Rising Stars 9
Review by Mike Helba
Issue 9 of Rising Stars is the first comic to bear the Joe's Comics imprint on its cover.
This issue jumps ten years into the future from the events of Issue 8. The time is July 2012.
The first 13 pages represent a retrospective of life after the Surge in the pages of Mediaweek magazine. As such, this section is mostly text with plenty of "photographs". The inside front cover is designed in the style of a Mediaweek table of contents. It also shows the three different covers that grace different editions of this issue.
After the Surge that increased the powers of all the Specials, several of them took up criminal lifestyles. The most notable is Critical Maas, the now dominant personality of Stephanie Maas. She has taken over Chicago and cut it off from the rest of the world. The only other city to suffer catastrophic disaster is Atlanta. Joe Straczynski takes his revenge for Crusade's treatment by destroying the corporate headquarters of TNT.
Other Specials are helping to defend the Normals against the rogue Specials. These include Matthew Bright, Jason Miller, and Randy Fisk, although NexusCorp collects hefty fees for Jason's services. The majority of Specials are just trying to be left alone.
I am a little disappointed that it isn't easier to figure out where all the Specials are from this section. Part of the point that is being conveyed is that there is a lot of confusion about their whereabouts, but that could be conveyed while still having the various magazine articles be consistent with each other. A sidebar lists the number of Specials believed to be in each state, but it doesn't list any that live overseas even though one article says that some left the United States, and a picture of one Special flying to France is included.
Likewise, 20 Specials are listed as "stepped outside". This refers to those who live outside the law by taking what they need but aren't violent. Wouldn't some of these Specials be fairly localized? This category doesn't really belong in a "Where are They?" chart. The startling revelation is that only 11 Specials are believed to be dead. We readers know that most of the five "unaccounted for" Specials are also dead, but this number is still lower than I expected after ten years of conflict.
The remaining 11 pages revert to the standard comic book style. Randy Fisk and Chandra recruit John Simon to take on Critical Maas.
John has been living with guilt over his perceived failure ten years earlier. He has distanced himself from the other Specials and is clearly developing into the somber narrator of the story we first saw in Issue 0.
Possibly the most important revelation of this issue is that there is still a wide variance in the powers of the Specials. Some of them still can not fly.
I have one large complaint about the artwork. I wish the artists would make it easier to tell John and Randy apart. These are two of the most important characters in the story (at least until Randy snuffs it), and they look almost the same. It's even harder to tell them apart when their jacket and hair colors change from one panel to the next.
This issue was almost unsatisfying after the long wait, but is serves its purpose. It is a bridge that brings us to the next part of the story, and that next part promises to be wall-to-wall action.
In the back of Issue 9 is a two-page advertisement for Joe Straczynski's Midnight Nation. It includes some small art reproductions. There is also a full page ad for Joe's Comics sporting a 1950's diner style clock with the captions "Read at Joe's" and "Where it's always 5 minutes to midnight..."
The synopsis provides a detailed summary of Issue 9. It contains spoilers.