Published by Image Comics on 2013
Genres: Comics & Graphic Novels
Buy at Forbidden Planet, Buy at Foyles
The children of the world's greatest superheroes may never be able to fill their parents' shoes. When the family becomes embattled by infighting, one branch stages an uprising, another goes into hiding. How long can the world survive when one family's super-powered problems explode onto the global stage? Collects Jupiter's Legacy #1-5.
I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Does originality matter in comics if the art compensates? The latest from Mark Millar, Jupiter’s Legacy, certainly tests that theory.
It’s 1932 and Sheldon Sampson has lost everything in the infamous Wall Street crash, but while soup kitchens and job lines are forming around him, he’s concentrating on getting to the mysterious island he’s been shown in his dreams. Insistent that it’s discovery will solve all of America’s woes, he assembles a team, including his brother Walter and lover Grace, to sail to the island and find out it’s secrets. What they find makes them superheroes, and as we move to the present day, it’s clear that while they may be heroes to the World they save, they’re not the best at parenting their offspring. Can the children of superheroes learn from their parents mistakes and do they even want to take up their mantels in the first place? Mark Millar (Kick Ass, Civil War, Kingsmen) and artist Frank Quietly ( New X-Men, Multiversity, Absolute Batman and Robin) take the reader across time lines in ‘Jupiter’s Legacy‘ with the themes of loyalty and responsibility explored along the way.
Make no mistake, ‘Jupiter’s Legacy‘ plot is far from original. While the origin of the powers bestowed upon the team may be new, the ensuing betrayal, split factions, sneaking around, and general chaos it all causes is far too reminiscent of previous stories from Millar and others to come across as anything other than corny. For sparring brothers Walter and Sheldon (who later adopts the moniker ‘Utopia’ due to his determination to make the World a better place) see Captain America and Iron Man in Civil War. For messed up kids of Superheroes, see Kick Ass. There’s even a little bit of Pixar’s ‘The Incredibles’ in issue 4. Fortunately though, Millar’s trademark tight scripts, snappy dialogue, and concise voice-overs give such a glossy sheen to the story that the recycling is easily forgiveable.
As far as Millar’s characters go, ‘Jupiter’s Legacy‘ is a real curates egg. While the main focus is on the second generation of heroes – Chloe, who’d rather party and work the socialite scene than save people, and her brother Brandon who collects groupies – the original ‘Union’ team suffer from bland, minimal personalities giving us little to connect to them with. More will obviously be told about them through flashbacks in upcoming issues, but the lack of connection meant events in these opening issues had little if no effect.
What really makes ‘Jupiter’s Legacy‘ really stand out is Frank Quietly’s art. Fabulous colours, great line work, and some great panel placement make the story flow seamlessly. Quietly also uses different colour palettes for each era, with the muted browns, blues and greys representing Depression era America and the teams travels to the mysterious island being the most effective. There’s never any doubt as to what’s occurring in the story either as Quietly keeps his character work distinctive, clean and easily identifiable. So often in comics with a large character roster, certain images like crowd scenes look jumbled and indistinct, but not here, and this really aids Millar’s twisty plot. The art also adds volumes to the atmosphere, particularly in the night scenes, complementing Millar’s political and social commentary beautifully. As an added plus, the women are drawn like real women! So that’s another point for Quietly.
‘Jupiter’s Legacy‘ is due to be adapted for the big screen, following Millar’s other successes Kick Ass and Kingsmen (also, don’t forget his contribution to the upcoming Captain America 3: Civil War) and I think it could work brilliantly as long as it sticks to a liner time line and works on those characterisations. If you want to be ‘in the know’ before that movie starts production, then I highly recommend checking the collected issues out.