This is how you do a proper Watchmen comic! Forget the very "bleh" feeling you got from the very pretty, but very indistinct, Before Watchmen books, and sink your teeth into Jupiter's Legacy. This book could very well be the story we've all been waiting for since Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons took pen to paper about three decades ago… yeah, its that good.
This story has almost everything I like about Mark Millar in it, and the first issue in this series feels like it's shaping up to be his strongest work to date. It has that "this is all really happening" feel that goes hand and hand with Millar. That style can be a hit or miss with me, but in this instance, I feel like it's a big hit for two reasons. Firstly, he's not playing with iconic characters from the "Big Two", which in a lot of cases can really take the piss out of some of the fantasy elements of the Marvel and DC characters. Sometimes the grounded approach can be powerful, and at other times it can feel like Qui Gon explaining Midichlorians, but since Jupiter's Legacy is a new mythology, the real world parallels work as wonderful social commentary and relatabilty. The second reason is that Millar is flat out clashing the nostalgic idealism of the 1930-50's against the our contemporary world, and its shaping up to be the main theme of the entire book. Alan Moore created variations of our iconic comic heroes and placed them in the very real and very turmultrious 1980's construct. Millar does the same thing here, but he sets the stage in a slightly askew version of our 2013. The difference is that the superheroes from the 1930's are still very relevant, and how they interact, not only with the current problems of 2013 (economy, social media, commercialism etc.), but also their very jaded and cynical (not to mention super-powered) children's perceptions of the world, will make for some excellent tension.
Is Frank Quitely the best comic book artist working today? It's something that I wouldn't dare even try to answer, but Quitely's work most assuredly has earned the right to at least bring up the question. Every time his work hits the stands, be it his X-Men run, We3, or All-Star Superman, he seems to be changing the industry for the better, and from the first installment of this book it appears that his streak is continuing. His work's harmonious balance of simplicity and detail is personal and amazing, like how he doesn't over accentuate muscles but will seemingly draw every fiber of a character's hair. His cartooning and realism strikes a very powerful cord, like the energy he creates when a character falls through glass or is thrown through the air, but its rendered accurately enough to have its own, very unique, sense of physics. In the first pages of the book he captures that Golden Age pulp feel of the 1930's comic, and then the book shifts into the modern-day feel of convention centers, clubs, and flat screen TV's that we all relate to. Amazingly, throughout the entire book, he never loses that 1980's Heavy Metal/Moebius style that Quitely has been influenced by and is most known for. Frankly, this is some masterful shit!
It's too early to tell what the book will mean in the long term, but I couldn't be more excited about where this book could go, and that's exactly what you want from a first issue. It's a book that I hope makes it's way to Northampton, and finds Alan Moore. I really do think that it's a type of book that would cheer Moore up (at least for this month) after all the Before Watchmen drama that went down last summer. It's not that I think Before Watchmen is entirely bad (I'll give a proper review of the entire collection as a whole soon), but I feel Jupiter's Legacy is also shaping up to be Watchman's legacy and is more akin to the book than DC's recent attempt to revisit the series. Hopefully, if the quality of Jupiter's Legacy keeps this pace up, we will have an instant classic that has relevance beyond the confines of the comic shop.