Well. It’s been a few months, hasn’t it, Jupiter’s Legacy? Time delays notwithstanding, I’ve heard a bunch of discontent from the comic book community recently about anything associated with Millar. I suppose I understand a certain amount of that - his stuff recently has been criticized (rightly so, some of the time) for being “samey” in its expectedly gritty style and “flawed superhuman with a twist” thematic approach. However, his work on Jupiter’s Legacy with Frank Quitely, while building somewhat methodically over its first two issues, proves to be, in its third outing, pretty fucking special. If any issue thus far could sway you to start following this mature-content take on The Incredibles II, it’s Jupiter’s Legacy #3.
I guess you could say the shit really hits the fan here, and if you did, I wouldn’t hold it against you. This world’s new generation of superhumans - the sons and daughters of the original intrepid heroes who first achieved godlike powers via a mystical and mysterious island - finally move against their elders in what could only be described as a very bloody super-coup.
The core conflict being fought over here, however, isn’t necessarily generational. Much of it has to do with the level of involvement super”heroes” should have in the political and sociological affairs of the rest of the world, with the altruistic and old-fashioned Utopian (think an older version of Kingdom Come Superman) championing a laissez-faire approach, and his brother Walter (Magneto with the powers of Xavier, I guess?) arguing a more hands-on tactic, ostensibly allowing humanity to benefit from their superior abilities and intellects.
The outcome? Well, let’s just say that things, as they are often wont to do, change. And they do so here violently, and with nonexistent remorse. I think Millar is really at his best here again. There is much more going on in this book than the action-packed fare I mentioned above, and he is able to express some very intimate, character moments resoundingly in the interims.
I love the dynamic that he has established - albeit briefly - with the human side of The Utopian, as well as the very ground-level problems he and his wife are dealing with in their newly pregnant daughter, knocked-up by the son of this world’s most infamous villain. Their relationship in particular takes on new importance after this issue, and it will be very interesting to see where Millar goes with it.
Millar also manages his space well this issue, giving those familial problems a pressing gravity before completely swallowing them within a much more tempestuous, deadly battle. It’s a sudden shift, and a jarring one, but it is clearly meant to be so. This world is irrevocably destroyed after this issue, and I have only a vague idea of where it might be going from here, let alone how it’s going to end; but if this is any indication, it’s going to be quite the furious flurry, in no small part thanks to Frank Quitely.
One of the things I love most about Quitely’s art - and there are many things in that category - is the way he chooses to portray action; often not in the impact, but in the aftershock. For example, you don’t expressly see Chloe (The Utopian’s prodigal daughter) being punched through a house - you simply see the rubble still lingering in the air, a crater left by an invisible force. He does it a lot in his other books as well - the whoosh of Superman’s contrail; his sudden, Wile E. Coyote-esque puff of dust - and for some reason, it always works for me, visually.
I just find it more powerful than seeing five steely knuckles sock an unbreakable square jaw; of course, Quitely is no slouch in that department either, and we get a great amount of classic ass-kicking, superhero stylee ... but to a degree that can only exist in a Millar book. That’s not a knock, mind you, because the excessive gore used here makes a solid point: this is the visceral end of things, innocence skewered and wallowing in its own bloodline.
There are two scenes in particular in this book that make this issue a firm contender for art of the month - one of which involves a basically bifurcated housewife, and the other a gripping version of what happened just recently in a Big Two event book. The juxtaposition of domestic setting and efficient, uncaring savagery in the latter was stark and - pun intended - grave, but also bright and wistful: a sick combination that permeates every corner of this book, both artistically and narratively.
Despite its delays and its hype, I’ve really enjoyed Jupiter’s Legacy so far, and issue three is by far its best yet. Sure, it may ring familiar at points, but where this book takes this story is somewhere I, for one, have not been before. And I’m liking where we’re going.
Writer: Mark Millar Artist: Frank Quitely Colorist: Peter Doherty Publisher: Image Comics Price: $2.99 Release Date: 9/25/13