Jupiter’s Legacy (vols. 1 & 2) by Mark Millar, with art by the incredible Frank Quitely, tells the origin story of a new group of superheroes. It is told quickly and succinctly, switching between the early days and the present, years after the race of superheroes began. In the present, we meet the next generation of superheroes, and they have many problems dealing with superhero parents. Having a therapist seems to be expected when you are the child of a superhero. Mark Millar is known for his high-action, Hollywood-style comics. A lot happens in his stories, usually told in a five-issue arc, and you feel as if you’ve sat through the latest early summer blockbuster when you read one of his stories.
In Jupiter’s Legacy (Volume 1), the idealistic older generation is shown in contrast with the children who, though they too have superpowers, act like celebrities rather than heroes. They seek big-money endorsements, do drugs, drink too much, and have sex with hangers-on. The conflict between the two generations seems to be at the heart of the book, but the real problem that causes the great changes in the world to come is between two brothers of the older generation: One brother lords over the other superheroes, including his brother, because he is the most powerful. Like Superman, he is both seemingly unstoppable and overly idealistic in his belief in good ole U.S. of A. and its current economic trajectory. He will not let his brother counsel the U.S. government on ways to change the country for the better, stating that the elected officials should be left to do their jobs without advisement from superheroes. This major disagreement will lead to one of the brother’s downfall, and the fallout will impact both children — a brother and sister — in very different ways. One will try to be a leader and the other will be forced into hiding, along with a secret child, the first of a third generation of superheroes.
In Volume 2, this child and his parents, one of whom was a super-villain, will fight to fix the world, to save it from the superheroes who have completely wrecked it. Volume 1 ends on a cliffhanger, so you’ll want to read Volume 2 immediately following Volume 1. Volume 2, however, ends with a real sense of closure. The action ramps up in this second arc, and honestly, I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough! With Millar, you know who is going to win and who is going to lose, but somehow it doesn’t matter: He builds suspense by making us wonder how our band of super-villains will save the day. It’s a violent, but satisfactory ending, as those who are owed a beating get what they deserve. If you don’t like violent action movies with a revenge plot, you will not find this book to your tastes. However, within the genre of superhero action movies, it’s a near-perfect script. Surely there’s a movie in production somewhere.
Mark Millar is hit-or-miss with me. I liked Kick-Ass, Wanted, and M.P.H, was disappointed by Reborn, and blown away by Huck and Starlight. Jupiter’s Legacy is one of the higher caliber Millar comics, and fortunately, he’s followed it with two more related prequel story arcs called Jupiter’s Circle (which I have yet to read). Perhaps, he, too, knew that he hit on a good idea with this series, an idea even better than Kick-Ass, in my opinion. And the art is absolutely fantastic. Frank Quitely rarely does art for a series, and he is best-known for working with Grant Morrison, specifically on All-Star Superman, so it’s appropriate for him to work with Millar on a character who is very similar to Superman. Quitely’s style is difficult to describe: It has a rough quality to it that I did not like the first time I saw it. However, it has grown on me, and now I think it is as essential to the story of Jupiter’s Legacy as Millar’s writing is. If you want a quality superhero story told in a handful of issues without the need to know tons of backstory, then you will find Jupiter’s Legacy worth seeking out.