Mark Millar does what he does best in this sequel, and that is to take well known tropes of a particular genre, in this case the superhero genre, and play fast and loose with them to create something new, and always entertaining, with a satisfying ending.
It’s been a while since the first volume and since then Millar has filled in many of the gaps in the history of this particular set of superheroes via the prequel series, Jupiter’s Circle Vol.1 and 2. These prequels also shed some light on both the original Jupiter’s Legacy series as well as illuminating events, motivations and fleshing out characters ahead of this volume, which is out this week from Image Comics, and my pick for the weekend.
People who were once considered ‘super-villians’ are no longer seen as such as they are united in the common cause; the overthrowing of the brat, Brandon, and his New World Order. All are brought together by Hutch and Chloe, the former once considered one of the bad guys. And, literally the only character without any superpowers himself. But then, when did that ever stop Batman from coming out on top? And, like Batman, he does have his gadgets. Well, one, but it’s used in very creative ways in this book to do away with would-be aggressors.
Walter Sampson and his nephew, Brandon, represent a new status quo where the dictator– as so many before him–can believe that what they are doing is right and proper and in betterment of the people. All the while, throwing his immense power around in a fascistic manner and working under the guidance of Uncle Walter, a nasty piece of work even before we realised how far he would go in getting the girl (in Jupiter’s Circle).
He’s a truly Machiavellian menace living for so long right under everyone’s collective nose and the true power behind the throne. Like Iago whispering into Othello’s ears. Brandon, Walter and the rest of these spoilt spandex-wearers are a police state with a smile; friendly fascism. And, as long as the jobs are created and industry reinvigorated, we’ll still drink from this particular Kool-aid. It’s a parallel that I felt has a lot in common with America, and the West, today and the beliefs that America is being made great again. Tell me when that happens, will you?
What started off as a series looking at celebrity culture and it’s depressing affects on those who think they are ‘all that’ via the spoilt, silver-spooned super kids of that first series, has become something more. It’s the big bang, the grand showdown, pistols at noon and the whole volume is one long journey towards that inevitability. What was once good is bad and vice versa.
Of course, this would be a great, classic Millar story anyway (and one of the very few sequels he has committed to) but with the return of co-creator and brother-in-arms, Frank Quitely, this is immediately elevated to another level altogether.
Quitely, without even the slightest of speed lines, creates the sense of movement, capturing the perfect moment within any fast-paced (or otherwise) action set-piece, in each panel. Equally, he creates a real sense of weight, volume and general space. This is a recognisable world that really seems to breath and to be alive. This is a remarkable talent to have, even taking into account what an accomplished artist Quitely is.
He makes Millar’s already dynamic script even more so. Even in the most mundane of panels, Quitely infuses each character with poise and posture that give them shape, depth; realism. And, in the many, many widescreen shots used to show the vast scale of some of the battles that unfold with this trade paperback’s pages, when the characters are minutely presented against vast backdrops, Quitely’s attention to detail, his interesting experimentation with panel and page layouts, always keeps your eyes fixed rigidly. He is a modern day impressionist, but with more detail.
And, in the return of Hutch’s dad, Skyfox, we have a Superman archetype who really does think altruistically and in a way that is more in keeping with how to possibly deal with today’s evils. Where Superman is something of a capitalist system lackey (as aptly predicted in Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns), Skyfox is not willing to allow corporate kings and queens to go unpunished for the everyday evils our superheroes seem happy to ignore.
Just what do our DC and Marvel heroes actually represent anymore? It’s a question asked, and in some ways answered by the end of this book, and one I can happily get behind being something of a left-leaning thinker myself. The capitalist system that has dominated the Western World as the ‘acceptable’ societal paradigm does not work. Communism–corrupted as it was wherever it was applied in the 20th century–didn’t work. But, maybe a middle way is what is needed.
An alternative system that includes white collar crimes as much as it does would-be world conquerors. And, wouldn’t it be just and appropriate if we are to learn that Lex Luthor’s ultimate downfall would not be at the hands of Superman, but the IRS in a failure to pay the appropriate amount of taxes? If Superman was around in real life, I’d like to think he would be rounding up these greedy fat cats himself. Or, at least report on it as Clark Kent.
C’mon Supes, what would Skyfox do?
Jupiter’s Legacy Vol. 2 is out now from Image Comics, written by Mark Millar and illustrated by Frank Quitely.