While obviously Mark Millar and Frank Quitely havent exactly used Superman and Wonder Woman, Sheldon and Grace Sampson are analogues of those characters, with Sheldon wearing a very similar-looking Superman outfit and calling himself Utopia Man.
The comic starts off promisingly in October 1932 where a gang of intrepid adventurers sit in a Moroccan bar trying to convince a captain to give them passage out to an island that isnt on any maps. We meet Sheldon Sampson, a well-to-do young man who has been ruined by the Wall Street crash and is obsessed with finding the island he keeps seeing in his dreams. But when they reach the island the panels fade to white rather anticlimactically and we find out via voiceover that Sheldon, his wife Grace, and their friends all became what we now call superheroes.
Fast forward 80 years and were in 2013 Los Angeles where a pretty young girl is being photographed at a charity event. The girl is Chloe Sampson, daughter to Sheldon and Grace, while lurking in the shadows is her equally young but hugely jaded brother Brandon. This is a world where superheroes are viewed and treated like A-list movie stars. The two are lounging about an upscale LA club while their family of superheroes are far-away fighting a Darkseid-analogue called Blackstar and we catch up with Sheldon and Grace whove aged very well and continue to fight for truth and justice.
Im a huge fan of Millar and Quitely both as a team and for their other works - they really are among the most gifted creators in comics, so I was really looking forward to Jupiters Legacy (previously known as Jupiters Children). As I put the comic down though I felt very underwhelmed with what Id read. The opening 1930s scene was reminiscent of King Kong and I almost thought wed get a 30s version of Lost (which wouldve been great), but the fast forward to a fairly unimaginative alternative 21st century rendering was a bit disappointing.
Thereve been a lot of popular superhero analogue stories in the last 15 years and I dont think Jupiters Legacy really adds anything to the genre. Superheroes doing drugs? The Boys. Superheroes talking about taking charge of the government? The Authority. Superheroes abusing their powers? Irredeemable. There is potential here focusing on the children of superheroes but if all theyre going to do is behave like bratty, entitled celebrity kids today, like they do in this comic, its going to quickly become a very annoying and dull series. Im hoping Millar and Quitely have a few more tricks up their sleeves for future issues and Chloe and Brandon become more likeable, or at the very least interesting characters.
Millar has said in interviews for this comic that he was partly inspired by Carrie Fishers autobiographical book Postcards from the Edge where she wrote about the pressure she felt having to live up to her famous parents, Eddie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds. The influence is very apparent as Chloe definitely comes across as a young Carrie Fisher, young and pretty but consumed with drugs and self-doubt.
Frank Quitelys art is as beautiful as ever. His character design for Chloe is excellent, giving her this doomed waif look but with a hardness to her character buried beneath the surface in those black ingot eyes, and the superhero fight sequence between Utopia Man and co. vs. Blackstar captured the fast-pace and brutality of superhero hand-to-hand combat perfectly. Quitelys experience on previous superhero books like All Star Superman and New X-Men really lifts this sequence up.
But overall the content of the comic - the superhero fighting, the drugs and sex - left me somewhat disappointed. Its all stuff weve seen before and Id expected Millar and Quitely to produce something more innovative and vibrant than whats here. This is what Millar is calling the superhero event of 2013? Hmm. Its early days and Jupiters Legacy is certainly not a bad comic, but its not a great one either - heres hoping this series is a slow burn and picks up soon with the promised spectacle dazzling us all in the next issue.
Jupiters Legacy #1 by Mark Millar and Frank Quitely is available now at your local comics shop and online at Comixology
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