The first issue of Jupiter’s Legacy was a generation gap drama made super. The parents don’t understand the kids, the kids don’t understand the parents, each can level a city block with an eyebrow. Two months later, the second issue continues to play that out, but suddenly goes all Shakespeare on us. In that the family strife gets political, as people jostle for positions of power, despite already being blessed with such amazing abilities.
There are politics of another kind, as the inequality of wealth, power, influence of the masses versus the few is reflected in the superhero community too. Humans, no matter how rich, are helpless against the most drunken superpowered angst ridden kid, even when they are string out on a hospital bed, we feel how fragile the world must be to them.
And equally, whatever the superpower plays between each characters we are aware of the financially divided society and failing world economics. Beautifully, effectively portrayed by Quitely and Doherty. There is such a simplicity here, with framing of images, with portraying a scene, that is then richened by detail. The use of architecture along tells so much.
But it’s the interplay between the two realities that really lifts this book for me, over the usual shock value of extreme violence, callousness and indifference of characters. Filled with a number of unpleasant individuals, some with purpose, some who have just fallen into this position, this comic asks lots of questions about politics and the role of the powerful. Of the benign dictator and a failing democracy. And how uneasy lies the head that wears the crown.
But amidst the spear shaking, there’s some honest to goodness soap opera concerns, that fit closer to the likes of Hollyoaks or Days Of Our Lives. And they don’t need to be any more complex than that, they serve as a very human juxtaposition to the House Of Cards power plays. It’s a difficult balancing act, and they do seem to jar a little. But I think it’s setting up something else.
The super powered political scenes are well timed for me, watching the US and rewatching the UK House Of Cards series have really put me in the mood for that kind of thing. After all Francis Underwood was Lex Luthor, wasn’t he?
At the heart of modern American politics there seem to be two points of view, or certainly that’s how it’s portrayed. One that says government intervention can fix things, and one that says it can only make it worse. Millar rejects that dichotomy in Jupiter’s Legacy, with one side of the book not so much saying that it would make things worse, but that it shouldn’t be done on a moral level, that increasing government growth and power is a bad thing, even if it achieved happiness, health and wealth for all.
It’s the absolute problem with the superhero issue, why characters don’t deal with the bigger issues in the world. It’s been tackled many times before, but here it gets personal, brother fighting brother over ideology, with the kids not caring one way or the other, but being useful pawns.
Which does mean a lot of people standing around talking, split up by a series of very visual events, the ship, the sharks, the nudity, that burst through the narrative. The balance is more effective than when Bendis usually does it in Avengers, but people who have problems with that kind of comic, may have issues with this comic too, more so than with issue one.
But me, I’m really enjoying this comic, in the same way I’m enjoying Supurbia. Which, you know, you should also read…
Jupiter’s Legacy #2 by Mark Millar, Frank Quitely, Peter Doherty and Rob Miller is published by Image Comics next week.