A group of famed explorers find a magical island that instils them with superpowers, years later they are the guardians of humanity, bastions of justice to be looked up to, but their children aren’t quite so honourable, more privileged celeb-brats with a sense of entitlement. It doesn’t take much for one of the old guard, tired of the reactionary superhero style and hungry to change things on a more substantial, some would say totalitarian level, to corrupt the most powerful of the new generation and use them to enforce his rule, taking down anyone who gets in their way. Yet more years later and the powers that haven’t toed the line are in deep hiding, but one young boy, stifled his entire life but itching to live up to the golden age example, puts them all at risk.
Still doing a formidable job of creating his very own expansive line of comics, Mark Millar has moved the new outings of his ‘Millarworld’ back to Image Comics, who must be offering better creator owed incentives than Marvel’s Icon, where the imprint was previously housed.
The latest edition to reach the end if its first volume is Jupiter’s Legacy, a superhero epic very much in the style of what veteran Millar fans are used to. Epic’s the right word too, using just five issues to establish a grand superhero continuity spanning decades without sacrificing character.
Selecting the phenomenal artist, Frank Quitely, to be his partner on this project being a remarkable choice with an eye to longevity and consistent quality, it isn’t such a great choice if you’re a comic fan that likes their comics on a regular schedule, being that, as is often the case with Quitely, this five issue mini-series has taken the better part of two year to conclude; not a problem for people who’ll be reading the volume in trade format but be aware that the second volume will be a looooong time off.
Sporting a style not necessarily to everyone’s tastes, Quitely’s talent lies in the duality of making his imagery seem both stark AND detailed, clean AND sketchy. He’s also one of the most concise storytellers in the business, but dealing with moments of action and violence with such dynamism, gravity and nuance that it’s almost beautiful, and as much that last paragraphed was a moan about his timescale, each issue is a joy to behold and most certainly worth the wait.
Fifteen years ago, Jupiter’s Legacy would have been one of the most trailblazing superhero comics you’d have ever read, but starting at his run on The Authority, many years ago, the characters and story at work have very much become the norm in Millar’s output, consistent with his ‘writing style’ if you will; nothing wrong with that, his stuff is always entertaining and somewhat thought provoking even if it’s not as original as it once was.
That being said, this combination of out-an’-out superhero world building and a mature, ‘graphic’ sensibility hasn’t been so prominent SINCE his seminal if ill-fated run on The Authority, so there may be a new generation of readers who’ll find Jupiter’s Legacy as fresh as that comic was, back in the day.
As can be expected from the Millarworld books, Jupiter’s Legacy has sharp dialogue, a smart and immensely tight story set in a world as rich in history as a comic that had run for ten times as many issues, all delivered with brilliant artwork that will stand the test of time better than almost every other book on the wracks.