Review: Jupiter's Circle #2

Across the street, as I write this review, an elderly Quebecois gentleman is building something. He’s been at it all day, toiling between healthy swigs of beer to hack, saw and hammer into shape something still nebulous for his back garden. You can tell it’s coming along more slowly than he’d like, but he sets to the task with a firm and educated hand... and a steady flow of Boréale Rousse. Good choice. I, meanwhile, have been hammering at keys and hackery, drinking a cayenne pepper kale smoothie my wife made for me, and casually wondering what quiet portent of doom Joss Whedon’s Twitter departure could possibly mean for us all. And I can’t help but think that, perhaps on some level, Mark Millar’s Jupiter’s series might well be telling this story, mine and the man’s across the street; that of a generational divide.

JupitersCircle_02-1Of course, it would be easy to point out my weaknesses comparatively to the man across the way, and imagine his resolve as steelier than my own. And that may very well be true, but it’s exactly the facade of generational masculinity that Jupiter’s Circle, as a complement story to Legacy, seeks to explore, and even positively undermine.

The second issue of this proposed 10-part miniseries sees the fallout after closeted gay superhero, Blue-Bolt, is blackmailed by J. Edgar Hoover in order to forcibly enlist he and the rest of his Super Friends into the service of the American government. Things don’t go especially well for anyone as the situation unfolds, with tragic suicide attempts, foiled interstellar invasions, heavy drinking and tearful soul-searching all making an appearance before the issue’s tidy resolution. And for the most part, it continues to be a great side dish to Millar’s treatment of generational heroics.

As he’s done in Legacy - and as I feel, sitting here, watching the man ply his trade as I do my wordsmithery - Millar does a good job of showing the sociological perils that afflict every generation, however invented. In this case, he plays with the notion of sexuality, and how erringly it was applied against conventional social mores to construct this increasingly archaic notion of masculinity during an era. It’s not something that hasn’t been done before, even with superheroes, but what it lacks in freshness, Millar makes up for in biting dialogue and some truly great character moments.

My one problem with the issue’s narrative is that its conclusion was predictable about 10 pages in, and when it does finally come, it does so too neatly. All is forgiven, everything is swept under the rug and our cast offers a refreshing acceptance untraditional of the time. I actually loved the “deus ex machinations” that led to the sinister good deed on the last page, but otherwise its end felt too rushed, too - for lack of a better word - happy. But then, who knows how the rest of the series will pan out, so I’m still reserving my overall judgement on that score.

The art, on the other hand, plays into the ostensibly naive era of Jupiter’s Circle perfectly. Wilfredo Torres’ direction here remains a solid choice for the story Millar is telling; it’s clean, simple, pure and innocent. I love his work here for the same reason I love Doc Shaner’s on a book like Superman or Shazam, and it feels very similar to Millar’s Starlight collaborator, Goran Parlov. It’s unfettered by too harsh a modernity, but at the same time feels timeless. It’s a fantastic style subverted further by Ive Svorcina’s use of light colors, which bleed atmospherically only sparingly throughout the issue’s darker or more action-filled moments. Absolutely great stuff.

Jupiter's Circle #2 may not be the most unique story in the world, but it does continue to be a great exploration by Millar, Torres and the whole team into the more secret battles undertaken by The Greatest Generation of superheroes. I continue to be interested in seeing how this portion of the Jupiter mythology affects our understanding of the Legacy to come, and will be here for at least as long as the quality storytelling in this series - both visual and in narrative - holds out. Now if you’ll excuse me, this smoothie isn’t going to top itself up.

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Jupiter’s Circle #2 Writer: Mark Millar Artist: Wilfredo Torres Colorist: Ive Svorcina Publisher: Image Comics Price: $3.50 Format: Mini-Series; Print/Digital