Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Jupiter's Circle

Mark Millar & others Jupiter's Circle (2015)
Here's another revisionist superhero book, a prequel to Jupiter's Legacy, about which I couldn't actually remember much aside from having liked it; and it's another revisionist superhero book building on the back story of contemporary characters by impersonating the forties and fifties. Just like Watchmen, one might well observe, and so it's probably no coincidence that the tale should open with our heroes battling a telepathic octopus from outer space. However, this one feels quite different to most variations on this theme which I've read, and I like it more. It's essentially hokey pipe-smoking caped escapades in a world of Leave It to Beaver and J. Edgar Hoover, more or less Justice Society of America with consequences. The twist is that the dark psychological underbelly of Jupiter's Circle is relatively mild in comic book terms, more Harvey Pekar than Rick Veitch's Bratpack wherein the masks conceal fetishism and personality disorders. The lightness of touch makes for a massively refreshing change and allows Millar to set an authentic tone with big, colourful stories powered by mad science and special kinds of ray, the contrast of which gives all the more weight to how these people relate to the real world and each other. We even get walk-on parts by Bill Burroughs, Jack Kerouac, and Ayn Rand without so much as the faintest trace of showing off; and Rand doesn't come out of it very well, which is gratifying. We've now clocked up nearly eighty years worth of superhero comics, a genre with certain very obvious limitations, and yet I don't think I've ever read one quite like this. I know Mark Millar's shot himself in the foot a couple of times, but Jesus - hats off to the man when he can still come up with stuff such as we have here.

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