At the end of last year, Mark Millar and Frank Quietly ended the first act of this story by leaving our jaws on the floor with “Jupiter’s Legacy #3.” The Utopian and Lady Liberty were brutally murdered at the hands of their own friends and family. Chloe and Hutch were forced to go on the run as fugitives from Brandon and Walter Sampson. Power changed hands and not for the better. Things got downright Shakespearean. After that, we as readers were forced to wait with bated breath for almost four months before we could get our hands on the newest issue. Factor in Millar himself telling us that there would be a significant jump to nine years in the future, and, naturally, this leads to a lot of speculation. How will the time jump affect the story? How bad are things after Sheldon’s death? How bad will things get with Walter as the puppet master? Will Walter just kill Brandon and take power for himself?
Before we get any of our answers, we are finally given more insight into what took place on The Island that gave Sheldon, Walter, George, and Grace their powers. Starting in 1932, the crew has found what they think is an island (more on that in a minute). Sheldon is convinced that they are all meant to be there, and he says he knows exactly where to go once they make landfall. Walter then proceeds to squabble with his brother, but George, still a friend and not the world’s greatest super-villain, tells him to lighten up and trust his brother. It is a quick back and forth, but it hints at the idea that maybe Uncle George wasn’t always such a bad guy, and it also shows that someone is capable of getting under Walter’s skin.
As it turns out, what they thought was an island is in fact a huge alien craft with years of vegetation growing on the surface. Once they find the entrance and cross through its doors, they are transported to a mysterious plane where what look like huge alien priests guide them to some kind of temple. Sheldon knows in his heart that they are the ones who will give them their powers and that they want them to use their abilities to save their dying country. Why this is so or what happens after that remains a mystery, but, to date, this is the most information we’re given about what happened all those years ago. It is a part of the story that I have been invested in learning about, and the twist with the island has only further whet my appetite for more knowledge. There is a lot we do not know about these people’s shared past, and it could be the key to saving their children and the future. Now, about that…
We find out that all of this is being told to Chloe and Hutch’s son, Jason, as a bedtime story in Australia in the year 2022. They are in hiding, living as outcasts; concealing their true identities and all the boy wants to hear about are the exploits of his hero grandparents: how they used to defeat their enemies, how they came to be married, and how his grandfather could squeeze a piece of coal so hard he could make a diamond, right there in his hands. All of this delights Jason, and he is clearly showing signs of wanting to use his own powers, to the dismay of his parents. They make him hide his physical prowess and mental acumen. Jason must play the part of the wimpy dork and he so clearly wants to stretch his legs. It turns out young Jason, while just a boy, is already disobeying his parents and is saving people from random calamities in Australia. While this is sure to reveal their location to Walter, it also gives us a glimmer of hope. There are at least three people on the planet with super powers who might be able to give their treacherous family a run for their money.
Speaking of those two filicidal traitors, when we finally get to see what they are up to, we quickly learn that the people they rule are on the verge of rebellion. People are out of work, out of homes, and they are taking to the streets of D.C. in protest. As Brandon looks on, Walter continues to pull the strings without poor, hapless Brandon ever getting wise to it. We still do not know his plans or intentions, but Walter is definitely the one in charge. Even when Brandon has a hissy fit and attacks the protesters outside of The White House, Walter goes to the trouble of implanting positive imagery of adoring masses in his mind instead of the pile of people he just hurled into a line of parked cars. It is a cruel and pathetic moment that gives an even deeper look into just how vapid Brandon can be and how easily it is to keep him on a short leash. It is a harsh and ugly contrast to the tight family unit that the Australia group has become. Chloe was a drug addict, and her son and her husband helped her through a terrible time in her life. Brandon continues to live without thinking and seeks the aide of his uncle to function in any way.
The final twist to the book is a welcome one: the introduction of a new character. Walter has indeed become aware of the strange occurrences in Australia. The anomalies and rescues that can not be accounted for are a strong sign that there are people with super powers in the region. Even though Walter wants to apprehend them, it wouldn’t look good for either he or Brandon to get involved in a direct way. This allows for the hiring of professional help. We do not know this man’s name but he is dressed in all black, has a squad of armed goons at his side, and looks like he might enjoy his job. Granted, he is a villain in this story, but a new face is a welcome one in this small cast of players.
If you notice, I didn’t mention anything about Frank Quietly’s art. Why is that? The simple answer is because it is flawless. So why even bring it up? Just expect the best. The writing from Millar is successful in creating both heartfelt moments and bleak previews of what is to come. However, while it was good, I do feel like there was a wasted opportunity here. With the limited run of this book, I did expect to move the story forward more than it did. The sequence on the island and with the aliens was a great touch. But by spending so much time with the events of the past, we were not able to dive too far into what is happening now in 2022. Even still, this isn’t enough to put a damper on the fact that this is a top-notch addition to the overall narrative of this series.
“Jupiter’s Legacy #4” scores a 9/10
Mike Sains is a Staff Writer at Capeless Crusader. When he isn’t writing, he’s podcasting at various places online. When he isn’t podcasting, he’s collecting comic books, FunkoPop! figures, and vinyl records. You can hear him on Geek Girls, Nerd Boys, The Tower of Sour, and The Inverse Delirium, all available on iTunes. Follow him on Twitter @MikeSains.