Since 2007, when Joe Quesada and Marvel editorial broke up the marriage of Peter Parker and Mary-Jane Watson in “One More Day”, superhero marriages (happy or unhappy) have become exceedingly rare with initiatives, like the New 52, bringing in younger, unattached versions of iconic characters, like Superman, The Flash, and Green Arrow. In Jupiter’s Circle #3, writer Mark Millar and artist Wilfredo Torres (with help from artists Davide Gianfelice and Francesco Mortarino) say, “To hell with this” and tell the story of Flare, a superhero with a wife and kids who love him. But he meets a blonde, 19 year old grocery clerk’ wannabe crime fighter named April Kelly, who turns his world upside down. The tension in this issue isn’t between superheroes and the government, like in the previous two issues, but between one man and what he should do and wants to do. The bright, four color newsprint palette of Ive Svorcina, and Wilfredo Torres’ art, which resembles Carmine Infantino’s Silver Age The Flash draws a strong contrast to more realistic subject matter.
From one point of view, Jupiter’s Circle #3 reads as a deconstruction of the all too perfect (And let’s face it, boring.) love lives of Silver Age superheroes, especially Barry Allen and Clark Kent. These comics were written for pre-pubescent boys, and the writers on these titles didn’t give the heroes very “adult” love lives having Superman and The Flash running away from Lois Lane and Iris West like they had cooties or something.
Mark Millar takes this silly concept and welds it to the all too real problem of older men leaving their wives and kids for younger women. He also adds a layer of intrigue and agency for April, who might be sleeping with and being nice to the Flare so she can become a legit superhero for The Union. With his cavalier behavior towards the Union and mistreatment of his wife and kids, The Flare doesn’t come across as a hero in his personal life. But his cynical outlook and ennui about what his life has become is all too relatable, and Millar spends the entire issue crafting him developing him from the background family man of Jupiter’s Circle #1-2 into a three dimensional character in this issue.
Artist Wilfredo Torres uses cinematic techniques, like cross cutting and slow motion, to tell a more memorable story. One panel of his work in Jupiter’s Circle #3 can reveal so much about a character, like a shot of Flare’s son picking over his breakfast while his father ignores. Without a line of dialogue, Torres shows there is friction here. His best use of cross cutting is when Flare and April “team up” for the first time, and it’s not Batman and Robin meet small Midwest City. Torres’ overall style is simple, clear, and influenced by Silver Age DC artists as well as Filmation cartoons, which activates the reader’s nostalgia sensors before Millar focuses on the superheroes’ personal lives between the battles with giant clowns and marionettes. (Puppeteer would fit right into Barry Allen’s Rogues.) Ive Svorcina’s colors truly bring out the late-50s setting with its khaki colored refrigerators, muted home interiors, and the gaudiness of everyone’s superhero costumes.
Even if Jupiter’s Circle #3 doesn’t go into the overall conspiracy plot, Mark Millar and Wilfredo Torres demonstrate that married superheroes’ stories don’t have to be boring while developing the character of The Flare and April Kelly in a comic that has a nostalgic superhero aesthetic, but is really about people with actual problems that don’t involve supervillains or alien invasions.