Mark Millar's latest independent superhero tale takes his characterisation back to basics, but provides a stunningly detailed interrogation of our own social and political ideals. A true epic in the making.
With the critical and commercial success of both Kick-Ass and Kingsman in print and on the big-screen Mark Millar has become, arguably, one of the current biggest names in comics. The latest in his long line of self-made “Millarworld” titles, Jupiter’s Legacy, sees the Scottish creator delve deeply back into the world of caped crusaders, embracing the very concept of superheroes with his trademark political wit and penchant for extreme violence still in tact.
Collecting together the first five sparsely released issues of the series, Book One dives head-first into an entirely new universe of independently created heroes, approaching them with a certain amount of social realism largely ignored in the popular titles of Marvel and DC. After chronicling the early origins of original super-powered settler The Utopian and his family of similarly gifted heroes, Legacy spends the majority of its plotting in present-day and beyond, charting the contemporary fall-out and fame that follows those with abilities, namely the Utopian’s children and the future they hold for themselves. But when one of the founding-fathers of the superhero movement turns his interests towards politics, Millar’s new universe takes a dystopian turn and family ties begin to dissolve.
Often appearing like some form of super-powered, modern-age Game of Thrones, Jupiter’s Legacy quickly becomes the central epic to the Millarworld universe. This is a vast, all-encompassing narrative which crosses genres and timezones with both ease and creativity, reinventing the very notion of superheroism like never before. Millar’s political edge adds a sense of realism to his work which, although some may not welcome, actually benefits Legacy a great deal. This latest batch of heroes are nothing new: they fly, they move things, they fight, but ultimately they’re no different to the likes of Superman and co. It’s not Millar’s characterisation that sets Legacy apart from other similar titles, it’s his approach. In flirting with the realms of reality he interrogates the very concept of super-heroism to its core, creating not just a well-versed adventure tale but one that covers new moral ground also.
Walking hand-in-hand with Millar’s expert storytelling is of course, Frank Quitely’s fitting artwork. A veteran of the superhero mode from Grant Morrison’s kryptonian re-boot All-Star Superman, to the likes of New X-Men and beyond, the Scottish artist’s hugely detailed and frankly gorgeous depictions provide the very tapestries upon which Millar lands his epic. From the jungles of a 1920s, Kong-style island to the apocalyptic remains of our future Earth, Quitely nails the moods and settings with flair but never flamboyance, marrying his art together with Millar’s realism beautifully.
It becomes clear that with such a winning team at the title’s centre, Jupiter’s Legacy looks to be a true independent classic in the making, and with a potential movie-deal surely not far off, Millar is definitely still flying high. Ultimately this much is true: despite a prequel series soon being set to hit the shelves the wait for Legacy’s grand finale is likely to be a difficult one.
Jupiter’s Legacy: Volume 1 (2015), by Mark Millar and Frank Quitely is published by Image Comics and will be released in paperback in the UK on 21st April 2015.