Jupiter’s Legacy explores the daunting challenge faced by superheroes in their quest to use their abilities for the betterment of mankind. It’s one thing to combat intergalactic threats – a few optic blasts, a couple earth-shattering wallops with indestructible fists – but what about the other challenges facing humankind; the ones that can’t be solved with violence? Take the Global Financial Crisis as an example. Where does a superhero’s responsibility begin and end?
In 1932, following the devastating loss of his business in the Wall Street crash, Sheldon Sampson and a select group of family and friends venture to an unmapped island west of Cape Verde, guided only by the lingering memory of Sheldon’s vivid dream. What they discover turns the group into a superheroes, henceforth dedicated to staving off the supervillain threats we’re accustomed to. Sheldon is adamant: their obligation is to mankind’s elected leaders. They’ve no right to overstep those boundaries just because of their enhancements. But there’s a growing resentment towards this outlook within their own camp, and as the story rockets forward to the current day, the focus to the generational conflict behind the scenes; the YouTube generation of heroes don’t feel the same obligation towards mankind as their predecessors, content to live out their lives as part-time superheroes, full-time sponsors for whoever’s willing to pay the money. So how will they respond when traitors within the family depose of Sheldon as their leader?
Jupiter’s Legacy Volume 1 is further evidence of Mark Millar’s renaissance; not that the quality of his work ever truly dipped, just that his stories – Kick Ass and Nemesis, specifically – were so bombastic and extravagantly violent, they often overshadowed the core narrative. That’s certainly not the case here, no doubt partly because of his collaborator, superstar artist Frank Quitely, who excels at the smaller moments, and perfectly captures the mannerisms and emotions required to layer the story with gravitas. Of course, when it comes to blockbuster action – and there’s plenty of it – Quitely is profligately dynamic, as always. These scenes are flawlessly storyboarded, and Millar wisely gives his artist the space he needs.
As Marvel and DC Comics continue to circle the superhero drain, Millar and Quitely’s Jupiter’s Legacy is a refreshing take on a well-trodden genre. It’s unfortunate that we’re in for such a long wait until its second volume, but hey, it just provides an excuse for a re-read.
My thanks to Image Comics for providing a digital copy of Jupiter’s Legacy.