Sunday, 28 April 2013
Sunday Capsule Reviews: Jupiter's Legacy #1 & The Sixth Gun #30
There were launch parties held in different cities, we're told, to celebrate the release of Mark Millar and Frank Quitely's Jupiter's Legacy. The lord of Millarworld even bountifully stumped up for a round or two. No matter how the unfan attempted to avoid such hype, it was tough to do so. Was the book guaranteed 150 000 first week sales or more? Is a film adaptation nailed on or simply very likely? Yet there's no prospect of hubris inspiring nemesis just yet, for Jupiter's Legacy turns out to be an undeniably fine superhero tale. By turns, it's an inter-generational soap opera, a furious condemnation of the Right's politics of greed, an Eighties-style genre deconstruction, and a smartly executed costumed crimefighter epic. As such, it's so well-crafted that you can't even catch sight of your own cynicism when reading it. Quitely's art is ingenious, meticulous and consistently compelling, while Millar establishes the book's status quo with an admirable mix of precision and enthusiasm. Smartly sprucing up the superbook's perennial fascination with law-breaking do-gooders, Millar delights in suggesting that complicity with big business has destroyed the legitimacy of both Washington and Westminster. It's a strategy which allows him to play with the genre's long tradition of state-defying super-people while implying that the real-world has its super-villains too.
As such, it ought to be conceded that the wave of apparent hucksterism which preceded the comic's appearance wasn't anything of the sort. Jupiter's Legacy really is a quality book. Whatever riches are coming by the truckload to Millar and Quietly's front doors, they've all been earned.
That I've only a partial grasp of The Sixth Gun's backstory is a reflection of my finances rather than my taste. Thankfully writer Cullen Bun and artist Brian Hurt have ensured that the less-than-expert reader of their weird western is neither weighed down by exposition or baffled by its absence. A complex comics-cosmology; a mass of personal relationships and individual character traits; a suspenseful drama leading to a hooksome final panel; an astute critique of the cliches of Western pot-boilers; it's all delivered in The Sixth Gun #30 with a degree of unshowy craftmanship that's as admirable and enjoyable as it's inconspicuous.
It's all-too-often argued that the use of magic in the action/adventure comicbook undermines its dramatic potential. It's a hoary old truism that's contradicted here by Bun and Hurt's depiction of Becky Montcrief's trials in a nightmarish reality. Publishers who've failed to exploit the potential of their own sorcerous characters ought to be taking notes.
The Sixth Gun is published by Oni Press, while Jupiter's Legacy is a Image/Millarworld book.