Zeus Rules!

Jupiter’s Legacy Book One by Mark Millar and Frank Quitely, Peter Doherty. Image, 2015. 9781632153104. Contains Jupiter’s Legacy #1 – #5. Publisher’s Rating: M / Mature.

Jupiter’s Legacy Book Two by Mark Millar and Frank Quitely, Peter Doherty, Suny Gho. Image, 2017 9781632158895. Contains Jupiter’s Legacy 2 #1 – #5. Publisher’s Rating: M / Mature.

I read a lot more superhero comics than I’m comfortable admitting to most people. Most of them just aren’t worth talking about. Even if you like Marvel movies or made it all the way through Nolan’s Batman movie trilogy, you probably shouldn’t try most of them. They’re for fans who know about each publisher’s annual universal crossover events and can talk about the histories of characters and teams and whatnot. They are, I will admit, more than a little ridiculous. But some of them, like Jupiter’s Legacy, are so good they deserve a wider audience.

After the Depression, a group of young Americans were gifted with superpowers, and they used them to usher in a Golden Age. Sure, the most powerful among them, the Utopian, was a bit of a controlling do-gooder, but things were great. And then the heroes had kids, and those kids weren’t so great. The most powerful of the second generation were narcissistic drunks and drug addicts more worried about their PR and endorsement contracts than anything else. And the Utopian’s brother was tired of being told he couldn’t change the world. So one day he and most of the rest of the heroes, with the help of the Utopian’s damaged son, took out the Utopian and his super powerful wife (in a few very brutal scenes) and started to change the world. The Utopian’s daughter went into hiding with her drug dealing, son-of-a-super-villain boyfriend to have their child in secret. The world turned into a police state. Anyone with powers was hunted.

Raising a super-powered son in secret is tough, especially when he’s a genius. And it’s harder when he secretly starts helping people. He wants to take down his uncle, but he can’t quite talk his parents into it. Hhen his heroing attracts the attention of the authorities, and his parents have no choice but to try to save the world with him.

There’s so much to love here, from the pacing of the story to the dialogue to the art and the colors. It’s all flawless and moves at just the right pace. If you’ve read a lot of superhero books, you’ll recognize the tropes the story plays with. If you haven’t, you’ll be introduced to them in the best way and you’ll love it. There’s a prequel series and more to come in this story, but these two books are complete in and of themselves. They’re worth reading, if only to round out what you can call on when you’re doing reader’s advisory. (Millar recently sold his company to Netflix, so I’m hoping there’s a great adaptation of these books in the works. Millar wrote the graphic novels the movies Kingsmen: The Secret Service, Wanted, and Kick Ass are based on, so you’ll be ahead of the curve on any new movies.)

Bonus: Frank Quitely is one of the best artists working in comics today. You can see him create a single page from Book One in this episode of the BBC’s What Do Artists Do All Day.

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