Jupiter’s Legacy Vol. #1 collects the comics, issue 1-5, by Mark Millar with artwork by Frank Quitely. It is, in a simple sound bite; a Shakespearian family tragedy with world changing proportions. It begs the question, what would happen if super heroes decided that they knew what was best for mankind and then began to enforce their beliefs on the rest of the world? The result is a violent and deadly dictatorship.
It is 1932 and Sheldon Sampson believes he is about to find an ultimate source of power. Taking along his brother Walter and a group of loyal followers, they discover a power that changes them into super-powered human beings. Decades have passed and Sheldon has taken the name of Utopian. He and his family have become the greatest superheroes the world has seen. But envy and greed have entered into his brother Walter’s heart as Utopian decrees that they cannot meddle in human affairs. Walter believes that it is best if he guides the world to do what he believes is best. Setting economic and foreign policies for the entire world. As the next generation of the family comes to be, Walter sees his opportunity in the bitterness and anger of Utopian’s own children. Brandon and Chloe.
Walter poisons Brandon’s mind and together they stage a coup of the superheroes. As they plan and execute the murder of both Utopian and his wife. Chloe, witnessing the murder of her mother escapes with her lover and unborn child and with the few other superheroes who do not follow Walter and Brandon. Afraid they all go into hiding. Under Walter and Brandon’s consistent failures as leaders, the world is now on the brink of collapsing. Chloe’s son, fed with the stories of his super grandparents, decides he must act for the good of mankind. Now Walter knows of his existence and acts to silence the child. Chloe, knowing her child is in danger, finally fights back.
This is Macbeth, this is Henry the VII, this is every powerful family that has been, turning in on itself. This is grandiose and intimate all at the same time. Chloe goes from irresponsible party girl to mother and then to world savior and you believe every panel of it. This is Mark Millar at his best and at the top of his craft.
This is a comic book, get over it.
You may not read a better story in any format for sometime.
The scene where all the other superheroes turn on Utopian and attack him is wrenching, when Brandon steps up at the end and performs the coup de grace, he becomes the ultimate in a super villain. The son who kills the father. Even at that point you can tell Utopian is not believing it is happening. The murder of Chloe’s mother in front of her by her uncle Walter is horrible as one can imagine. The final scene where Chloe stands her ground, protecting her son:
BARNABAS: “Oh, Chloe! Look at you now! Smoked out of hiding to save your little boy…well, it looks like you’ve bitten off more than you can chew my dear. There’s hundreds of us here an more on the way. Do you really think some useless party girl stands a chance against us?”
CHOLE: “Things have changed, Barnabas. I’m not a little girl anymore. My mom was a superhero, my dad was a superhero…that means I won this fight before you got out of bed.”
Millar has written an exemplary tale here. Certainly he has borrowed from other comics and classics. It is after all a classic tale of envy, betrayal and family dysfunction. Quitely’s artwork is as always, a perfect compliment to Millar’s storytelling.
Jupiter’s Legacy is a very good read.