Writer: Mark Millar
Artist: Wilfredo Torres
Colours: Ive Svorcina
Letters: Peter Doherty
Cover artist: Frank Quietly
Variant covers: Bill Seinkiewicz and Goran Parlov
For a title with such a hefty amount of names behind it, Jupiter’s Circle #1 seems disappointingly simple at first glance. As a prequel to Jupiter’s Legacy I had high hopes for this one – Frank Quietly is quite the artist and I was a little let down that he only did the cover on this one.
The colour is mostly blocked in with occasional simple gradients, the perspective and layout is well done but the inks look quick, as though the comic was rushed through into production – even the action shots look static for something which looks as though it was drawn in haste. But I am an art snob and don’t usually like old school comic art – so I bit my lip and read on.
The comic opens in the graveyard of the greatest heroes and goes on to tell their story. I must admit a good opening – we rarely think of Heroes buried in the earth, they seem so untouchable. Okay Mark Millar… so I am listening.
The story quickly hooks me, and I realise that it almost all seems to be an homage to traditional super hero comics. Mark Millar is pulling another Watchmen on us here.
So, you got me! the more I read, the more the art style seems to make sense, to fit and to seem less rigid. Typical tentacled memory-eating space monster attacks town… heroes band together to fight it. It is beautiful in its simplicity, but it is the subtle building of the characters that gives this one barbs to hook you.
I don’t want to give anything away here, but something that I feel is noteworthy is the homosexual hero. We are first introduced to him in a tastefully displayed scene in bed, that shows a realistic post coital discussion between one of our heroes and a male prostitute. I like this. It is thrown in no differently to a scene with a man and a woman would play out in a comic like this, by this I mean it is natural and casual. Bonus points for equality!
This character in particular is the main focus in this issue. There is a lot of exploring his homosexual urges and the fact he has to hide it in the society he is in. It tackles the seedier side of males hooking up in parks in secret and being targeted by the law, and it does this with tact and empathy. The social attitudes and hypocrisy are well captured, and yet the writing, the dialogue is simple and to the point. I suppose I should not have expected less from Millar.
To me it is the first comic that has really looked at attitudes to homosexuality in superheroes. (I am aware they have appeared and even been married in comics before, but this one seems to capture a sadness and struggle that the others missed for me.) This also sets up the next issues for the political blackmail in the government trying to get a hold on this league of heroes. I can see this tale becoming gritty.
I like it.