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Davide Gianfelice

Jupiter’s Circle

After recently finishing Jupiter’s Legacy, I was intrigued to read the two prequels which detailed the six heroes’ early days. While Mark Millar remained the author, the artist switched to Wilfredo Torres, with the two covers by original artist Frank Quitely.

Book One

Told in six chapters, the chapters center on the other four members of the team besides the married couple, The Utopian and Lady Liberty. Set in the 1950s and 1960s, the Union of Justice team members are still grappling with their new identities and the fame that goes along with their powers.

The book opens with the reveal that Blue Bolt is gay, who is trying to hide that fact from his team. J Edgar Hoover tries to blackmail him, and he tries to commit suicide under the strain of his secret, but the team supports him and Blue Bolt gets his revenge against Hoover.

The Flare has a mid-life crisis and begins an affair with a nineteen-year-old girl who idolizes him, so he leaves his wife and three children for her. A horrible accident shows the true colors of his young girlfriend, with his loyal wife coming back to him. This story infuriated me- he didn’t deserve the second chance his wife gave him after so publicly flaunting his new romance. Asshole.

Skyfox and Brainwave have never gotten along, as Skyfox is always baiting Brainwave. Known as a playboy, Skyfox finally falls in love but Brainwave lays in wait, looking for a way to finally get back at Skyfox. Although both men are jerks, Skyfox deserves what happens next to him.

There was definitely a Mad Men vibe, with lots of smoking by everyone (it was actually funny seeing the heroes with cigarettes) and the sexism. On a side note, in the original series, a seventh person from the boat group was featured- they looked younger, like a teen. This character has never been seen or mentioned again. I hate when there are inconsistencies like that. The art by Torres is solid, but part of my lack of excitement is because I am comparing it to Quitely’s art that helped define the series. That’s why I hate when artists change within a series, people get attached to a certain art style and it’s hard to accept the next style even if it is good.

Book Two

There is a true shocker in this book, as it is revealed that The Utopian, married his fiancé upon first returning, when you assumed he and Lady Liberty had married immediately.

The rest of this second book deals with the fallout of Skyfox leaving the team because of his broken heart, and how he gets mixed up with some Vietnam War and Civil Rights protestors. He briefly reunites with the team, just for a final confrontation with Brainwave. Skyfox is then cast out, becoming a villain.

Because of the recent Netflix series (which was very uneven, but I will save my thoughts for a future post Edit- it was recently cancelled so I’m not going to bother writing a post about the tv series) these four books have been repackaged online on Hoopla as Jupiter’s Legacy Book One and Two, with the original two as Books Three and Four. While I understand the reasoning for doing so, reading it in that order does a disservice to the series, for these prequels are rather trite and soapy, so if you read them first you might not want to continue to the better two. Miller is planning a sequel, Jupiter’s Requiem, which I’d be curious to read and hope that the entire series as a whole lives up to the promise of how it began.

-Nancy

Fitz/The Flare, Walter/Brainwave, George/Skyfox, Sheldon/The Utopian, Grace/Lady Liberty, Richard/Blue Bolt

Northlanders: Book Two and Three

Three weeks ago I read Northlanders: Sven the Returned (Book One) and I said “This is a series (that continues on with different characters and dates) I will not continue.” Yet…here we are. When I heard that Book Three included a short story on Sven whose story was all of Book One, I ordered it. Then I thought, well, I should get Book Two just to keep it in order. Damn it all- I was hooked.

The Cross + The Hammer: Book Two

While Book One had taken place in AD 980 on the Orkney Islands of Scotland, this story takes place in occupied Ireland in the year AD 1014. The story centers around brute father Magnus and his pre-teen daughter Brigid who are on the run. Former monk Magnus is on a crusade to kill as many of the King’s men as he can while defending his homeland, despite having his beloved daughter by his side. Lord Ragnar, using unlikely detective skills (for that era) tracks this vigilante. But Ragnar is no noble Norse leader; he and his fellow soldiers leave as much destruction as Magnus does, each feeling their cause is worthy and justified.  Then the last chapter pulls the rug out from under you, and everything you thought about this father and daughter is suddenly upended. I had to re-read the concluding pages several times to truly understand what had just happened. Not all the pieces fit (you have to have a suspension of disbelief) but I applaud the author Wood for trying something new.

The artist is Ryan Kelly, different from the artist in Book One, and he ably recreates the Irish countryside and it’s inhabitants. The men are rugged and battle weary, but Brigid is always drawn as a beautiful waif, making her a studied contrast with her father.

Image result for northlanders the cross and the hammer

Blood in the Snow: Book Three

This volume is broken into several vignettes (similar to how Wood wrote Rebels), where as the two previous books dealt with one extended story at a time. While I at first only planned to read the last chapter about Sven, I was sucked into the other stories, that were all drawn by different artists.

Lindisfarne– Northern England AD 793: Teen Edwin hates his bitter father and older brother and when Vikings land near his home he leads them straight to his village. Conniving Edwin sides with the Northlanders and forever turns his back on his Saxon kin.

The Viking Act of Single Combat– Northern Europe AD 790-1100: Six generations of two neighboring lords battle regularly. Two ugly Vikings battle to the death. Whatevs.

The Shield Maidens– Danish Mercia AD 868: Three widowed Danes escape and become shield maidens who were women warriors who fought alongside men in Scandinavian folklore and mythology. They escape to an abandoned Roman fort and defend themselves against the invading Saxons. Fate is intertwined into the story, so how they succeed seems less due to their own prowess than just luck. The very dark coloring and lack of individualization of the three women made this female-centric story less powerful than it could have been.

Sven The Immortal– Oslo Norway AD 1009: Sven and Enna are back! As is original artist Gianfelice and his issue with eyes! Sven has been in exile for several decades when young men who want to prove their manhood by killing the fabled Sven Of Orkney, decide to find him. Sven sends his two children into hiding, and he and Enna prepare for the attack. These young bucks underestimate the greying Sven but he shows them that he can still battle with the best of them. While I won’t spoil how he and Enna persevere, I will say that I was extremely happy with the ending. Sven- who knew that your character would end up being so appealing to me?

There are seven books total in this Northlanders series, and while I truly don’t plan on reading the remaining four, never say never! ( Edit- I did, and loved the series! Books Four & Five, Six & Seven)

-Nancy

Image result for northlanders sven the immortal
Wood, Brain & various artists. Northlanders: Book Two + Three. 2009 +2010.

Northlanders: Sven The Returned

Who knew Vikings were so emo?

As a huge fan of Brian Wood’s Brigg’s Land and Rebels series, I wanted to check out his earlier work and picked up this Viking saga set in a A.D. 980 on the Orkney Islands of Scotland. Norseman Sven, who has been banished from his ancestral home, returns home after his father’s death to claim his inheritance.  Continue reading “Northlanders: Sven The Returned”

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