Comic Book Storytelling: Jupiter’s Legacy #1-2

Hello everyone.  I am back with another review of the first two issues of a new comic book series.  This time I am looking at Jupiter’s Legacy, written by Mark Millar, drawn by Frank Quitely, and released by Image Comics.  The promotional material for this series has made some bold claims calling it “the greatest superhero epic of this generation” and “the superhero epic that all future comics will be measured by”.  So does the series so far live up to these claims?  Not even a little bit.

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Let’s start with a recap of Issue #1. It begins with a little back story on how super heroes came to be in this world.  In 1932 a group of people sailed to a magic island and it gave them super powers.  They became the world’s first super heroes and went on to inspire America during the Depression era and just in general do wonderful heroic things over the next several decades.  It then time jumps to 2013 and we see that the children of these heroes have grown up to be a bunch of spoiled fame seekers using their parents’ legacy and powers to build their celebrity brand.  We see one of the main characters, Brandon, in a nightclub talking about how cynical and rotten the world is while behaving in a cynical and rotten manner.  We see the older heroes fight a super villain and then argue about how much responsibility they have a right to place on their kids and whether or not their powers should be applied to solving real world problems.  The issue ends with the character Chloe having a drug overdose.

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Issue #2 begins with Brandon doing stupid things with his super powers and being scolded by his father, the super hero leader Utopian.  Chloe wakes up in a hospital and we learn that this is not her first drug overdose and it also turns out that she is pregnant and didn’t know it.  Chloe then meets with her boyfriend, and the father of her baby one would assume, who is the son of a super villain and some kind criminal in his own right.  We then go to the White House where Utopian’s brother has disobeyed his orders and is using his super mind powers to council the government on how to solve the financial crisis.  Utopian and his brother argue over the issue a bit then we go to Brandon and his uncle plotting to overthrow Utopian as the leader of all super heroes.

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This series is so full of holes that at first I was not sure where to begin with them.  The premise of the series is summed up in a line printed on the back of each issue.  “Chloe and Brandon are the children of the world’s greatest super heroes.  Can they ever fill their shoes?”  The story is meant to revolve around this question which is ironic because it only works if you don’t think to hard and don’t ask any questions.  So that is exactly what I am going to do.  I present to you all of the questions that I have come to me while reading Jupiter’s Legacy.

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So exactly who among these characters are we supposed to sympathize this?  They are all just kind of there and we still know barely anything about them.  Do the shoes of the first generation heroes even need to be filled right now?  They defeated a super villain in the first issue without the help of their kids, why does it matter whether or not if they live up to the legacy?  Is Chloe’s drug overdose at the end of Issue #1 supposed to be shocking or dramatic or something?  You know she was only in four pages of the issue and she only talked on two of them.  Is the whole “so wasted she didn’t know she was pregnant” trope really the best thing they could come up to try to inspire us to care about Chloe? The younger generation all appear to be in their 20’s and/or 30’s, the first generation heroes were already adults in 1932, that means they all waited until their 70’s or 80’s to have children.  And we are just supposed to accept that?  Why didn’t any of them have children when they were younger?  How did they manage to have kids at that age?  Does this mean that Chloe is about to have the first super grandchild ever?  Actually this whole concept would make a lot more sense if we were dealing with the grandchildren instead of the children of the world’s greatest heroes.  Or it might make sense if this story took place in the late 1960’s or early 1970’s instead of 2013. The conflict between the other heroes and their leader Utopian makes no sense.  For one thing, why is Utopian still the leader?  Why does anyone care what he thinks?  Do you honestly expect us to believe that over the last century of American history no one has ever gone against his authority before?  Where does his authority even come from?  Why does his brother Walter listen to him at all?  Is Utopian secretly mind controlling everyone to obey him?  Why is it even necessary to plot against Utopian when all the other superheroes really need to do is ignore him?  If they don’t like what he is ordering them to do then all they have to do is stop listening?  What is he going to do about it?  Does he secretly murder people who disobey him?  What exactly are any of these characters super powers anyway?  I am seriously not sure.  Most of them appear to be able to fly or be invulnerable; do they all have the same powers then?  Walter has some kind of super mind powers, why does he have a unique ability like that and no one else does?

 Jupiter’s Legacy is being played up as the next great gritty deconstruction of the super hero genre.  If you want to read a great super hero epic that deconstructs the tropes it is built on then go read Watchmen.  If you want to read Mark Millar taking on super hero genre tropes them go read his run on The Authority.  I should probably talk about Frank Quitely’s art. I am not a big fan of Frank Quitely but if I want to enjoy his art I can go back and check out All Star Superman or WE3.  His work on Jupiter’s Legacy is fine but not enough to keep me reading it.

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