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Jupiter’s Legacy and the Smell of Indifference

JupitersLegacy

Co-Creators Mark Millar (Writer) and Frank Quitely (with Peter Doherty on colors, letters, and design) have finally released their over-hyped creator owned title. I will attempt to maintain a neutral tone throughout the reviewOkay, so I may have failed just a *bit* at maintaining neutral! Full disclosure this was my first encounter with Mark Millar and I found it to be an unpleasant experience. You can read through the comments for an excellent defense of the issue, and for a slightly more in depth look at why this isn’t going to be my favorite series anytime soon.

Jupiter’s Legacy, in the first few panels tell the story of how the world’s first superheroes gained their powers. It is set back in the 1920’s, and the style of clothing, tone, and narrative are beautiful. This initial story of discovery, faith, and fighting for justice  is the story that I would like to read, instead it is the story that the rest of the issue is juxtaposed against. The main focus on Jupiter’s story is on the initial heroes’s children.

It seems like the disillusionment of superhero children has been tackled multiple times in the past few years. Superheroes were once meant to represent the best our culture had to offer; but as our culture has aged and many have become disillusioned with both American culture and the promises it offers to its people, it is difficult to determine what qualities a superhero of our current age would display.

But, I know these characters aren’t it.

The best moments of the issue is when the older superheroes are present, arguing about their moral responsibility to society . Should they mindlessly fight crime and follow government orders, or should they spend their time fixing the fundamental flaws of society itself in order to create a world where their powers wouldn’t be needed? An important question that perhaps more superheroes and their writers should ask. Their children’s complete ambivalence about participating in this debate, or helping their parents fight crime leaves for several dull moments in the book where their indifference is shown through their debauchery, a tired trope by the year 2013.

Is this a quality book? Yes, the Millar weaves a solid story, and Quitely’s art is beyond gorgeous. If the ennui of the rich, famous, and powered is something you enjoy reading about – by all means read this book. If you like Mark Millar and Wanted – by all means read this book. But if you want an interesting take on the children of superheroes,  or the role of superheroes in society, or an interesting new take on superheroes read something else.

By: Kate 

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4 comments on “Jupiter’s Legacy and the Smell of Indifference

  1. belleryphon15
    April 26, 2013

    A bit harsh, no? Don’t get me wrong, I do agree with you on your observations of what this issue talked about and you very insightfully pointed out the difference between the generations and what theirs surroundings molded them into. However, don’t you think that the juxtaposition you mentioned is fetal at this moment? Yes the children of these superheroes are debauch and indolent, but that is the world they grew up in. I think it was Brandon Sampson (don’t quote me) that observed that all the good supervillains had been put down before they were born. All they knew growing up was people idolizing them and sucking up to them because of who their parents are. That is hyper-realism. When you imagine the things that WOULD occur if that was the world you were born into this issue’s depiction of the young generation rings infinitely true. The Great Depression on the other hand was what shaped the Utopian and his fellows and gave them a reason to do what they have done since 1932. You seemed to judge them favorable. Like Walter said while he and Utopian had their philosophical debate, the world is reverting to how things were in ’29 when the government didn’t reign in the banks and institutions began failing. I totally see this in terms of an Evelyn Waugh novel that was made into a really great movie, both entitled “Bright Young Things.” It was about the excess of the 20’s and 30’s and the British youth that were debauch and useless who sprung from that era. At one point a cabby missing one arm who fought in WWI said, “You kids need a war to straighten you out.” Sure enough, WWII breaks out and the main characters’ lives crash down around them and they are forced to reevaluate what life is and what exactly their purpose is in it. THAT is what this issue sets up. There is foreshadowing that these kids are going to have to step up to the plate. Walter foreshadowed it with his mention of the parallels between 2013 and 1929. Brandon foreshadowed it with his mention of all the good fights being fought. And if I am correct in my assumption of Chloe’s passing out at the end of the issue, she might be in the midst of a premonition, not unlike her father had when he discovered the island. That last one is just a guess, but her passing out is fishy and portends something important happening, not just a bad trip on whatever they were snorting. This issue did a good job establishing a base from which change is inevitable. Can you concede that while it is disgusting and abhorrent, that may be the point and what this series is going to transition from? Brandon and Chloe’s lifestyle is diametrically different from my own, but if you REALLY look at the parents they have, how society treats them, i.e. guys cozying up to Chloe in order to get her mom’s phone number, that would eff a kid up. Millar isn’t one to pull his punches and gives very realistic commentaries on the real world through the superhero and comic genres. I think you should give the series a chance to mature before you condemn it too harshly. It had some very poignant moments and Frank Quitely’s art is top echelon.

  2. comicreviewers
    April 26, 2013

    With Millar, the problem I have is that the “grittiness” is often used in order to make it seem more realistic, which I’m not sure this is. I can concede that this might be how some of the kids would turn out. I certainly don’t expect them to turn out quite like the kids in the movie Sky High. However, I think our society shows us that while there are some Lindsey Lohans, there are also many famous people who grew up in the spotlight that that have maintained a strong semblance of normalcy. I think considering their parents is a double-edge thing. One the one hand, their parents are intensely famous and there are plenty of people who will cozy up to the children to get to the parents. However, I feel like that should at least partially be balanced out by the role-models they have as parents.

    Of course, we are talking about superheros here and not just famous actors and actresses which does add in another dimension. All superhero comics ask us to suspend our disbelief. As cool as it may seem, clearly there are no superheroes in the world. When a superhero comic asks me to suspend my disbelief for the heroes, but then tries to make the book realistic, it sometimes feels like the book is at odds with itself. You’re supposed to suspend your disbelief because there are superheroes flying around but simultaneously embrace that it is somehow a realistic representation.

    I wouldn’t agree yet that this is a particularly realistic view of the world through superhero comics. So far I think it is a stylized version of “reality” that relies on the grittiness to validate the real. Again, the most realistic moment for me came when Sheldon and Walter were arguing about the purposes of superheroes after defeating Blackstar. That argument would make sense to me in any comic, and in any reality in where superheroes existed. That scene was very poignant, and Frank Quitely’s art is top-notch.

    I also agree that this was most likely meant to be a starting out point, I assume the plot of the series will be both the redemption of the children and the fragmentation of the adults. But, to me personally this would be like reading Lindsey Lohan’s tale of redemption. She might get there, and it might be a well told story, but I really wouldn’t want to expose myself to it….unless they all became radical social activists….but I think there’s too much privilege to deal with here for that result.

    • belleryphon15
      April 30, 2013

      I agree that grittiness can be off putting and sometimes counterintuitive to message of a stroyline. But at the same time it can be integral as well to establishing that there are no kid gloves in this situation. I feel, although I admit that I am going on faith here, that this series is using the grit as a means of depicting consequence. As a result of one action or lack of action, this pretty gnarly thing happens.

      I think a misconception, or perhaps an unfound assumption is that the older generation were good parents. From the way the Utopian and his wife Grace talk about their kids it sounds like they are perhaps overly critical of them, which can be crippling for youths, especially when the concensus view of society is that they are godlike and their opinions matter. Walter even points out in that dialectic discourse that both of us seemed to enjoy so well that not wanting to engage in violent action isn’t a sign of weakness on their part. So their parents pretty much are setting up very rigid parameters for what Brandon and Chloe have to do to earn their approval. That is textbook psychology 101 for creating a hostile relationship in a young person to inspire rebellion. The more rigid the expectations the further the angsty youth will usually go to assert their own identity. Is this an absolute? Of course not. However, if you look at teen drug users and juvenile delinquents, there are a substnatial amount of cases where the offenders weren’t raised in households where criminal activity was prevalent, but rather overly strict, politically and religiously conservative backgrounds. So, again, Millar seems to be showing the consequences of the hubris in the latter generation. Fighting these villains appears to be the be-all-and-end-all of their existence as is fixing society, that their children and their wants and needs seem to fall through the cracks. Chloe do philanthropic work because it will make her mother “happy” (as pointed out by Brandon), because she is into nonviolence (as she states at the end when snorting coke-like drugs with her friends) and can’t win her mother’s love through “super-heroic” violence.

      In terms of suspending disbelief, that’s just a convention inherent in nonrealistic fiction in general. There is no caviat that if something isn’t realistic it can’t say something meaningful. I may be misunderstanding you statement, but to me the point is that its too confusing to know what to suspend and what not to suspend. Flying and laser vision are props to the storyline. The psychological trauma these young adults have grown up experiencing as well as the cultural enui are the moral subjects. The whole use of superhero comics when tackling important issues is the use of allegory and metaphor. Superheros are allegorical substitutes for politicians, actors, singers, scientists, etc. People whose work is so all encompassing (and beneficial to be sure) that they hurt those around them through unrealistic expections or simply through apathy.

      I think all the points you are making come from well founded beliefs, but where I find myself disagreeing lies in context. I’ve tried to base mine off of evidence in words and actions by characters. Are there any pieces of dialogue or interpretable actions by the characters you are using to draw your conclusions? I hope I am not coming off as condemning, because I am actually enjoying this back and forth. I actually became aware of some aspects of the issue that ring truer after rationalizing my responses to your queries.

  3. comicreviewers
    May 7, 2013

    My issue is bagged, boarded, and in a moving box right now, so we’ll probably just have to see how it unravels in the next few issues!

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