The third issue of Millar’s prequel series charting the world’s first masked heroes during their mid-century prime sees The Flare (an analogue of DC’s The Ray), as he enters into an elicit affair (afFlare?) with hopeful homebody and masked adventurer wannabe, April Kelly. Like in its first two issues, Jupiter’s Circle #3 focuses more on the tawdry double personal life of The Flare, and how it affects both his superheroics, and more importantly, his otherwise perfect, smiling “nuclear” family. It is the potential meltdown of the latter that we are left tantalized with at the close of the issue, in a quiet but striking bit of impending gloom... and doom.
Millar and Torres continue to do a great, if not revolutionary job with this series, which addresses with intrigue and vigor, the “human” side of being “superhuman” during a time where the illusion of straight-laced, whitewashed perfection was the preferred form of ordinary, even for the extraordinary. In that, it reminds me of Grace Randolph and Russel Dauterman’s fantastic Supurbia, but of course cast in a different, much less flexible era.
As such, and as I’ve said in my other reviews of the series, Jupiter’s Circle isn’t reinventing the wheel, and pretty much everything that happens - barring the end scene, perhaps (even if it was spelled out with a look earlier in the issue) - is predictable. But just because this kind of story has been done before, and simply because it’s such a clear mix of currently buzzy concepts (i.e., superheroes meets Mad Men), that doesn’t mean it’s an unworthy addition to your pull pile. Millar is on-form here, with easy writing in a light, quaffable story. Sure, it may not be a rare vintage, but it’s definitely a good table wine.
Speaking of my druthers personally, issue three would benefit from the scandalous robustness we saw in the first two issues, and it might be interesting to see a more interwoven narrative thread tying together these apparently two-and-done slice of life stories. However, for what it is - a candid snapshot of a bygone age’s soft underbelly, meant to give greater flesh to the meat of the universe - I think Jupiter’s Circle #3 works well.
Torres’ art continues to be another highlight of the book, and while some readers might find his thickly-lined, uncomplicated approach off-putting, I think it does a fantastic job of (literally) illustrating the relative innocence of its setting, however much a charade that might be.
At the same time, Torres employs quite a few great turns of visual storytelling this issue, mostly by way of some great facial acting, not to mention bringing to life (in his own inimitable way) some impressively evocative situations. Whether it’s a man in a loud yellow spandex onesie smoking and drinking in a bar, or an impeccably coiffed woman waiting expectantly for a bus, Torres’ immediately simple style, especially upon reflection, belies brilliantly the depth with which he is able to convey a tone and tell a story.
Altogether, Millar and Torres are working well in Jupiter’s Circle to deliver a book that feels light and airy, while at the same time cutting deeper grooves of commentary, both within our very real society and in the world previously established in Jupiter’s Legacy. I’m not sure it’s a “must read” for casual observers, or fans of that universe specifically, but for my money at least, Jupiter’s Circle continues to be a fun use of the medium and superhero subgenre, and this third issue once again effectively whets my appetite for more.