Title: Jupiter’s Legacy Volume 1
Publisher: Image Comics
Writer: Mark Millar
Artist: Frank Quitely
Colorist/Letter: Peter Doherty
Cover Artist: Frank Quitely
For those that don’t know the work of Mark Millar, he can do no wrong. Not only is he churning out great stories and great characters, he has figured out the Hollywood machine and helped spawn huge blockbusters. When it comes to creator driven comics, Millar stands at the helm along side Robert Kirkman and Todd McFarlane. Teaming up with Frank Quitely, this team brings the reader into the universe shaped by a family of superheroes.
Sheldon Sampson is the young and ambitious patriarch of the Sampson family. After losing his entire family fortune during the stock market crash of 1929, Sampson receives several visions of an island off the coast of West Africa that holds untold power. Sampson is not clear of the details but his vision is clear. He convinces his siblings and several colleagues to embark on a mission to find that island. The Sampsons are successful and return to the United States as god like beings with fantastic powers. They help lead the United States out of the Depression and several wars.
Fast forward to the beginning of the 21st century and the Sampson clan has gotten bigger. They live in an age where there are almost no super villains. At the same time, the entire world is going into another severe depression. Unemployment is at an all time high and the financial market is in worst shape. However, the new generation of superheroes along with Chloe and Brandon, the children of Sheldon and Grace Sampson, are spoiled rich brats who prefer to be followed by the paparazzi and get corporate endorsements, are definitely not up to task. Meanwhile, Sheldon’s younger and less capable brother, Walter Sampson, continues to urge his older brother to take a more aggressive stance on global politics to fix the economy. As Sheldon continues to ignore Walter’s pleas and berate the new generation of heroes for their incompetence, tensions brew. Walter takes advantage of this tension and convinces his nephew Brandon to help him overthrow Sheldon and Grace.
Millar is a master at placing so much dialogue and character development in a few pages. He builds up the conflict easily and gives all of the heroes enough panel time to give the reader more than a glimpse into the Sampson family dynamics. Many might find the social commentary to be a buzzkill, but many will find that Millar does a great job when it comes to the usual themes. Sheldon Sampson represents the “old” ideal. With great power comes the need for great responsibility. While Sheldon feels that their job as super humans is to help humanity in their time of need, Walter Sampson feels that super humans should just take charge and lead humanity into their golden age. Many of the new generation of heroes feel the same way Walter does. Since they have these gifts and no one else, they have the divine right to be in control and fix things by any means necessary.
I have been a fan of Quitely since All-Star Superman. Since then his work has gotten incredibly better. With Quitely, it’s the details that really bring the reader home. As the superheroes fight, Quitely even draws the pedestrians caught in the onslaught. It’s those details that really demonstrate how powerful these characters are. For many artists, even veterans, there is difficulty in making characters look the same especially when it comes to facial expressions. Sometimes it is difficult to tell if a character is angry or surprised. While this is a technical issue, when dealing with characters that are unfamiliar to a reader it brings down the overall quality of the breakdowns. There are scenes where Quitely avoids this minor snafu and really brings the emotions of the characters to life in each panel.
As of writing this review, there is also news that this story will also make it to the silver screen. It will be interesting to see how it all comes together. In the dialogue, Millar has some choice things to say about global politics. This is probably the most interesting part of the story. Sheldon Sampson’s alter ego is the Utopian. We can probably write an entire dissertation on that nugget alone. While this news may not be new or surprising to Millar fans, it demonstrates that his writing is something worth checking out.