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Last week was a big week for comic book heavyweight Mark Millar, with not only Jupiter’s Legacy #4 comic out but more importantly the launch of his new miniseries, Starlight.
In Flash Gordon-meets-The Dark Knight Returns fashion, the story tells of a space hero who saved the universe 35 years ago but came back to Earth, where no one believed his fantastic stories. He settled down, got married, had kids and got weary. Now still getting over his wife’s death, his adult children not needing him, and feeling alone, he gets the call for one last adventure when his old rocket shows up.
The first issue is generating quite strong reviews and praise for Millar, a best-selling but sometimes polarizing figure who can passionately divide fans with his more hard-edged work such as Kick-Ass, Wanted and Marvel’s The Ultimates. This time out he seems to be leaving the cynicism behind, consciously. Millar, however, thinks the cynicism in his work may be overblown.
“Like Jupiter’s Legacy, people seem to be saying it’s missing my trademarked cynicism, but they said the same about Superior the year before, and The Secret Service is the most hopeful thing I’ve ever written,” he tells Heat Vision. “People know me best from things like Wanted, the Wolverine stuff, etc, which is all very hard-edged, but at the same time I’m as happy with my Superman work and even things like the relationship between Big Daddy and Hit-Girl (heroes in Kick-Ass) was incredibly sweet. Starlight is full-on Spielberg though and people seem very into it, but I’m as comfortable writing this kind of thing as I am flexing the Tarantino side of my brain.”
In many cases, Millar works writing backward, so the final issue, No. 6, is already mostly written and he’s working on issue five now. (Goran Parlov, who’s been earning raves for his Moebius-meets-Alex Toth art, is currently drawing issue three.)
“I constantly mess with it and delete and move things around, editing myself as I write until I could genuinely recite the entire issue, word for word, by the time I’m finished. It looks like I’m prolific because I do a lot of different projects, but the amount of time I put into each issue means going back ten years I average about 18 issues a year. … I spent two months in 2011 just rearranging Post-its on my wall for Jupiter’s Legacy, nine hours a day, working out a back story for the characters which we only touch on in the series, but which I felt was important.”
With superheroes stories still being the dominant genre and most sci-fi tales being set in the post-apocalypse, Millar’s tale goes against the grain even as it seems quaintly retro. It’s a feeling Millar is tapping on purpose.
“I love sci-fi and Star Wars changed my life, but if anything I think I love the pre-1977 sci-fi even more and that lantern-jawed American suddenly finding himself in a strange alien environment, that classic trope of all pre-70s science fiction, has been gone so long that it actually feels really fresh again.”
Heat Vision has the first look at the cover and the first three pages of Starlight #2, which will hit stores April 2:
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