Jupiter’s Legacy, Vol. 1 by Mark Millar and Frank Quitely
1932: Sheldon Sampson’s dreams about a mysterious source of power lead him, his brother Walter, and a group of loyal followers on a quest around the world. What they discover sets them on a course that will wrench a family apart and alter the world’s political stage!
Decades after their journey, Sheldon and Walter are superpowered legends, world renowned for their heroism. But the offspring trained to live in their image have fallen desperately short. Rocked by one public scandal after another, Chloe and her brother Brandon are a dishonor to the generation before them. The rift reaches its breaking point when one branch of the family overthrows the government and struggles to rule at any cost – while the others must flee for their own safety. But when the failures of the corrupt leaders catch up to them, the world hovers on the brink of collapse – and the hidden heroes must emerge to take back their legacy!
I’ve read a lot of Mark Millar books over the years. And like millions of people, I’ve seen a few movies based on his work. I haven’t fallen head over heels for it, but it’s a solid bet that any new project will be worth checking out.
Add Frank Quitely’s art to an already dependable storyteller and you have what seems like a sure thing. All-Star Superman and We3 are among my favorite comics of all time. He’s a blessing and a curse because his work is beautiful, but his involvement can delay schedules.
Luckily, this is already a trade and they plan to finish the series before releasing the second arc on a predictable schedule. I’d say it’d be worth the wait, though.
This is a sprawling global story told via the interpersonal relationships of a single family. In the midst of the Great Depression, Sheldon Sampson received a vision of an uncharted island and, like Carl Denham, arranges an expedition to find it with his friends. He believes they’ll find the key to saving America, or at least helping the nation he loves through a rough patch.
Flash forward eighty years. Sheldon and his confraternity are aging heroes. It’s not clear what role they played on the world stage, but it seems like the appearance of superbeings has had little practical effect. America has suffered another economic downturn. His brother Walter is agitating for intervention, but Sampson is having none of it.
With an aquila shield emblazoned on his chest, curly hair and beard, The Utopian could not embody imperial patriarchy and the eponymous Jupiter more. And yet he sees his role as one of service and protection. He’s living the American Dream.
The trouble is that that’s easy when you can survive in a vacuum.
It’s not so easy for the second and third generations begat by these titans. Their offspring grew up in a world where their parents removed all the threats worthy of their attention, and missed out on the formative years while doing it. Seeking distraction and meaning, they struggle for attention and relevance.
The Sampson family’s problems spill onto the world stage and hold a dark mirror up to late capitalism in the United States. How far will people go to protect their ideals and their loved ones. What are they capable of in the service of their greater good?
Millar’s work is usually about incredibly violent people, but it’s always about people. It’s never been more about the relationships between parent and child, brother and sister, and the family you choose for yourself. And it’s deftly woven into a story about truth, justice, and the American way.
Can that most treasured cliche be saved?
Recommended for fans of Millar & Quitely’s Authority run, Watchmen, and Othello.