Page 45 Review by Stephen
"Don't worry, Mom. You've still got us.
"Dad'll get what's coming to him."
If looks could kill...
The prequel to JUPITER'S LEGACY is a book about relationships set in a time when the superhero genre looked at them barely at all. Certainly no hero left his wife and children for a star-struck teenager then attempted to recommend her as a new superheroine to his teammates.
What Fitz fails to see is that they're like a family themselves who've grown up together.
"We've all known Joyce since we were back in college and we're not going to let you humiliate her like this."
The thing is Fitz, The Flare, has enough self-awareness to know he's doing wrong because his old man walked out of them when he was nine years old, and he doesn't want to inflict that same pain and disillusionment on his own kids. He even says, "That's the thing when you become a parent. The kids come first."
So self-knowledge yes; self-guidance no. Do you fear it will go horribly wrong? The first image here is barely the beginning.
His Fitz's team-mate Richard finds himself with a very different sexual dilemma. Here he is, enjoying a post-coital cigarette, in bed with an ex-marine he's only just met.
"How do you know Danny?"
"We used to be in the marines together. He's hooked me up with a few tricks before, but none of them were as handsome as you. Did you know he hooks up all the movie stars at that gas station? I saw Tyrone Stars out there and Walter Pigeon gave me twenty bucks just to give him a hand-job."
"So what line of work are you in?"
The look on Richard's face, wondering what would happen if the public - or even his peers - found out that one of America's greatest heroes was into men...
This is 1959 and cinema's greatest heroes were all in the closet - because, umm, public opinion and box office...? But also: illegal. Yes, it was illegal to love if you were a bloke and your loved one happened to shave too.
Imagine the power that gave others over you - employers, employees, complete strangers and, oh, I don't know, the American secret service? If they found out it could be immediate arrest, trial, public humiliation, ostracism, disgrace then prison or blackmail for life. There are movies about it: 1961's 'Victim' starring Dirk Bogarde for a start.
Speaking of cinema, here's Kathryn Hepburn giving Richard her take at a very private party:
"I have to say I find the whole thing ridiculous, Richard... Sure, half of Hollywood's in lavender marriages, but at least we're handsomely paid to be hypocrites. You're out there saving lives every day. Why should you have to lie about who you're snuggling up with every night?"
"It's like politicians and preachers, Katie. The public just hold us to a higher standard. People want their superheroes to be whiter than white."
Quite literally, back then.
"Well, I'm just worried what it does to your health, darling. I've seen what living a lie can do. We're a queer town selling the world a heterosexual ideal. Haven't you ever wondered why we're all on pills and booze? A double life is a terrible strain and you're living a triple life. The stress must be unbearable."
Torres can capture a perfect likeness, which will come in very handy when it comes to FBI director and notorious muck-merchant J. Edgar Hoover. The art is deliciously innocent, clean-lined and evokes this particular sub-genre's period perfectly. There are a lot of cheesy smiles and big, broad grins until the considerable repercussions kick but I promise you this: so many of the cast will surprise you.
So yes, from the writer of SECRET SERVICE: KINGSMAN KICK-ASS, CHRONONAUTS, SUPERIOR, NEMESIS, MPH, Marvel's CIVIL WAR. WOLVERINE: OLD MAN LOGAN - all of them highly recommended - comes the prequel to JUPITER'S LEGACY. It is a very different beast, but equally deserves your attention because reading one informs your understanding and so appreciation of the other.
In JUPITER'S LEGACY, following the Wall Street Crash, Sheldon Sampson set about giving America something to believe in, people to give them hope: superheroes. What happens there is disastrous but so far here they've done their job admirably and are much respected by the public while being despised as uncontrollable by the FBI.
Sheldon's brother Walter thinks they should make the role more official by allying themselves with the FBI who've reached out with an offer while making contingency plans if rejected. Sheldon's dead against it on principal's sake - they need to remain above politics, autonomous. It's George Hutchence who elaborates:
"Hoover's an asshole. Don't you get it? He's got dirt on everyone from coast to coast and now he's trying to get you too. He can't control us and it's driving him crazy. He'd bug these headquarters given half a chance."
As I say, contingency plans.
Bravo for Mark Millar and the post-coital cigarette scene: if you're going to do this, do it properly with no shying away nor emasculation.