If you have Netflix and like superhero stuff, I highly recommend you watch one of its newest shows, Jupiter’s Legacy. This show is based off a comic series written by the very brilliant Mark Millar, who has written some of the greatest Marvel stories. You want some examples? Perhaps little stories like Civil War and Old Man Logan will ring some bells? It’s just my personal opinion, but those are among the best Marvel stories, and Mark Millar has written some great non-Marvel stories as well. These stories include Nemesis, American Jesus, and probably his most popular one, Kick-Ass. He has the movie to thank for that.
His Jupiter’s Legacy series was a more somewhat recent one, as it was published by Image Comics back in 2013. I’ll admit, I’m a big fan of Mark Millar, but I actually never read his Jupiter’s Legacy series. When I saw the first trailer for the Netflix show, I honestly thought it looked kind of silly. The costumes looked like they were very ’50s-ish, the effects looked incomplete, and then I noticed an older Josh Duhamel. I just wondered why they would take an actor who is known for playing the pretty boy and give him a fake white beard and wig. What was the deal?
Well, then I did some digging into Jupiter’s Legacy and just read a brief synopsis on what the story is about. I was intrigued, but my hype level for the show was still rather low. But I figured that since I’m a big comic fan, Jupiter’s Legacy should be something that I could like. I gave it a chance the other night and once the first episode ended, I was hooked.
The farther I got into the show, the more I realized why everyone looked the way they did. Just a fair warning here, I’ll be giving some spoilers, so if you haven’t watched it yet, turn away. First of all, Josh Duhamel was really the only actor I was familiar with. He plays the main character of Jupiter’s Legacy, Sheldon Sampson, aka The Utopian. Think of him as an immortal Superman with white hair and a white beard. He can fly, he has super strength, he’s invulnerable, and can shoot laser beams from his eyes. He also lives on a farm and sticks to his strict code of ethics. The two main rules of that code: never dictate and never kill. Sounds a lot like Superman, right?
But it doesn’t just stop there. The Utopian also leads a small team of superheroes like him (like Superman leads the Justice League) which he calls the Union. Heck, they even have their own round table. And yes, there is a reason why Josh Duhamel looks old in it. His civilian identity, Sheldon Sampson, was once a very wealthy businessman…. from the 1920s. The show does cover that time when he was young and actually looked like Josh Duhamel, but in the modern era, he’s basically old man Superman.
He’s not the only hero from that era, however. Joining him are his wife, Grace Kennedy-Sampson, aka Lady Liberty, his brother, Walter Sampson, aka Brainwave, the only members of the Union who are still operating with him. Lady Liberty can fly and has super strength, as well as Brainwave, except the latter possesses psionic abilities. Like the Utopian, their aging process is also very slow, making them much older than they look. And I must say, that make-up crew did a phenomenal job at making the main cast look old. These people were already grown adults in the ’20s and ’30s era, and they continued to operate in the modern era.
They had three other men alongside them when they became heroes, one who is now a paraplegic in the modern era, and another who actually turned on them and is currently imprisoned. This is Fitz Small, aka The Flare, and George Hutchence, aka Skyfox, who was Sheldon’s former best friend. The third man, Richard Conrad, aka Blue Bolt, was the final original member of the Union, and is no longer with the team. Unlike the other members, he mostly relies on a power rod that allows him to teleport.
That’s what I dug about Jupiter’s Legacy, at least in the past portion of the story. The whole series divides the storytelling between the origins of the Union and what happens in the modern era, and they do it well. What I liked about it was past portion was a callback to the golden age of comics, or that beginning era of the tights and capes. Sure, it looked corny back then and everyone in the modern era makes fun of it.
But that’s actually where the brilliance of the show begins. Since the heroes are from the past, they have to learn to adapt to a different era. The more I watched Jupiter’s Legacy, the more concepts I saw from other comic book movies/shows. For instance, there’s that whole debate on whether or not superheroes should kill. The Union from Jupiter’s Legacy originated from the ’30s, a time where they upheld their moral code. In the modern era, their code is being questioned by both the public and the younger heroes, especially the children of the Utopian and Lady Liberty.
Now that’s when things in Jupiter’s Legacy get very interesting. As a matter of fact, how many superhero movies/shows have a whole family work as a superhero team? Fantastic Four is probably the best example, but their movies are just eh.
What Jupiter’s Legacy does is tell a superhero story that’s not about action, but about a family trying to stick together. This family just so happens to be a family of very powerful super-beings. The real struggle with Sheldon is not some power hungry supervillain, but trying to keep his family together, and most importantly, pass down his legacy to his kids. His kids, Brandon and Chloe, don’t exactly have a good relationship with him, but his main goal is to teach them the value of the code. This also, however, makes him forget that he’s a father. He has trouble learning the difference between training proteges and raising children. His wife and brother are there to console him, but even they question the code that Sheldon so adamantly stands by.
I won’t go any further into spoiler territory. The bottom line is that superhero fans need to watch this show. It’s not about crazy action, because it’s more of a drama with superheroes. They deal with real issues, most notably family issues. These are things we regular folks can relate to, and it doesn’t always end well. For the heroes of Jupiter’s Legacy, it’s family dysfunction at its highest.
And as for my confession, I still haven’t gotten to reading the comics. I think now is the time to change that, because the show has made me a fan.