Rising Stars 8
Review by Mike Helba
Issue 8 of Rising Stars is huge.
It doesn't actually have any more pages than the other issues. Halfway through writing the synopsis I said, "This can't be right." I checked, and there were only 22 pages. There's so much going on, however, that they seem like many more.
A significant portion of the story focuses on Dr. William Welles, the physician and confidant to the Specials. He is taken into custody by the government. Welles keeps his humor as he spars with Paulson, the government bureaucrat in charge of the Specials. Welles refuses to give him information on how to kill the Specials. However, as he begins to suspect what is happening, he realizes he must share some information with Paulson to avoid catastrophe.
Paulson and his troops bridge the gap between Dr. Welles and the other half of the story. The escaped Specials are hiding out, and tensions are high. No one has ever liked John Simon very much, and many of them now resent the leadership role he is taking on. More importantly, they are upset because the new powers he displayed while battling Matthew Bright have made it impossible for them to negotiate. At times it seems that John shouldn't be their leader as his bad temper flares up.
A character with human flaws... what a concept!
Issue 8 introduces the character of Critical Maas. Critical Maas first appeared as an action figure in an article that accompanied the Issue 0 Reprint. When I first saw this action figure of an unknown character obviously designed to appeal to teenage boys (complete with panties visible above her sagging cargo pants), I feared that Straczynski was creating the character as a favor to Top Cow. Even if that's the case, he has imbued her with an interesting personality and story. She derives more character from the writer than the artist. I'm also suspecting that we haven't seen the last of her "sister" Stephanie.
This is the end of Act One of Rising Stars. What started out as a murder mystery quickly evolved into a witch hunt conspiracy. Now the stage has been set for yet another type of story in the next issue.
The synopsis provides a detailed summary of Issue 8. It contains spoilers.