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Mark Millar and Frank Quitely Conceive ‘Jupiter’s Children’

It’s been an entertaining week for fans of the carnival barking-as-comics-promotion stylings of Mark Millar. The bestselling writer of Marvel’s Civil War and Icon Comics’ Kick-Ass has been rolling out new artwork and information from Millarworld, his line of creator-owned titles released through Icon and Image Comics. High concept collaborations with artists like Dave Gibbons (Secret Service — super-spy training!) and Leinil Yu (Supercrooks — super heist-hatching!) are sure to deliver the bombastic, chart-topping comics (and film adaptations) that have made Millar such a successful creator, but what most intrigued us most was Jupiter’s Children, a 10 to 12-issue project Millar is writing for his old The Authority collaborator, Frank Quitely (All-Star Superman, Batman and Robin).

As is his wont, Millar is cleverly withholding a lot of Jupiter’s Children information so that it can be strategically deployed across the comics media in the form of interviews and teasers (or even teasers for teasers) as the on-sale date draws near. But speaking with Comic Book Resources’ Kiel Phegley, Millar did reveal that the characters of Jupiter’s Children are the vapid, overprivileged children of great American superheroes.

“It opens in France in the 1920s, which immediately for a superhero story is a very different location,” he said. “We start on a bunch of explorers kind of like that opening from ‘King Kong,’ which I love, and they’re doing an exploration of the ancient world – these rich Americans who have put together an expedition to find something you’ll hear about in the story. From those first few pages, and a doomed expedition, we cut to the present day, and they came home from that trip altered and with a plan to save the American idea. In historical context, the Russian revolution is relatively recent and Europe is in a state of turmoil and they’re just on the cusp of the Wall Street Crash so they’ve gone on this trip to try and save America and then we cut to their utterly useless, meandering children in the present day essentially squandering their inheritance. It’s not crass and celebrity focused, although it touches on that stuff. It’s more Shakespearean, with the last of the old heroes, a King Lear figure, watching these teenagers and twenty-something with no altruism whatsoever. There’s a massive regret in his eyes as he looks around at the world he’s leaving behind, very much the world we see today with the Euro-zone collapse and industrial decline and six billion people worried about the future, he feels the children and grand-children of he and his friends just aren’t up to the job.

Millar used the late hotel magnate Conrad Hilton and his granddaughter Paris as a way to illustrate the dynamic in play in Jupiter’s Children.

The story — which Millar likened to an “event” comic book and something as “commercial” as Star Wars and The Lord of the Rings — is set against contemporary world issues such as the global economic crisis. Millar suggested his young characters were ill-equipped to confront issues such as “America losing power and influence to China” and “massive internal problems in China with social engineering being just one of them” and the “chaos” of “the Arab world.” Millar was quick to point out that these concepts form the backdrop of Jupiter’s Children, and that the work as a whole is to be a “huge, grand operatic piece” that “does super-heroics on a scale I’ve never even tried in something like The Ultimates.”

Despite reading all of that (and much more at CBR), I find myself with very little idea of what Jupiter’s Children actually is. Nevertheless, I find myself looking forward to it. Such is the singular talent of Mark Millar, but I think it has more to do with the idea of a new long form Frank Quitely story, one presumably designed completely by him and featuring all sorts of beautiful young people doing fantastically violent things. If nothing else, Jupiter’s Children will be among the best looking graphic novels of whatever year in which it is finally completed. The first issue is meant to come out in September.

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