Like another book this week, I have inherited one which once stood proudly and agape as the recipient of what I like to call a Comic Bastards “Comic Bookakke,” otherwise known to the church crowd as a “group review.” In it, Jupiter’s Legacy by Mark Millar and Frank Quitely scored thusly: 4 buys, 1 pass, 1 borrow. Not bad, and I fully admit to being one of the buys, and despite some protests about this book feeling very “De ja Millar,” I continue to enjoy this series for its mythic approach to the modern-age superhero standard. Oh, and Frank Quitely’s art. Have you seen this guy? Jupiter’s Legacy #2 continues to tell the story about the world’s first superheroes, years after they received their powers from a mysterious island 600 miles off the coast of Cape Verde. But this is not a story about firsts, but rather, if I may, sloppy seconds. See, as it turns out, heroism isn’t genetic, and the son of the world’s most respected hero, The Utopian, is likely to achieve little more than keeping the bar down with his elbows.
That means Brandon’s a boozer, folks, not to mention a pretty colossal fuck-up compared to his father. Of course, he doesn’t help his street cred much this issue by attempting - and failing - to telepathically carry a cruise ship over the Bay Area for no apparent reason other than to show off. In his defense, he was steaming drunk and trying to add at the time, so that’s an easy mulligan to call.
His sister Chloe’s not much better, having woken up this issue after overdosing on interstellar nose candy, and discovering that she has also picked up another foreign body (so to speak) from the son of the world’s greatest super villain. Hutch, as he is called, is that great bad-boy-with-a heart-of-gold kind of character that you just have to love ... or hate. His intro here, which includes a rather biting teleportational response to a threat levied against him, is great, as is the Shakespearean nature of this star-crossed relationship.
Meanwhile, amidst the failures of the future, there is also dissent within the old guard and the Utopian (or Sheldon, as he is known when not in spandex regalia) must also contend with the growing discontent within some older members of the superhero community for the way America is being run by its government. The most vocal proponent of using their power to help the economy is Sheldon’s own brother, the world’s greatest telepath: The Mighty ... Walter.
Here, he pitches his idea on how to mend the financial crisis to the White House, in direct disobedience of his brother, which stirs up a verbal war between the ideologues. What follows leads to some possibly devastating inter-family trouble bubbling, which does come across a bit heavy-handed, as well as reminiscent of things we’ve seen in things like Kingdom Come. But you know what? I’m one of those guys who thinks there’s still some juice left in that dialogue, and I certainly don’t mind Millar’s turn on the squeezer here. I also understand he’s done similar stories in the past, but - possibly because of Quitely’s art - this feels more intimately textured for some reason, and I’m enjoying its familial structure.
Another thing I like about this book is its approach to allegory. In one respect, this is the newest in a long line of “modern day prometheus” stories, in this case mirroring the conflict between Jupiter (i.e., The Utopian) and Prometheus (Walter). As the former rages against the latter for attempting to bring “fire” to humanity, the title here may ask what legacy The Utopian might leave to the world, if not the gift of enlightenment or a befitting heir.
Through a variant but similar spectrum, this is also one hell of a Genesis story: a god giving life to someone and then being disappointed when his “son” doesn’t measure up to his lofty ideals. In this case, there’s even a snake in the garden, one who served beneath the god for years as a loyal companion ... before having other thoughts.
Maybe this IS just another Millar rehash, which tows the trend that modern superheroes are drunks, drug addicts and whores. Hell, just look what modernity did to our Superman: a mass-murderer and amateur abortion enthusiast in a cape. But in this case, Legacy’s conceit feels more centered; a more realized nucleus around which gods fall - both from grace and in love. The art from Quitely is as spectacular as it has ever been - grounding this pantheon of characters in his visceral, veiny way. Goddamn, I love his characters. Those boss-eyed little weirdos never cease to impress.
If you’re already sick of Millar’s stuff, this probably isn’t going to win you over again. However, if, like me, you’re not quite at the shunning level, in Jupiter’s Legacy, you’ll find a beautifully-drawn and colored story about the idealogical clash of generations and the dilution of conviction, all within a tight framework that lies somewhere between the Bible, Romeo & Juliet, the Fantastic Four and that moment when people stopped believing in gods.
Writer: Mark Millar
Artist: Frank Quitely
Colorist: Peter Doherty
Release Date: 6/26/13