Monday, April 29, 2013

Jupiter’s Legacy #1 – A Review Part 1 of 4 of the Week of April 24 in Review

This was the best book that I read this week. Of course if may not be the best book out because I can only review what I have read. If you read something else and you thought it was better and I never read the book I have no clue whether we would disagree or not.

Before I jump into the review I owe you links for next week’s list. The clean and simple list is at Cosmic Comix (my store via mail order now) and Midtown Comics for all the details. At 29 books it is still a large list for me, still only 4 are straight DCU books, 6 Marvel and other 19 (including Vertigo).  The top five appear to be Hawkeye, Ten Grand, Polarity, Suicide Risk and Mars Attacks. Not the strongest week looking forward but lots of books that look good.

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Back to Jupiter’s Legacy, I’m fascinated by this book by Mark Millar and Frank Quietly (actually he should go to his real name now of Vincent Deighan) for many reasons. I started life as a CPA and work for Citibank for many years. That serves as a prelude as to why the dollar and cents side of the business is so fascinating to me. This book is Mark Millar taking his first Millarworld book to Image and abandoning the Icon Imprint. I have to assume that Brubaker’s success in jumping over to Image lead to Mark’s decision to do the same thing. The orders for this book were extremely high and it may well end up atop the sales charts for April.

There are many reasons why I believe this is significant. First this cements Image as the place to be for creator owned books. It also shows other higher profile creators that they can make real money off a creator owned title and not just look to break even. Having more then Kirkman have a break out book and without it being backed by a TV show is huge. Secondly this is yet another nail in the coffin for Marvel and DC. If Mark Millar, Frank Quietly, Greg Rucka, Ed Brubaker, Michael Lark, Sean Phillips, Jonathan Hickman, Grant Morrison, Brian K. Vaughn are making enough money off their own work, the check from Marvel and DC become either less important or they leave the companies. The talent drain is noticeable especially with some of the lack of quality art on DC books. Marvel and DC are becoming a platform for many people to build up name recognition before moving on. I also see this as being a potential kick in the pants to Marvel and DC to perhaps up their game and understand building a partnership is a better way to go then control of whatever they publish. I doubt that will ever happen with mega corporations running the show at those companies.  Finally Mark is being very creator friendly by giving his artists co-creator credit and ownership. It recognizes how much the artist adds to the creative process of a new comic and it vests the artist in producing their best work. Work ethic and integrity aside, anyone naturally puts more effort into something in which they have ownership. All of this leads to a profitable making venture and makes creator owned more and more attractive.

This also leads to another discussion of why creators are never going to bring their new ideas to Marvel or DC, there is limited to no money in doing that anymore. This means that the big two are stuck with what they have and the slow and inevitable fact is that nothing new will be seen with most of these characters. We will have some great runs on these characters by creators, but no one is going to introduce the next Wolverine when the company owns and controls the character 100%. A creator is going to try and do those stories on their own and at this moment launch it through Image.

You also have to admire Millar as a marketing genius. He manages to turn every project into an event. Not only is he producing comics, but since having gained an inroad in Hollywood he is constantly producing a comic and working on making it into a possible movie. He will play the variant cover card if he has too also. I laughed when I read he is not releasing this as a digital book for a few months after the print comic is released. He is playing an old school trick of trying to force the hands of the group sitting on the couch waiting to download a book. By producing a great first issue and not releasing it to the digital market he is going to get part of the digital only crowd to go out to a comic book store. Retailers should be thrilled with Millar at this point.

As to the actual comic book itself, wow what a great f**king story. Mark Millar and Frank Quietly just knocked it out of the park. First and foremost Frank is one of my favorite comic book artists. His women are drop dead gorgeous, all of his characters are distinct, his story telling is superb, his ability to display emotion with body language and facial expression top notch. The colors by Peter Doherty add to the quality of Frank’s work with flat tones that imparts realism to an unreal world of super heroes. The book is a piece of art.

The story is a very cool idea as it takes the idea of an event imparting super powers to a group of friends who are followers of one man. The story then jumps ahead to today and sees how their children have fared as the super powered next generation. What we see is this next generation reek of the same attitudes and lack of responsibility that our own society’s elite children. The parents, who are now close to 100 years old, have little tolerance for these n’er do wells.  They are essentially self obsessed wastrels more interested in their next high then helping out.

The first issue offers us the mystery of how they the first generation got their powers. All we see is them finding a mysterious island and then we cut to today. Next we want to know what is going on with the next generation of super people. Their parents appear to have everything well in hand, so they are almost lost. We also have the inevitable argument of why are super heroes just beating up other super bad guys and not working to make the world itself better. The argument is between the two most powerful members of the super hero group in how to proceed as most super menaces have now been defeated. Last we have a possible murder mystery as one of the children appears to OD on a drug.  Each of those story lines as well as just learning more about these characters lends this book to be an almost unlimited series or one hell of a jam pack limited series.

The other thing this book brought home for me is how much DC threw away when they got rid of all the legacy aspect of the DCU with their re-launch two years ago, something I plan to explore more in Part 2.

Now I think this series has the potential to be one of the best books out there, but I have to temper my enthusiasm with it also being written by Mark Millar. Millar often goes in for excess for the sake of excess. Mark’s work is often derivative and he loves to focus on generational hand offs. I hope we get a lot more then his normal themes and that maybe this series represents a maturation of his story telling. At this point Mark is well off enough that he can play more to his own muse as opposed to doing what he knows to be 100% commercial.  

Buy two and give one to a friend.

Part 2 later today. 

1 comment:

  1. I thought this was great too and I don't think I've seen a single "JC" in either this book or East of West (let's see how long that lasts). The best thing about tying the artist in with the creator credit -- NO FILL-INS!!!