There are moments in comic book fandom that are golden; finding that long-lost issue to fill a complete run, running into like-minded fans that become dear friends, and then there is the sweet satisfaction of discovering a new title that becomes an instant favorite. Jupiter’s Legacy is that series for me, and like any good comic fan I want to share my love with my fellow fans.
There are a number of components to Mark Millar’s masterwork that are all happening at once. There is the surface plot of heroes vs. villains, then there is the relationship between those characters unfolding, there is the dynamic of a family trying to reconnect in the middle of a crisis, there is also geo-political underpinnings, and finally Millar’s commentary on society in general.
All of that is floating on the surface, but if you dig deeper there is so much more to this simple superhero story. It’s a study of a father/son relationship that has gone astray, it’s about government control of the masses, it’s about overcoming a lifetime of bad choices, it’s about salvation, greed, lust, and ultimately control.
Millar does what he does best; tell a large-scale, global story, full of supped up characters and then adds just enough heart to make the story really matter. Teaming once again with Frank Quietly this comic can draw obvious comparison to the pairs work on The Authority; a gritty, mature, reality based look at super hero culture.
Volume two picks up a short time after the final pages of volume one and if you haven’t taken the opportunity to read volume one I strongly suggest picking that trade up as well.
Jupiter’s Legacy is about Hutch and his family assembling a group of super villains and taking the fight to the “good” guys. Now the very concepts of good and evil are somewhat subjective in this story. Each side can build an argument as to why their actions are justified and that’s part of what makes this such a compelling tale… on the other hand the same could be said that every character in this comic is heavily flawed and no one is right. It’s the struggle between the players involved that provides such delicious drama.
I could easily write a thousand words on the plot of this trade. Dissecting the ins and outs would be a pleasure, but here are the bare bones in a small summary; trust me this story has to be read to be truly enjoyed… savored for the visual and narrative nuisances.
In the first trade two brothers (Walter and Sheldon) traveled to a mysterious island where an alien race gave them and those that traveled with them super powers. Cut to modern-day where Walter, the more selfish of the two brothers, kills his sibling to take control of the country and install his vision of the future. In his power grab he killed not only his brother Sheldon, but his brother’s wife. The dead man’s two children become pawns in Walter’s (the evil brother) plot. Brandon joins his uncle, believing that killing his own father is the only way he will ever step out of the old man’s shadow.
Then there is Chloe.
Chloe is a Hollywood debutante, who is more prone to throw a party than a punch. During an overdose she discovers that she is pregnant and the father of her unborn child is Hutch. Hutch is the son of the world’s most famous villain. So these two star-crossed lovers must save each other when the poo hits the fan blades; as Walter makes his move. The pair give birth to a son, Jason, who has incredible powers of his own even though he is just a kid. Hutch and his family go into hiding hoping to live the rest of their lives in obscurity. But Jason’s need to help others and use his powers gets the attention of Uncle Walter and the family has to go on the run.
This is where our tale in the second volume begins.
Hutch and his family are the kind of group that I wish a modern-day Fantastic Four could be. (If Marvel ever gets off their collective asses and brings back the FF) The familiar bond is strong, their struggle to try to hide from Uncle Walter and Chloe’s dick of a brother Brandon, has made them closer. They fully support each other, even when Hutch concocts the hair-brain scheme to round-up all of his old villain buddies to go toe to toe with Uncle Walter and the army of heroes he commands.
What drives this series forward is the art. Frank Quitley’s unique style is on display in this comic for all to enjoy. Millar knows that it’s best to let Quitely have the room to draw his breathtaking widescreen panels. The plot and the action are the perfect blend that allows the reader to fully immerse themselves in the moment. At no point does neither the author nor the artist break the illusion of perfection that they create on the page for the reader to enjoy.
The gripes I might have against this comic are miniscule when held in comparison with the title’s achievements. Does Quitely’s faces and figures tend to blur together and lack uniqueness? Sure, but when taken in with the rest of this book, you can easily understand how Quitely has become one of te most sought after artists in the business. Does Millar seem to write all of his characters in the vein of “loveable asshole”? Sure. But it’s this tongue-in-cheek approach that adds an extra layer to the characters when they drop the false bravado and show their real emotions and feelings. Those beats of pure honest emotion carry more weight because Millar steps back from his usual style and allows the characters to breathe.
This is not a title that everyone will enjoy. It comes in layers and fans don’t care to work that hard to get their comic fix. There are epic fights, and there are graphic moments of violence, maybe enough to keep a casual reader entertained; but the true brilliance of this trade is just beneath the surface. Those fans who take a closer look will be rewarded to discover that this comic has depth and substance.
While there are moments where Millar gets a bit preachy on topics like wage equality, and geo-political matters, the true value here is in the characters themselves. The end of the trade is satisfying and leaves the reader wanting more… I don’t think you can ask for a higher compliment than that.
This is a book that has to be experienced to be understood. No simple review will do it justice. Final Score: 5 out of 5 Stars!
Jupiter’s Legacy- Volume 2 TPB
Story: Mark Millar
Art: Frank Quitely
Colors: Sunny Gho
Letters: Peter Doherty
Collects: Jupiter Legacy 2 Issues 1-5