Walter Sampson’s wolf heads to Australia to hunt down Chloe, Hutch, and any other Super he can find along the way.
Like a scene fit for a superpowered Office Space, Barnabas Wolfe calls in for questioning one Joan Wilson, an unassuming woman who has the perfect answer for each of Wolfe’s queries. Just as the round of questions ends, Wolfe reveals his powerset — he’s been quietly creating knockout gas by rearranging molecules in the air. Wondering aloud why everyone but the two of them are out cold, Wilson realizes her cover’s blown and jumps out the office window.
In just the span of a few pages, Jupiter’s Legacy #5 showcases the snap, crackle, and pop that made the first few issues of the series so great. The spark in Mark Millar’s writing which was sorely missed in the humdrum and uninspired issue #4 makes a welcome return to an issue loaded with purpose and momentum.
After Wilson — aka Shelley Weaver, aka Skyscraper — lands on her feet by embiggening, she tries to escape by foot until the master of molecules Wolfe literally creates binds out of thin air and captures his quarry. Weaver’s capture nets Walter’s side a tiny victory, but Wolfe seems to treat it like an exercise — a warmup for the big takedown. Hoping to draw out the mysterious Australian superhero, Wolfe prepares a trap.
Jason, in the meanwhile, travels to the moon where he’s put together a device, a la Cerebro, that will help him track down and recruit hidden Supers for a battle against Uncle Brandon’s regime. Chloe won’t have it, and she orders Jason to dismantle the device before sending him to school. On the bus ride, bullies continue their daily routine of ganging up on the superlad until a classmate, privy to Jason’s extracurriculars, tells him about a bridge collapsing. Following in his grandfather’s footsteps, so to speak, Jason bolts towards the Harbour Bridge and gets zapped by Wolfe’s neural blast.
Like a mama bear coming to her cub’s aid, Chloe appears, and escalation, escalation, violent and explosive escalation. Having been underestimated her entire life, the party girl gets to prove she’s her father’s daughter, going toe to toe with Barnabas and smashing through his barriers. Hutch makes it a company by teleporting onto the scene with a train in motion that plows over Wolfe’s troops. The fight gets broadcast live, and just when it looks like the family has been outnumbered, Chloe lets out a burst of unrestrained force that instantly levels the battlefield and gives her an opportunity to unleash a fatality on Wolfe. With that, a statement is made to the entire world, and the family vanishes.
Where issue #4 felt simple and straightforward to a fault, Jupiter’s Legacy #5 feels loaded with details and themes.
First, there’s Jason, the aspiring hero who’s become an inspiration to his own family. Jason’s youth, uninhibited by fear or years of trial and error resulting in traumatic experiences, doesn’t have a score to keep — rather than keep an account of grudges and rivalries, he’s focused on coming up with solutions for the here and now. From his point of view, it makes total sense to team up with supervillains who are well versed in rebelling against the powers that be, challenging the status quo, and waiting for the perfect moment to do a lot of damage. That the world would be so upside down adds several layers to a thoughtful story.
And with Millar making it a point to highlight Chloe in this issue, Jupiter’s Legacy becomes much more than a Superboy book. Not that I’m against Jason being the main character, but bringing Chloe back to the forefront of the story brings everything into contact with its true foundation, to the center point of relevancy — its heart. If Jason represents the hope to come, then Chloe is the wayward soul in need of redemption. For years, Chloe and Hutch have sacrificed all of their aspirations and dreams for family, and issue #5 brings a reckoning. Wolfe represents the big bad come take their child — a monster they never fed, but it was one that grew in the absence of a superior predator. Instead of building a better world for their child, Chloe and Hutch forced Jason to stay within the lines and conform. Now that they’ve seen what happens to someone who dares to go above and beyond in search of something better, they’re much the wiser. Again, there are some parallels to The Incredibles, but it doesn’t mean Jupiter’s Legacy has gone full-tilt into derivative territory. It’s a natural plot point that becomes more pronounced knowing what we know about young Chloe — that was she unable to handle the pressure and that she deemed herself unworthy of the previous generation’s offerings.
And so we realize what made the Utopian so great and so weak. Superpowers don’t make a hero or a father, and where he succeeded in one by protecting a nation with his abilities, he failed in the other because his children somehow got away from him. Chloe’s development rides on her understanding of what it means to protect those you love and to fight against a world that would do them harm — and she finally understands her father’s motivations and purpose on an intrinsic level.
While I’ve spent the majority of these paragraphs going over the story, it would be a crime to end this review without talking about the artwork.
If we’re talking musically, Jupiter’s Legacy with its pounding tension and vicious violence plays a bit more like metal. Frank Quitely’s artwork shreds without a sense of restraint. Each punch, blast, and wrecking ball train has consequences resulting in life and death. You don’t know who’s going to be left standing when the dust clears, and each panel comes with bated breath because it could be the last you’ll see of a certain character. I loved seeing Chloe take it to Wolfe — she clears a squad of soldiers before blasting through one of his constructed barriers. Breaking through, she lands two punches on Wolfe’s mug, and you can feel the tremors.
Quitely keeps the backgrounds pretty simple for the most part, keeping scenes clean and clear as characters fill the spaces with expressions and body language. Faces show you what characters feel, and you get a widescreen view of the action by way of Quitely’s page-width panels.
Peter Doherty’s colors — particularly the reds and blues — jump off the page. The lighting is brilliant in stark contrast with the darker subject matter — as compared to, say, a DC comic which strives for nitty and gritty. Jupiter’s Legacy at first glance looks almost cheerful belying the incredibly serious plotting.
I don’t know when the next Jupiter’s Legacy book will come out, and I hope it won’t be long. Issue #5 marks the end of Book One, and while it seems an awkward time for an intermission, I’m hoping the next book contains at least as much energy as the best moments of these past five issues.
The legacy is strong, and it’s time for a recruiting drive. Will Book Two begin years in the future as the rebellion hits its peak, or will Walter prove too intelligent to let power slip from his fingers?
Jupiter’s Legacy #5 (2013)
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Words: Mark Millar
Art: Frank Quitely
Colors: Peter Doherty
Letters: Peter Doherty
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