A scene characteristic of current “Jupiter’s Legacy” material opens episode six, in which this universe’s Superman, The Utopian (Josh Duhamel), has sex with his wife Grace aka Lady Liberty (Leslie Bibb) when he detects a rogue comet that must be stopped. She’s not so upset as to hope that he can go get the dry cleaning on the way home … to save the planet. The Utopian aka Sheldon Sampson has two children: Brandon (Andrew Horton) and Chloé (Elena Kampouris). The first is a hero named The Paragon but Dad is not sure his offspring really knows how to use their powers. The ending of the premiere features a decision made by Brandon that violates daddy’s heroic code and divides the Sampson family and truly the entire planet over what heroes should be allowed to do. Meanwhile, Chloe is even more rebellious and makes her way through life as the famous daughter of the world’s most famous couple.
Especially in the father / son dynamic that also plays out on “Invincible,” the family half of “Jupiter’s Legacy” feels a bit over the top and underwhelming. The flashbacks, told in a wider aspect ratio, are much more successful, detailing the origin story of The Utopian, Lady Liberty, and four other heroes known as The Union. It turns out that Sheldon’s father was one of many men who rushed out of a building during the 1929 stock market crash, throwing the wealthy Sampson clan into chaos. Sheldon’s brother Walter (Ben Daniels) tries to keep him in line, but Sheldon begins to have visions of a distant island he has never seen before. During the season, youngsters Sheldon, Grace, Walter, Richard Conrad (David Julian Hirsh), Fitz Small (Mike Wade) and George Hutchence (Matt Lanter) travel to this island, where everything changes.
Constantly cutting between current material and The Union’s origin story with the only visual cue being a different aspect ratio (other than removing some pretty mediocre old-age makeup on Duhamel, Bibb and others) results in at “Jupiter’s Legacy” a unique rhythm. Despite my general dislike of origin stories, I largely preferred the flashback material, as it has an old-school adventure series tone that is almost Spielbergian at times. The current stuff has a habit of being more awkward, especially when the action starts. When flashbacks remind me of Spielberg and current stuff reminds me of “The Amazing Spider-Man 2”, it’s not hard to pick a favorite.