Comic Review: JUPITER’S CIRCLE

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JUPITER’S CIRCLE #/ Written by MARK MILLAR/ Art by WILFREDO TORRES/ Colors by IVE SVORCINA/ Letters by PETER DOHERTY/ Edited by NICOLE BOOSE/ Published by IMAGE COMICS

As fans of superhero saga, Jupiter’s Legacy eagerly await the release date for Volume 2, series writer Mark Millar is doing his best to make the wait bearable by penning a prequel series – Jupiter’s Circle.

Set in the USA circa 1959, Circle stars The Utopian, Lady Liberty and other first generation super humans in their prime, long before the dramatic events depicted in Legacy. The real star in issue one, however, is Blue Bolt, whose status as one of America’s champions is threatened by one history’s most notorious blackmail artists. Hint: his name rhymes with J. Edgar Hoover.

In Jupiter’s Circle, Millar manages to both play with tropes of Julius Schwartz’s Justice League Of America (there’s even a space octopus playing the role of Starro The Conqueror), while also adding Hollywood scandal and sexual persecution to the mix. While comparisons to Watchmen are inevitable, Jupiter’s Circle actually hews closer in tone to James Robinson and Paul Smith’s seminal series The Golden Age in its ability to deftly juxtapose heroic deeds with relatable foibles and passions.

Prone to everything-but-the-kitchen-sink storytelling, Millar is at his best when working within the specific milieu of Silver Age wonder, as seen in his runs on Superman Adventures and The Flash; the fact that he’s incorporated believable human drama within Circle as well only serves to create a richer story.

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Smartly, Jupiter’s Circle has developed a distinct visual identity, one that still manages to complement Frank Quitely’s incomparable art on its parent series. Wilfredo Torres’ clean and crisp art is perfectly suited for a story set in the Eisenhower era, recalling greats like Alex Toth and Bruno Premiani with a twist of David Mazzucchelli for good measure. The purposefully flat colors by Ive Scorcina also serve to recall the comics aesthetics of the era, and are reminiscent of the masterful technique Laura Allred uses over her husband Mike’s own retro-modern renderings.

While reading Jupiter’s Legacy provides additional texture, Circle confidently stands on its own. It goes farther with the superhero-as-celebrity theme than its predecessor/sequel, resulting in a final product that reads as nothing less than a metahuman Fade Out. Highly recommended.

Rating 4

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