There’s been a plethora of comic series hell bent on showing us what our own world would look like filled with superheroes. From The Watchmen to Marvels to Warren Ellis’ Black Summer it’s not a new idea in the very least. Luckily writer Mark Millar seems to be introducing a series that’s more about old world thinking from the 30’s versus the mindset of today. With an artist like Frank Quitely behind him, can he do wrong? Or, a better question to ask, is it good?
Jupiter’s Legacy (Image Comics)
You know a comic is more focused on the big ideas when the majority of its pages ask the characters to talk about politics and the world in general instead of spending its time developing characters. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, and usually helps add a layer of reality and commentary, but it usually means it’s going to take a little longer to know the characters. Unless of course, the characters are based on archetypes we’re all familiar with.
Judging by this issue Millar is going to use said archetypes in order to get to the real story he wants to tell. Namely to force a conversation between heroes who had ideals before they gained superpowers and their children who had superpowers from birth.
Adventurer soon to be super powered.
The book opens with a couple of adventurers who are seeking an island that appeared in a dream. It’s 1932 and the world is a scary place. Heroes are necessary, or so the characters think, and lo and behold the island gives them powers. Before we even see what powers they have or what they will achieve the comic cuts to 2013 where we come upon their children at a charity event.
Ah, phony publicity. Gotta love America!
Millar clearly wants to juxtapose the idealist adventurer with the spoiled brat, and he does a good job of it too, particularly with the smug spoiled child syndrome amongst the youngsters. Instead of showing us their exploits he decides to have them speak and convey their ideals through dialogue. This forces the reader to parse out what is going on and while it’s usually better to show and not tell, it does an adequate job getting into the heroes heads.
It’s nice to see Millar branch out from his typical gore induced comics to a more sophisticated, dialogue heavy comic book. Clearly this is for a more adult reader who wants to see ideas at play. That said, it’s a little heavy in the delivery and may come off as conceited stuff. We aren’t shown why we should care for any of the characters, nor why any of it matters, so to hear them go on and on about how they view the world is a bit much. I’m sure Millar fans and Quitely fans will eat it up though, because we all know just how good they can be. It’s just unfortunate they may be resting on their laurels and skipping ahead a bit to get to the meat of the conversations they want to deliver.
This is how the children of superheroes view their celebrity…
…and this is how the adults talk.
That isn’t to say i’m on board for whatever they have to bring. In truth, I’m with all the Millar and Quitely fans, but I just wish the book did a little more with the characters. Of course, this issue is still filled with great ideas, political or not. For instance, one of the heroes can fly and also enter people’s minds. When he does so he inserts the villain into a mindscape that took him months to craft, right down to the smell and fishies in the water. Clearly these older heroes have incredible power and yet they don’t use them for much more than punching each other.
There really isn’t much to be said about Quitely’s work that hasn’t been said before. The texture and weight he adds to clothes and the like add a certain sense of reality lacking in most comic book artists work. And he doesn’t even have to go into hyper detail. Instead of say, the scratchy detail of Rob Liefeld or David Finch, he allows his pencils a more decided place on the face or clothing. It gives the imagery a fullness, but also a more controlled and intented feel as opposed to the chaos of hyper detailed art.
The world’s gone mad.
- Quitely can do no wrong.
- There’s a definite sense things are building and we’re in for a treat
- Character development takes a backseat
There are subtle touches at play here that, I think, will payoff once this series is over. Reading it in the single issue format will be a treat like any serial is, but I can’t help but be envious of anyone out there who will discover this series once it’s finished. Take for instance the costumes of the old heroes as opposed to the young. The younger ones are dressed as heroes are today, in highly revealing sexy stuff, while the older heroes seem to be from the Golden Age of comics. Little things like this, that aren’t even pointed out by the characters, add dividends to this series.
Is It Good?
Yes. Definitely a cut above the rest when it comes to comics written for adults.