the captains office and she apologises for telling him about his wife cheating on him.  She proposes an exchange of prisoners, he explains she doesn't get to come in here and make demands.  Virtue says she tried to be nice, then she shows him a large crowd of protestors that have gathered outside.

Virtue:  "I tried to be nice.  Now we tear your damn 'house' down to the ground."

Virtue says she can read his emotions, he is angry but there is fear there as well.  He says her people will never win and will get hurt trying.  Virtue just wants her "soldier" back.  The captain asks her who made her this way "who are you?" Virtue responds soon it'll be "easier to ask who we aren't."
Virtue and captain Meers.
And the protestors start rioting, overturning cops cars and beating down the precinct door. Time for some flashbacks, Mouse was born into a life of wealth and priviledge.  But he didn't fit in and left home, feeling he was "born wrong.  Wrong species" and down in the sewers with the street kids he found he could communicate with rats.

Mouse: "Being poor doesn't make someone bad.  I just want people to know that."

The captain orders everyone into riot gear to quell the mob now in the station.  Virtue meanwhile has flown off.  Down in the interrogation cell, one of the officers is having second thoughts about what they are doing to Katharsis.

She has a flashback, she was an immigrant to the US as a child from Laos.  She joined the police force, but one day, frustrated by a creep who murdered an immigrant girl like her and got off, she hunted him down and showed him the meaning of fear.  And so she ended up on the run.
Katharsis being "interrogated".
Cannon is informed the station is under attack and as he leaves, heavily implies they should kill Katharsis to cover up what they did to her.  Amongst the chaos, Tremor says to herself that this isn't right.  She remembers her childhood, and how her family came to the US from Bengal after she got the label "witch" for showing off her powers.  One day she got in a fatal car crash in which she was the only survivor.  She couldn't face her family and left home.  Lost, Amanda Waller, the DCU black ops specialist found her and asked her to infiltrate the underground that wants "to overthrow our country".  So she became a spy.

Virtue finds her and says she senses Katharsis is going to be killed, also a tank and choppers are on their way.  The rioters corner a cop and start crushing him, Burden comes to his rescue and has a flashback too.  His deeply religious father scourged him daily to try and beat the devil out of him.  But it didn't work, so Burden left home to protect his loved ones.

Tremor faces the tank and disables it saying The Movement are her friends, "I have much to atone for.  And please tell Waller I quit".  Rainmaker also appears and takes out the choppers for them.  The captain makes his way down to the sub-basement where Katharsis was being held, but Mouse, Burden and Virtue have got there first.  He allows them to leave, and Virtue tells him to clean his house, "it's positively filthy".
The Movement take care of their own.
We then see a TV newsreader reporting on the riot and it informs us that in at least six cities, new branches of The Movement are being formed.

Newsreader: "Some citizens, discontented with what they see as an abusive, uncaring authority structure, have called these people 'heroes'.  For all our sakes, let us pray that they are right".

Next day there us a meeting of the city council.  Cannon says he is bringing in some additional firepower.  The council is considering abandoning the city, but he shows them news reports of The Movement in other cities saying where would they go?

The captain meets with Virtue in a diner, he tells them he knows they are planning to put the two cops on trial.  Virtue realises they have a leak.  He tells them superhuman help has been summoned to deal with them.  He offers her a civilian board to deal with police malfeasance, they go back to patrolling the tweens and civilians can ride along with police at their own risk.  Virtue thanks him but says they can't stop it now, it's already in motion.
Whitt and Pena on "trial".
We cut to Whitt and Pena on "trial" in Movement headquarters.  They are charged with sexual harassment of a minor.  Pena pleads guilty immediately much to Whitt's disgust.  This isn't enough for the girl Whitt tried to grope.  Tremor puts the case for the defence noting both men have multiple citations for bravery.  Whitt says he doesn't have to explain himself, but Pena admits they messed up.  The trial is being viewed online via live streaming, as Pena says he puts his life on the time every day only to be called "pig" by the kids he is trying to help.

Whitt keeps raging that he has nothing to say, and "you're fooling yourself if you think this changes anything."  Meanwhile Mouse is outside composing a love letter to Tremor.  A sex worker nearby is confronted by the Cornea Killer and one of Mouse's rats goes and tells him, so Mouse goes to investigate.  He rides in on his wave of rats and starts fighting the Cornea Killer as the sex worker makes her getaway.

Vengeance Moth escorts the cops back to their cell while the "court" deliberates.  Whitt grabs her chair and tips her out of it.  Pena is immediately apologetic, but angrily she floats upwards surrounded by a moth shaped energy field.  Katharsis tackles Whitt saying he has reached a new low attacking a woman in a wheelchair.
Vengeance Moth gets mad, Mouse comes to the rescue.
Tremor disables Katharsis briefly and creates a tunnel for the cops to escape down having had enough of all this shit.  Katharsis calls her a traitor to The Movement and Tremor says maybe she doesn't want to be in it anymore if this is how they carry on.

Mouse and the Cornea Killer fight to a standstill, then suddenly a gang of superhumans appear.  The Cornea Killer introduces them:

Cornea Killer: "Coral City's new police force, the Graveyard Shift.  Consider yourself an all your little friends evicted."

Katharsis and Tremor start brawling as they do so the people viewing the live stream start tweeting about it.  Vengeance Moth evacuates the building as people are scared of what Tremor's powers could do.  Then Virtue appears and breaks them up.  She reads Tremor's emotions and says she is scared, scared for Katharsis's soul if she becomes a murderer.
Tremor and Katharsis work out their differences.
Sadly, Tremor says they were supposed to help people, but look at Burden cowering in a corner, "he's in pain all the time.  What have we done to help him?"  The Cornea Killer is still out there, they used Burden as a weapon and they were just worried about a show trial for two dirty cops.  Vengeance Moth wonders if they can actually help Burden.  Virtue thinks they can.  She then sends Tremor and Katharsis off to the diner to eat ice cream and not leave until they have shaken hands.

In the tunnels, Whitt makes plans to return and "bust a few heads".  Pena says he just wants to forget this place.  Who really scares him is the guy with the rats, who is currently battling Graveyard Shift.  He puts up a valiant struggle but the sheer numbers tell against him.
Mouse vs. The Graveyard Shift.
Virtue ties Burden to a bed and takes Vengeance Moth aside to say they are going to perform a placebo exorcism using her emotion powers.  Tremor and Virtue go to the diner and order sundaes.  Katharsis says she isn't going to apologise, Tremor says "you are a soldier not an executioner".  They tuck into their ice cream.

Burden has transformed into his demonic self.  She pretends she has some holy water she is going to pour on him and his emotions show extreme fear.  She pulls that fear out of him and tells Burden he is free now.  He is delighted, saying "Bless you. Bless you" in gratitude.

Cannon is outside walking home to his penthouse when a single rain cloud appears above him. Then the Cornea Killer appears and says "Hi dad.  You won't believe the night I've had."  Tremor and Katharsis are much more friendly to each other now and grudgingly Katharsis says she'll rein herself in a bit more.  The call a truce and shake hands.  They leave the diner only to be confronted by Mouse, badly beated and tied up, strung from a lampost with the sign "I've been a bad rodent" hanging off him.  End volume one.
Poor Mouse!
I really enjoyed this.  Speaking as a member of the Class War Federation in my misspent youth and a currently paid up member of the lefty, commie, pinko feminist-homosexualist axis some of this read like Anarchy 101 to me, but I appreciate Simone is writing for a younger, more conservative audience than me.  I like a group that is full of dysfunctional people but still stays together like a family, Secret Six was the same, also written by Simone.  The idea of having real street level heroes representing the underclass is a pretty radical one, and having it made up of immigrants and having a majority female membership only makes it more appealing to me.  Suggesting the police aren't paragons of moral authority is also quite brave in this day and age too.  The art is excellent, Williams II excels at facial representation and puts in detail where it matters, just check out his rendering of Mouse's rat friends. Simone gives us a collection of divergent personalities and allows the conflicts to work themselves through in a way that feels natural.  Like I said in the intro, they are all pretty young, who didn't make questionable decisions at that age?  Coral City is just lucky the two most powerful members are the level headed ones.  Unfortunately there is only one more volume, six issues left to go as Tumblr popularity didn't factor into sales success.  I'll be covering volume two in a couple of months time.  See you then.