Mark Millar's always been a good idea-man, but there are definitely some of his creations where the execution has been stronger than others. In the case of "Jupiter's Legacy" #1, I think it's safe to say that Millar and Frank Quitely's new creation is tackling familiar territory, but its debut is easily Millar's strongest new comic in a long time.
The idea is simple enough; a vision of an island in the 1930s takes Sheldon Sampson and some of his friends to a place that should not exist. By the present day, Sheldon Sampson and company have formed a dynasty of superheroes, with the youngest generation starting to chafe at the values and responsibilities being instilled upon them by their elders. It's a lot of setup in this first issue, as Millar and Quitely introduce the expansive cast.
At a glance, "Jupiter's Legacy" #1 is standard Millar fare. When one of the young heroes is introduced as hedonism incarnate, it's easy to trace back to other, similar characters from Millar. Lines about meeting superhero groupies in the bathroom and ingesting massive amounts of drugs are hardly out of place in his overall library of works. It's important, though, to take a longer and more careful look at "Jupiter's Legacy" #1. The opening sequence set in 1932 is written in a quiet, thoughtful manner. I like the distinctly different tone that Millar uses; it's not bombastic or in-your-face, but has a subtlety that I will admit I don't normally associate with Millar. Sheldon's narration is a nice way to ease us into the story, and I appreciated that sequence in a way that had me genuinely interested in the series by the time it was over.
While the rest of the comic is a bit more along what readers have grown to expect from Millar, there are nice moments peppered throughout it, too. Walter's conversation to Blackstar after he captures him stands out, in part because of the calm and almost apologetic nature of the script. It's a nice, different approach to a fight scene, and it gives me hope that the series in general will continue to approach normal superhero cliches from a slightly different and more elegant angle.
Elegant is certainly a word used for Quitely's art, for that matter. When Blackstar plunges into Walter's prison, it's hard to not just soak in the way that Quitely draws that panel and its three-part structure; the outer border as rough pencils, the middle with inks and light colors, the center with fully processed colors and effects. It not only shows the method in which a comic panel goes from start to finish, it also slides the reader's eye down a proverbial rabbit hole until you reach the center.
The fashions of "Jupiter's Legacy" are well worth noting. Quitely has two different generations to tackle, and I like how the older superheroes are in more traditional, classic takes on what a superhero would wear. Compare them to Lionel's bright red and yellow bodysuit, which feels more like something you'd see in an avant-garde runway show; sleek and fashionable at the same time. That whole scene in general is well thought-out, for that matter; when Chloe collapses into the coffee table, the shards of glass fall in with her in a manner that almost cradles her body. Once again, it's a way to guide the reader's eye with the way that the pieces point in towards the center, but it's also an entrancing pattern that almost reminds me of a dreamcatcher or a mandala without being an overt shape.
Credit also goes to Peter Doherty, whose colors are carefully chosen. I love the limited use of blues and tans for the 1932 sequence, and how as soon as we jump to the present day we get bright reds to immediately jolt us into a more modern era. It's a series of choices that are well-executed, and Doherty's art enhances Quitely's. It's nice to see a pair working so strongly in sync.
"Jupiter's Legacy" #1 is a strong debut, one that has me far more interested than I'd have expected. While there's still a lot of world-building still to come, I feel like Millar and Quitely are on the right track. "Jupiter's Legacy" is elegantly written and drawn by Millar and Quitely; this is a book to be proud of.