Long Form Storytelling a Positive for Millar, Netflix Jupiter's Legacy

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Jupiter's Legacy

If you're a fan of superhero stories, but require a more intricate level of storytelling than the standard fare, Netflix delivers. Mark Millar's Jupiter's Legacy makes its first season drop this week, and gives the reader a world fully-populated with powerful beings, good guys and bad guys, with a traditional flavor of comic book morals juxtaposed against the reactions of a real world backdrop.

Taking a page from the first seasons of Arrow, the series jumps back and forth between where we are today and how we got here -- which entails a span of nearly 100 years.

Josh Duhamel plays Sheldon Sampson, the son of a steel magnate whose company flatlined in the wake of the 1927 stock market collapse. Ben Daniels plays his more business-oriented brother, Walter, who finds himself regularly at odds. When a family tragedy leaves Sheldon bereft, he starts to hear voices and get visions -- visions that bring him, Walter, and four strangers together on a quest that culminates in the advent of the superhero to the world.

The present day story finds a much older Sheldon, whose full-time devotion to being The Utopian has been a wedge issue between him and the rest of his family. He so identifies with the super side of his life that he doesn't even recognize his fellow supers -- of which there are now many -- by their civilian names when they are mentioned. His adherence to a golden age code of conduct -- the most sacred one being a stance against killing -- which he enforces on all members of the Justice Union, is looked upon by the rest of the world as outmoded. Even his fellow supers are starting to think the code endangers them, particularly as their own numbers drop against super villains who have no compunctions at all against killing them.

The series has multiple layers and converging storylines, all of which are important to the overarching plot. Sheldon's son, Brandon (Andrew Horton), is desperate to live up to his father's legacy in his role as Paragon. Meanwhile, daughter Chloe (Elena Kampouris) shuns the super-responsiblities entirely, opting for a life as a coke-snorting party girl / spokesmodel, cashing in on her celebrity as Utopian's daughter. And their mother, Lady Liberty (Leslie Bibb) tries to serve as a peacemaker, supporting her husband fully but also pleading her children's case to him, even as her own views of the code begin to evolve.

The current day storyline gets into high gear when the entire Justice Union is pulled into battle against an escaped Blackstar (Tyler Mane), a monstrous villain with an anti-matter fueled heart, who kills a hero during the attack. When Blackstar has Utopian down for a kill shot, Brandon flies in and delivers a fatal blow, breaking the code his father so stringently enforces. But Blackstar's death is just the first step of a larger mystery -- because Blackstar is still sitting in prison. The nature of this setup, and its implications, inform the remainder of the series, filled with interesting powers that are, more importantly, weilded by interesting characters.

Informed somewhat heavily at times from Kingdom Come and Watchmen, Jupiter's Legacy is long-form superhero live-action at its finest. Toss it into your Netflix cue and binge it today. It's a series that's completely rewatchabe, and I'm already stoked for a second season.

Grade: 
4.5 / 5.0