Jupiter’s Circle Volume 1 (2015)
Written by Mark Millar
Art by Wilfredo Torres
Jupiter’s Circle Volume 2 (2016)
Written by Mark Millar
Art by Wilfredo Torres & Chris Sprouse
While the present-day Jupiter’s Legacy is put on pause, Mark Millar takes us back to the glory days of their parents in the pages of Jupiter’s Circle. This mostly serves as a critique of the Golden Age of Superheroes with archetypes standing in for Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, et al. If you have read a postmodern comic in the wake of Alan Moore’s Watchmen, then I can’t imagine anything here will shake you up too much. It’s pretty much as expected, an emphasis on the personal lives and tribulations of the superheroes. This is essentially Mad Men as a story about men and women in capes and tights.
The series is broken into loose character spotlight arcs, starting with Blue Bolt. His closest analog would be somewhere between Green Lantern and Starman, wielding a rod of power given to him by the aliens that granted him and his friends powers. Blue Bolt is closeted in the middle of a very homophobic era in America. The heroes have managed to keep their identities secret for a decade, and now J. Edgar Hoover is playing dirty to find out who they all really are. He uncovers Blue Bolt’s true identity and had surveillance done on him. Then he presents Bolt with photos of the hero engaged in intimate relations with other men. Bolt has to deal with the top lawman in America trying to ruin his life and remaining loyal to his friends.
The Flare is this universe’s version of The Flash, who is married with three children. His arc is the most mundane, he meets a young fan of him and his team. This leads to an affair and her adopting a masked identity and being forced onto the team. This is the most Mad Men like storyline with The Flare acting like a supporting character from that series. There isn’t much substance to this one, and it doesn’t really have longterm effects on the overall series.
The arc for Skyfox, the Batman/rebellious hero analog, is the most interesting to me. First, he begins a relationship with a woman that eventually falls apart, and he drifts away from the team. The best part is what happens next as Skyfox becomes involved in the counter culture movement, notably the Watts Riots in Los Angeles in 1965. As Skyfox becomes more radicalized, his former teammates become determined to stop him, which ends up with his transformation into a supervillain. However, he’s more in the vein of an antihero, and his ex-allies feel more like villains here.
This is heavily Alan Moore-inspired, and nothing will really feel like a revelation in comic books. It’s also disappointing that someone like Millar, who is known to push boundaries, has delivered something so mundane. The Blue Bolt story was the arc pushing things the most, and the Skyfox arc was pretty interesting, but overall this is simply an okay comic book. The art by Wilfredo Torres is disappointing when we’ve just come off of the beautiful work of Frank Quitely in Legacy. I am just not a fan of Torres’ work, who also illustrated Black Hammer: Quantum Age. Thankfully in the second volume, Chris Sprouse jumps on board. I’ve enjoyed his work since way back in the Legionnaires days. Overall, Jupiter’s Circle will entertain you, but it’s nothing particularly stand out.