Mark Millar is not a subtle writer by any means, notorious for several excessively violent publications including Kick-Ass, Nemesis and more recently, Supercrooks and The Secret Service. Which is why Jupiter’s Legacy was such an unexpected title: though violence is not absent, the book is a beautiful albeit melancholy tale of superheroes and their legacies.
Less focused on shock value and more on exploring what it means to be super powered in modern times, Millar poses a very interesting scenario. The idea of a dynasty of such powerful beings is intriguing, but the reality of what that could look like today is disheartening. Imagine a super powered Paris Hilton or Kim Kardashian, names known more for their wealth than their worth to society. More focused on media coverage and sponsorships than saving the world, they completely ignore their inherent powers, the genetic gifts of being born to super powered parents. It’s a cruel satire that hits close to home in a society so enthralled by the upper class, taking these already haughty people and adding super strength, speed and agility to their list of wasted abilities. These are not empathetic characters; they’re spoiled and thoughtless from the start, but they are still fascinating. Therein lies the rub, the irony of this book, and celebrity worship in general: you may not like these children of Jupiter, but you still need to know their story.
Beautifully illustrated by Frank Quitely, there are subtleties and nuances hidden within every line. Issue #1 begins with an idealistic voyage by a man literally following his dreams. A vision has led Sheldon Sampson to draft friends and strangers alike in his quest to find The Island, a place that doesn’t exist on any maps and has never been seen by seasoned sailors. He is determined and optimistic, despite losing everything in the Great Depression. It seems that this island holds the key to not only his salvation, but the salvation of his country as well, which is still struggling to recover from financial collapse. His hope is so pure and persuasive that he easily creates a bond with readers who want to see him find this island after just a few pages too. This is the pre-history of Jupiter’s Legacy, the groundwork for the modern events that unravel in the rest of the issue.
Amazing is too strong a word for this first issue, as the book itself is interesting but not immediately impressive. Its strength lies in its premise, with Millar teasing at the same potential for greatness that Sampson is searching for. The repercussions of his discovery and its legacy, as dismal as it may appear to be, hold the power in this series. As always, it all depends on how it will play out, but it’s certainly introduced an idea that’s worth talking about. As long as it keeps me asking questions and thinking out loud, it will keep me reading.