Every week I write about the most interesting new comics hitting comic shops, bookstores, digital, and the web. Feel free to comment below if there's a comic you've read recently that you want to talk about or an upcoming comic that you'd like me to consider highlighting.
1. Jupiter’s Legacy Vol. 1
By Mark Millar, Frank Quitely, Peter Doherty
Superheroes depicted as near-omnipotent beings that impose their will on society in well-meaning but tragic ways is an old trope, dating back at least to the 1980s with books like Miracleman and Watchmen. This realistic but grim approach got refreshed spectacularly in 1999 with the game-changing The Authority by Warren Ellis and Bryan Hitch. Ellis and Hitch would soon pass the reins of the title to Mark Millar and Frank Quitely, who took superheroes into real-world politics with a disturbing level of violence that hadn't been seen before. Millar and Quitely reunited in 2013 to return to this concept of superheroes trying to bring about utopian society with a new story called Jupiter’s Legacy.
The first of two volumes of Jupiter’s Legacy hits stores this week, collecting the five issues that have been sporadically released to date (both Millar and Quitely are famous for oft-delayed comics). It is the story of a group of friends/explorers who gained superpowers in 1932 (the year Action Comics #1 was published) are now the parents of adult, super-powered children who resent them. When one of the aged heroes tries to use this resentment to rally the younger generation to facilitate a power-grab and impose his utopian plans on the world, everything ends up going to hell.
Jupiter’s Legacy is a compelling read thanks especially to the artwork of Quitely, who is one of the finest artists working in superhero comics right now. While this is a more mature work than The Authority, it treads some of the same ground by featuring graphic depictions of the horror that could exist if petulant, power-hungry people in the real world had super abilities. Here’s a preview of a great scene from volume 1.
2. Jupiter’s Circle #1
By Mark Millar, Wilfredo Torres, and Ive Svorcina
With Mark Millar and Frank Quitely’s publishing schedule on Jupiter’s Legacy being pretty spotty so far, the series is currently on hiatus until Quitely gets closer to finishing the final issues. In the meantime, Millar is taking the opportunity to fill in some backstory on the aging parents of Legacy with a prequel series called Jupiter’s Circle, set in 1959 and focusing on the first generation of superheroes in their prime.
Like Legacy, this is not breaking new ground – it's reminiscent of the flashback story of the Minutemen from Watchmen and also fits into the “Mad Men with superheroes” category that the recent Image Comics series C.O.W.L. has filled—but it is still an intriguing comic on its own. In the first issue, Millar focuses on the closeted life of one of the heroes, Blue Bolt, who we know from hints in Jupiter’s Legacy will have a falling out with the other heroes and become one of the greatest super villains of all time. Here, his downfall is all foreshadowed with public dalliances with men that put his role as a hero in the public eye at risk.
For this series, Millar is working for the first time with Wilfredo Torres—best known for his work on The Shadow. He’s a very different artist than Frank Quitely, but his clean, retro style is perfect for portraying this time period. Torres has recently suffered a personal tragedy—losing his wife to cancer—that may or may not end up putting this series on a delay as well. Many of his colleagues have stepped up to help him out in his time of need by auctioning off artwork under the hashtag #TorresBenefit.
3. Rebels #1
By Brian Wood, Andrea Mutti and Jordie Bellaire
Dark Horse Comics
Manifest Destiny which tells the story of Lewis and Clark’s secret hunt for supernatural creatures in the Louisiana Territories. In Rebels, the new series from Dark Horse Comics, Brian Wood and Andrea Mutti look to tell the story of the American Revolution through the eyes of a fictional husband and wife in the thick of pivotal events that will lead up to the war.
Wood has previously dabbled in historical fiction with his viking-era Northlanders series. He is also a very politically-minded writer, which is shown in past books like Channel Zero and DMZ. With Rebels, he looks to draw parallels between today's world of homegrown militias and pushback against government overreach with that of 1775 and the resistance movement that built into the Revolutionary War. Readers of Wood’s DMZ can see the logical jump from that book’s near-future war between libertarian militias and the Federal government and Rebels' similar conflict. However, it’s the detailed and historically accurate artwork of Andrea Mutti (with the reliably rich coloring work from Jordie Bellaire) that really brings this to life. You can see a preview here.
4. Convergence Week 1
In addition to Convergence #1—a weekly, 2-month long mini-series—every regular ongoing title in DC’s line-up will be replaced by special “Convergence” titles that step the continuity back to its respective “pre-Flashpoint” status quo (Flashpoint was the 2011 mini-series that effectively ended nearly 30 years of continuity in advance of a reboot and a renumbering of all their titles).
Despite a penchant for rebooting continuity and erasing years of stories with big events like this, DC is very much in the business of nostalgia and these Convergence comics show that you can even be wistful for something that has only been gone a few years. This week sees a number of blasts to the recent past like:
• Convergence Superman #1 in which Clark and Lois are once again married and now expecting a child.
• Convergence Batgirl #1 starring fan-favorite character Stephanie Brown, a short-lived replacement for Batgirl (as well as Robin).
• Convergence Nightwing and Oracle #1, in which former and current Batgirl, Barbara Gordon, is back in her wheelchair as Oracle and in a relationship with former Robin and Nightwing Dick Grayson.
• Convergence Question #1 with Renee Montoya, a character who has only just made her reappearance in the new continuity as a Gotham Police detective.
These are just a few of the Convergence titles that come out this week, with more to come.