Rising Stars is a 24-issue comic book limited series by J. Michael Straczynski about 113 people (called "Specials"), as they are born with special abilities following a mysterious light in the sky. The comic explores how a society may react to the introduction of superPowers, and how those Specials may react towards society and each other. Rising Stars was one of the first comics produced under Straczynski's own Joe's Comics imprint for Top Cow Productions.
The comic was published in August of 1999, monthly at first by Top Cow/Image Comics, and then under the Joe's Comics imprint. Within a few months, however, there were unscheduled artist changes and unexplained delays by Top Cow in shipping the comics - sometimes lasting months.
The comic itself came to an unexpected halt after issue 21 due to internal arguments between Straczynski and Top Cow. Straczynski claimed he was cut out of the loop on the potential Rising Stars movie. After communication broke down between them, he held back the scripts for the last three issues, and the entire comic was put on hold. In addition to an apology for the way Straczynski was treated in regard to the possible film, Top Cow relented by giving him the full rights to an anthology comic he had written for them, Dream Police (later published by Marvel Comics), as well as the rights to the name and logo for the Joe's Comics imprint.
The last issue of Rising Stars was published in March 2005. During the intervening time, Straczynski had gone on to write a revamp of Marvel's Squadron Supreme, Supreme Power.
Spoiler warning: Plot and/or ending details follow.
The story is narrated by the last living Special in the future, John Simon aka Poet. The story starts when the Specials are all grown up, but it constantly flashes back to when they were children. Through these flashbacks, the development of these 113 Specials is shown, starting with the government's monitoring and handling of the events, to the manifestation of their Powers, to the impact of these abilities on the afflicted children and the world around them. Some of the Specials use their Powers for the good of the world, others for personal benefit and fame, whilst others simply wish to forget about them and live a normal life.
While John was investigating a series of murders in Specials' community, he learned that when Specials died, their "force" would transfer to the remaining Specials, making each more powerful. A Special with multiple personality disorder, who called herself Critical Maas, had begun using Jason Miller aka Patriot to kill other Specials so her own power would be increased. Maas manipulated the U.S. Government into attacking the Specials so more would be killed. Using her newly increased Powers, Maas and a handful of Specials she controlled were able to conquer Chicago, claiming it for themselves.
Ten years pass and John, his half-brother Randy Fisk aka Ravenshadow, Elizabeth Chandra, and Joshua Kane a.k.a. Sanctuary lead the Specials in an attempt to liberate Chicago after they are promised by the U.S. Government that all charges against them would be dropped. Maas is defeated, but at a price: Matthew Bright, who had been sent by the government to assist in her defeat, was beaten into a coma by Patriot, who was still under Maas' control.
Seeing that fighting amongst themselves was not what they were empowered for, John proclaims that he wants them all to act as a unit so they can help humanity. The violence in Chicago affected the rest of the Specials profoundly as well and they all agree to assist John in his mission.
Another ten years passed, and their mission was almost complete. Humanity had been helped by the Specials, and more importantly, had been given the confidence and resources to further help themselves. After Randy Fisk won the Presidency, the U.S. Government, seeing the Specials as a threat to their power, plotted to assassinate the remaining few.
A bomb, specifically designed to destroy even the most powerful Special, was set off during a gathering of all the Specials, except for John who was busy working on a secret project. All were killed, including Randy and John's lover, Elizabeth Chandra. The power was initially distrubted amongst all the people of the world instantly curing all forms of illness and injury. It also granted everyone limited telepathy which brought an end to all wars, violence, strife, etc. as people became aware of the thoughts and feelings of those they had previously viewed as their enemies. Those involved in the assassination voluntarily came forward and confessed. For 24 hours, not a single human being died. After 24 hours was up, the power departed into the sky and sought out John, giving him all the power and knocking him out for seven days. He used that power to provide energy for the project he had been working on: a space ship that could travel faster than the speed of light.
The immense power within John directed the ship to yet another world, an alien planet much like Earth. John's ship erupted into a fireball, strikingly similar to the one that had empowered the Specials, as it came crashing down onto the planet's surface. It can be assumed that a process similar to what happened with the Specials would happen to this planet's populace. The circle had been completed.
There are 113 Specials, with the story focusing on a select few and often featuring appearances by others.
John Simon (Poet) - Poet and writer, but not a very popular one. Has a knack with electronics, can avoid security systems, is sensitive to electrical impulses, and energy projection. Also, the force that created the special abilities resides in him, making him the most powerful of all the Specials.
Matthew Bright - Police officer - Flight, super-strength and speed, near-invulnerability.
Jason Miller (Formerly Flagg, Patriot) - Masked corporate superhero employed by NexusCorp, later turned vigilante - Flight, super-strength and speed, near-invulnerability, can sense radiation.
Elizabeth Chandra - Former model - Appears as the physically ideal woman to whoever is looking at her. Later gains the ability to inspire love rather than lust in both male and female onlookers.
Randy Fisk (Ravenshadow) - Artist - Flight, super-strength, ability to see things nobody else can, is sensitive to electrical impulses, energy projection.
Stephanie Maas/Critical Maas - Split personality able to access Powers of flight, super-strength and speed, broadcast telepathy, and the ability to psychically control any Special she has been in physical contact with.
Jerry Montrose (Pyre) - Pyrokinetic - Controls fire, capable of surrounding his body in intense heat without burning. He also and retains the ability to fly as well as enhanced strength.
Paula Ramirez - Singer - Telepathic singing voice that can only be described as 'beautiful.'
Willie Smith - Flight, super-strength and speed, can feel the location of other Specials.
Joshua Kane (Sanctuary) - Televangelist - Levitation, energy absorption, ability to generate and concentrate light. Transvestite, feels he is a woman in a man's body. Is only truly free when able to be alone and "be himself" by dressing as a woman.
Laurel Darkhaven - Telekinetic Government assassin. Laurel had the ability to telekinetically manipulate small objects. She was employed as an assassin because, as noted in the comic book, "The carotid artery is a small object". At John Simon's urging, she later expended her Powers moving the arable soil in the Middle East from beneath the sand to the surface.
Lionel Zerb - Medium - Able to detect and contact the recently deceased. Later gains the ability to talk to those that have not died recently. Ability seems limited by proximity to place of death or place of burial, but he has been known to contact particular individuals.
Cathy Jean - Healer - Rejuvenative abilities, to the point of raising the recently dead.
Brody Kempler - Supergenius - Einstein, Archimedes, and Stephen Hawking rolled into one don't even come close. Inventor.
Clarence Mack (Dreamwalker) - Psychologist - Telepathically visits other people's dreams
Peter Dawson - Invulnerable - a microthin shield protects his body from all injury, and filters his environment. As result, he has no sensation; therefore, the only sense he feels is taste, causing him to overeat. Cannot be physically injured, or poisoned in any way.
Lee Jackson - Pyrokinetic - Abilities similar to Jerry Montrose (Pyre). Used his control of thermal energy to attain the heat of fusion and temporarily turned into a star which abruptly killed him.
Patrick Ferry - The ability not to be noticed. Stealth, hiding in shadows.
After many Specials are killed, the shared/increased power makes the rest nearly invulnerable.
This article uses material from Wikipedia and is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.
All material is compiled from numerous sources and may not be accurate. Dynamic Forces, Inc and all of its subsidiaries cannot guarantee the validity of the content.