Mark Millar is an iconic comic writer, with superb runs on X-Men, Superman and Fantastic Four. He has gained most accolades from the immense success of Kick-Ass because it is a superhero book grounded in reality and shoots from a unique viewpoint. Millar’s recent work is creator owned and he has ripped off the shackles of mainstream incarceration and is taking superhero stories into the new world. Frank Quitely steers the ship alongside Millar, and you could not ask for a better artist. His characters are immediately recognisable and he finds emphasis on the subtle quirks of the cast. His work on the original New X-Men and All Star Superman stands above many an artist, because he crafted his own legacy in a superhero world full of innovative creators. The combination of these amazing artists on a creator owned book is a prospect to savour, and that tasty morsel is called Jupiter’s Legacy.
The book begins at the very beginning where Samson has a feeling. There is an island that is not found on any map, and not seen from any plane, where he must travel too. This is where mysterious superpowers were bestowed upon Sheldon and his crew. We then move eighty years into the future and end up in our time, where real world problems of poverty, banking scandals and political stalemates are congruous. It is here we meet our cast of superheroes being led by its elder, an old man called Sheldon Samson.
Mark Millar knows how to write a comic book, he takes his time in providing the foundation blocks with a solo personal narrative, sets the scene with banal dialogue between hero and extras and develops an ingenious way of delivering a fighting scene. The speech bubbles are sometimes full of dialogue but the writing is so original and it almost goes unnoticed. The whole issue is a set up to the plot, establishing the characters and their motivations and disgruntlements. It develops the postmodern superhero environment extremely well and is ready to progress with the story. Frank Quitely is pencilling with joy as he has a lot of costumes and faces to work with. The initial segments show traditional explorer outfits and the attention to detail of the shirt creases is mind-boggling. As we move to modern day superheroes, the costumes are classic and lovely but now attention is paid to skin creases and wrinkles. The youth of the modern generation have an up to date feel to them, especially with their fashion and Frank experiments with facial hair and hair types. The single action sequence of the book is portrayed in only few panels, and even that scene is played out whilst we see a beautiful beach environment, in which the criminal is suitably distracted. The full range of Quitely’s skills are on display here and it is a joy to watch.
Miller introduces a brand new set of protagonists that are very believable in the world we live. The moralistic, knows his role, war torn central character Sheldon argues with his brother over their role in society. The role of politics and superhuman strength is contested with regards to bettering the world. The progeny of the old firm are not as they would be portrayed in many a comic book. For the most a superhero child will either be incredibly for their heritage or excessively against it. Millar creates a natural and honest second generation of powered individuals. They are obsessed with popularity, abusing their power and status, lethargic in their moral direction, invested in enjoyment, and ignoring the call to battle whilst terrified of revealing their apathy. By far my favourite concept of the book is of the insecure vegetarian pacifist daughter with superpowers. There are wide ranges of possibilities on offer and the characters have remarkably interesting views and unbecoming qualities. Millar has a firm grasp of his superhero modernity and it is incredibly refreshing to be this excited about a new comic again.
“Superheroes were the summit of American aspiration”