Jupiter’s Legacy Volume One (2015)
Written by Mark Millar
Art by Frank Quitely
Out of all the comic creators that I’ve written about on this blog, I’ve never talked about Mark Millar. He’s an incredibly prolific writer and very controversial. This particular comic book series is set to be a Netflix original series sometime in 2020, so I thought it would be appropriate to read through Legacy and it’s spin-off Jupiter’s Circle to talk about Millar’s style and what he’s doing in this series. I wouldn’t call this his best work, it’s much tamer than his more infamous books.
Sheldon Sampson lost everything in the stock market crash of 1929, and in this moment of despair begins to have visionary dreams. By 1932, he’s chartering a boat with his friends to travel to an island he saw in one of these premonitions. The very place from his dreams is there but is more than Sheldon realizes. Days later, Sheldon and his friends emerge as fully-fledged costumed superheroes forever changing the world. Jump to present day where the children of these heroes are now a motley group. Some have followed in their parents’ footsteps while others are drunken layabouts abusing their powers for their own fun. Sheldon, known now as The Utopian, hangs his head in shame, not realizing his failure to stabilize the next-generation signals doom for mankind.
Mark Millar first came to prominence as a sort of protege to phenom Grant Morrison. He partnered with Morrison on The Flash, JLA, and the underrated Aztek: The Ultimate Man for DC Comics. Millar would really make a name for himself with Image Comics’ The Authority, which led to his significant role in developing Marvel’s Ultimate Universe. By 2004, Millar has launched a creator-owned imprint at Image, which saw him penning titles like Wanted, Kick-Ass, and The Kingsmen. Recently Millar seems to just be counting all the money he has from so many properties being developed into feature films and tv series.
Jupiter’s Legacy surprised me in how derivative it feels. Often in superhero comics, you read things that are referential to other characters to or homages to classic tales. This just feels like notes cribbed from other big comics, namely Watchmen, Kingdom Come, Fantastic Four, etc. There are some subtle nods to classic movies, especially King King, in the 1932 sequences. But I don’t feel like Millar has yet brought anything wholly original to the table in this first volume. It’s not bad, and he’s copying from some of the best, which helps. There’s just a strong sense of deja vu throughout the book.
This first arc is really fast-paced, often to its disadvantage. We get characters painted in fairly broad swaths and need to fill in the blanks for ourselves. The one character who does feel like she gets a bit more development is Chloe, The Utopian’s daughter. It’s clear her story is going to be the core of the whole series, and I look forward to seeing how it develops. There’s a significant time jump in the final part of this collection, which sets up a lot of elements that are yet to pay off. And that’s what so much of this volume is, an oversized act one, just setting the table for events to come with very little brought to a conclusion.
Legacy Volume One is full of the things you expect from a Millar book. There is gruesome over the top violence, interesting characters that aren’t fully developed yet, and a good hook that we hope pays off eventually. I can’t say I was overly impressed with this, but it has just enough to keep me reading more. I am genuinely stumped as to exactly where the series is going, and it seems to be a fun enough read to keep picking them up.