Thursday, 25 April 2013

New Beginnings - Jupiter's Legacy #1

A few years ago I came across a relatively different graphic novel called as The Authority. It was written by one, Mr Mark Millar. As I hadn’t really read anything outside of the normal Marvel and DC comics at that point, I was blissfully unaware that this was in fact published by an imprint held by DC. Or that Millar was the second writer on the series. All of that mattered little to me. Instead I was presented with a comic which tended to steer towards the courageous righteousness that both Marvel and DC loved, before sharply veering away and subverting the superhero norms.

Thus began my appreciation of Mark Millar’s work.

Following this I have read other titles such as Nemesis, Superior, Supercrooks and The Secret Service (to name a few of his works) - which were found on the almost egotistically named Millarworld label - and each one of them has lived up to my initial love of the different angles that he has taken in the past. There is also a huge element of successful self-promotion usually found in the comics and so I have known about Jupiter’s Legacy for some time now as well. Although this is worth noting that this is published by Image in collaboration with Millarworld.

I hadn’t done any further research into the storyline though, instead teasing myself with what could be and simply judging the book completely by its cover. Shallow? Maybe, but it preserved the mystery.

Jupiter’s Legacy hasn’t disappointed me at all. Issue #1 lived up to the hype I had created for myself, drawn from my expectations based on previous works.

In one respect this story is your basic superhero tale. A group of people venture to a mysterious island and for whatever equally enigmatic reason are granted super powers. Hooray! America is saved, the modern world can sleep easy and so “life” continues. This is where Millar begins to add his twist however - for this is not about the great and virtuous heroes, this is about their children.

Have you ever wanted to have a superhero as your Mum or Dad? If you have, then I’m pretty sure that you’ve imagined all the great things about it, but what about the rest? The expectations placed upon you by the public - and worst of all your parents - wanting you to live up to their growing legacies; doing it by their rules and under their ideals. Not a fantastic mix for a child in any walk of life, let alone a child with powers.

This issue is all about setting the scene, establishing our characters and meeting them in their own personal worlds. For me, it has explored the personalities involved, their shortfalls, and the differences between the generations, alongside the trivial nature of fame. These were the main aspects that drew me in. It would be so easy to just write another mostly happy family hero team story, but instead it actually manhandles more real life issues but with the superhero emphasis piled on it. This is what I love! Ageing, stalwart heroes juxtaposed with their shallow, cowardly children - more obsessed with their company endorsements than the ding the right thing - and the parallels between the Great Depression and the modern economic crisis.

The artwork comes from another stalwart from The Authority, Frank Quietly, who has also provided the main cover artwork. Variants are provided by Bryan Hitch, Dave Johnson, Phil Noto and J. Scott Campbell. Personally it’s hard to find fault with the interior artwork, Frank's work is always a delight, most memorably for me on Batman & Robin and All Star Superman. The Johnson and Noto covers didn’t really grab me but Bryan Hitch’s did. One thing I did enjoy with all of these though was how different they were, each taking a different aspect from the same story but you wouldn’t necessarily have linked them without the title. Another showing of its versatility as a story.

The internal artwork is clean and has a lot of fine linework, meaning that the frames don’t feel cluttered. I did get a little swept along by the themes of the story, but the more realistic feel of the art helped that too. A lot of attention has be paid and used to ensure there is a clear generation gap between the characters, further emphasising the differences the story exploits.

In short this is not your normal thigh-slapping, save-the-day superhero tale. This is a great little read and very easy on the eyes. Jupiter’s Legacy is a great little treasure and a welcome addition to my pull list.

Matt Puddy is wondering what Nemesis 2 and Kick-Ass 3 will bring to the table.

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