For a genre that constantly references and recreates itself, comic book superhero books do seem to be continually stuck in the past. Mark Millar’s Jupiter’s Circle is the tale of Golden Age-style superheroes flying around punching alien menaces in 1950s’ America. It also dives into gritty ‘real world’ drama by exploring the personal lives of the heroes. For example, the first story is about a hero who happens to be gay during the McCarthy era.
Jupiter’s Circle is meant to be a prequel to Millar’s more popular (and better known) post-modern superhero book, Jupiter’s Legacy. Both books are essential superhero soap operas; yes, there’s two-fisted villain punching, but mostly it’s about the personal lives of the heroes. It’s easy to dismiss Jupiter’s Circle; after all, Kurt Busiek has covered all this ground in Astro City.However, when the Circle is paired with Legacy we start to get a clearer picture of the many, many cracks in the character’s psyche. The sins of the parents passed down to a younger and more powerful generation is an obvious theme of the book. These are strong themes, but Legacy does it all better and in a more memorable way.
Wilfredo Torres is the artist on the project and he captures the simple lines and powerful images of classic four-colour heroes beautifully. Each page feels like it’s come from an older, less complex time, making it very easy for the reader to immerse themselves in the story. The art is good, but it’s not Frank Quitely, who does some of the cover art of the book. This serves as a bit of a reminder that Jupiter’s Legacy is a prettier book.
It’s hard to shake the feeling that Jupiter’s Circle is nothing more than a lighter, more marketable version of some of the best bits from The Watchmen. The various scandals and adventures in the book are all well and good but this is nothing remarkable. We don’t have enough time to care about the characters, and only those who have read Jupiter’s Legacy will have any investment at all.
Jupiter’s Circle is a great pitch for a movie, but not such a great comic book. One for the Mark Millar fans only.
JUPITER’S CIRCLE VOLUME 1 / WRITER: MARK MILLAR / ARTIST: WILFREDO TORRES / PUBLISHER: IMAGE COMICS / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW