“Jupiter’s Legacy” presents a bit of a quandry. On one hand, it’s the product of a writer known for shaking up the industry and one of the best illustrators out there. It’s a gorgeous book, but it fails to present any new or noteworthy concepts, coming off rather as a repackaging of many superhero tropes from the turn of the century.
Written by Mark Millar
Illustrated by Frank Quitely
The comic book event of 2013 continues as the schism between the superheroes widens and a plot to unseat the greatest hero of them all emerges. Celebrate the 75th anniversary of Superman this month by buying this frankly much-more interesting book by superstar creators MARK MILLAR and FRANK QUITELY.
Fans took notice a few months ago when the solicitation for “Jupiter’s Legacy” #2 hit the internet. The text took a deliberate stab at Superman, a character that Millar and Quitely have worked with on several occasions, sometimes rather definitively. While it’s true that the Superman books aren’t in the best of shape, and the jab is clearly in place to draw interest and therefore dollars, it does call something into question; should Image really be comparing this book to Superman?
It’s no secret that mainstream superheroics are, for the most part, a rather serious, grim, and dismal affair, a reflection of the popularity of “superhero deconstruction.” In an age where people pack cinemas in droves to see the next blockbuster film with “realistic” and “relatable” heroes at the helm, comics have definitely come to reflect those interests as well. “Jupiter’s Legacy” is clearly a product of this, with that made for film quality present in all of Millar’s works, as well as a cast of heroes that are anything but super.
This brings us back to the question. Is the cast of “Jupiter’s Legacy,” with their very human flaws and vices, comparable to someone like Superman, a boy-scout that embodies the best of humanity? Well, as presented here, the answer is a resounding “no.”
While last issue was very much about world building and set up, this issue centers heavily on the Utopian’s children, Brandon and Chloe. While we got a taste of their personalities and inner demons previously, here we are treated to the full psychological effects of growing up with an overbearing dad, who also happens to be the world’s most famous superhero. The children do garner some pity, but they are almost completely unlovable in the way Millar presents them.
While some could be quick to draw comparisons between the Utopian and the Man of Steel, Millar quite thoroughly squashes any similarities. The Utopian, while caring a great deal for humanity, allows his ideals to be polluted by his pride. As it happens, his ideals come into conflict with those of his brother’s, sparking the beginning of sub-plot steeped in Shakespearean tragedy.
If fans make any connection to Superman through “Jupiter’s Legacy,” it will be through flashbacks to Frank Quitely’s wonderful work on “All Star Superman.” The man has proven himself to be a master of his craft time and time again, and his work here is some of his best yet. While this issue lacks a singular “wow” moment, such as the mindscape in issue #1, Quitely still displays an astounding amount of detail in both his backgrounds and his characters. It’s a real treat to see the amount of emotion conveyed through his characters’ expressions. It’s a been a very long time since Quitely has worked on an ongoing series, and that alone makes “Jupiter’s Legacy” worth picking up.
While it has yet to tread new ground, “Jupiter’s Legacy” is a book full of depth and potential. With an engaging cast, an intriguing premise, and breathtaking visuals, it has all the makings of a modern classic, if the all star creative team can successfully execute what they’ve started. One thing is for sure, based on the grim cliffhanger, this is as far from Superman as it gets.
Final Verdict: 7.2 – Buy. A beautiful book hindered by a ho-hum plot.