Rising Stars 0 Reprint
Review by Mike Helba
Rising Stars is a 24-issue comic book series written by J. Michael Straczynski and published by Top Cow.
That first sentence is a little misleading. It's 24 issues if you don't count Issue 0, the Preview Issue, Issue 1/2, and now the reprint of Issue 0.
The original Issue 0 was available as an insert in Wizard Magazine. The reprint is available by itself for $2.50.
The original story from Issue 0, titled "Rising Stars", is reprinted in its entirety with a new title page.
The entry from Dr. Welles' journal is reprinted, but the title is omitted. For those who haven't seen the original, the title is "From the Diary of Dr. William Wells [sic], MD, PhD".
The Supreme court decision that leaves the Specials with their parents is reprinted. However, unlike the original it is intentionally printed to appear slightly blurry. It also has a smudgy purple background, so this is apparently an effort to make it look like a mimeograph page.
The original Issue 0 had a sketchbook from artist Keu Cha that does not appear in the reprint. Instead there is an article on the upcoming Rising Stars action figures. The featured figures are Patriot, Chandra, Ravenshadow, and the previously unheard of Critical Maas.
This issue sports a new cover by artist Gary Frank. Keu Cha's cover from the original Issue 0 is reprinted on the back, so it is available without the titles that overlapped it originally.
The main selling point for this reprint is a new six-page story titled "Initiations: A lost tale of the Specials". This is the story of Slappy the Clown, who has been hired by the government to introduce the Special children to the compound where they will be interred.
The art is by Gary Frank. Frank's art is much cleaner and more realistic than either Keu Cha's or Christian Zanier's. Slappy sports a new facial expression in almost every panel, but Frank always manages to add a touch of fear to his eyes.
"Initiations" is my least favorite Rising Stars story. The idea of a circus clown being hired for an afternoon to introduce 113 children with unknown powers to their new prison is frankly a bit silly. This same government bureaucrat genius also must have been responsible for leaving an intimidating examination room visible to the children on their tour.
The entire story except for two words is a monologue from Slappy. At times, it is lettered in smaller print to indicate that he either can't be heard by the children or that he doesn't intend them to hear him. However, many of the things he says out loud seem like downright stupid things to say in front of the children. If he is scared of this group of children with mysterious powers, he shouldn't mumble out loud about how he's afraid of being alone with them and how they're going to be stuck in this facility for years.
Reprinting Issue 0 makes it available to readers who didn't buy Wizard Magazine with the original printing. Completists will also want to pick it up for the new story. Unfortunately, I can't say "Initiations" is worth the $2.50 cover price for casual readers who already own the original Issue 0.
The synopsis of "Initiations: A lost tale of the Specials" provides a detailed summary of the new story that appears in the reprint of Issue 0. It contains spoilers.