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Act 1 - Born in Fire Issues #1-8

JMS AT RASTB5M SAID:
OCT.26.1998
[Rising Stars] follows the events after the small town of Pederson, Illinois, is struck by a mass of energy from an unknown, but non-terrestrial source. Everyone who was in utero at the time of the flash is affected, resulting in 113 individuals who develop abilities of a most unusual and highly individual form. (The power is to some degree shaped by who they are, just as they are shaped to some degree by the power.)

To read more about why this comic series remains unfinished, please visit our JMS Comics forum or read JMS' comments on our Rising Stars Act 3 page.

NOTE: Comics are listed by issue number from oldest to newest.

Issue: 1 · 2 · 3 · 4 · 5 · 6 · 7 · 8
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#1: Nova Placenta (Reprint Edition)
Author: J. Michael Straczynski -- Published: Oct 1999 -- Format: Single Comic
Click for larger image DESCRIPTION:
After a strange, explosive flash, 113 children were born in Pederson, Illinois. These children later developed special abilities that would make them heroes or villians, outstanding or forgetable. In this first issue, we meet our narrator Poet as he begins to record for posterity the story of what happened to the Pederson Specials.

MONICA'S REVIEW:
It is wonderful to read this issue ... not only is there an introduction by Neil Gaiman but it is a great introduction to the Specials like only JMS can give. Leave it to him to give a new perspective about what it is like to live as a superhero. This story is being told from the perspective of Poet (the last survivor of the Pederson Specials) who relates the history of the Specials, what they became, and what eventually lead to their downfall. JMS lays it all out for us and now it is up to him to tell us how it happened.

ADDITIONAL INFO:
This edition is the same as the B/W Edition but it is in color.

OTHER EDITIONS:
I have collected a few other versions of this issue ... 4 Cover Set (put them next to each other and they form a complete picture), B/W Edition, B/W Sketch Cover (the same content as the B/W except for the cover which was the orignal conceptual drawing of RavenShadow), Wizard World '99 (identical content as the reprint but it has an alternative cover) and a very limited WW edition "re-marked" by Keu Cha (I am still working on aquiring this issue).

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#2: Can't Touch This
Author: J. Michael Straczynski -- Published: Oct 1999 -- Format: Single Comic
Click for larger image DESCRIPTION:
This issue explores the life, and untimely death, of Peter Dawson. Who was he? Who would want to kill him and who could even know how to kill an "invulnerable" man? It's a real-life look at what being superhuman would really be like and how sometimes, what you see isn't what you'd normally expect!

MONICA'S REVIEW:
Here we get introduced to Dr. Welles, the doctor who was put in charge of the Specials health and wellfare when they were still children. He was also responsible for finding out their vulnerabilities as well in case it was necessary one day. Doc tells us the history of some of the Specials, with most of the focus on Peter Dawson, since he is recounting his knowledge to the policemen investigating Peter's murder. The life (and death) of an invulnerable man is not what one might think. We are also introduced to Poet (previously, we only saw him as a child or as the narrator's voice) who has the responsibility to investigate the murders of the Specials. The issue ends with four densely written pages from his journal ... asking the questions: Who did it? Why? Who is next? Finally, the last page of the issue is an ad for NexusCorp with Flagg (Jason) as it's corporate symbol.

OTHER EDITIONS:
I have collected a few other versions of this issue ... Dynamic Forces Exclusive (exactly the same content but it has an alternative cover), and Dynamic Forces Exclusive Gold (exactly the same as the DFE version except for a gold DFE seal and RS logo).

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#3: Whatever Happened to Lee Jackson?
Author: J. Michael Straczynski -- Published: Dec 1999 -- Format: Single Comic
Click for larger image DESCRIPTION:
After killing a counselor in the camp for super-powered youths, Lee Jackson must embark on a life on the run—evading the government that is now cracking down on he and all of the other "gifted ones". This story explores Jackson's life only to find it all fall apart ... and how he becomes an avenging figure at the end.

MONICA'S REVIEW:
In order to figure out why the murders of the Specials were happening, Poet has to find out more information about the first Special who died. He feels the two are connected somehow. So, Poet (John) goes to visit Randy (Ravenshadow) who has apparently figured out what happened to Lee Jackson since he ran away from the Special's "camp". It is an interesting tale and one that leads to the discovery of something that would change the lives of all the Specials forever.

NOTE: If you are having difficulty distinguishing between Poet and Ravenshadow, you are not alone. Both have deep blue eyes ... long, wild, raven black hair ... long cloaks/coats. Just try to remember that Poet is the one with the trench coat while Ravenshadow has a ponytail (at least for the most part). Don't worry, the artistry gets better later on so just try to bear with it until then.

JMS AT B5 SAID:
12.4.1999
In RS #3, a comment was made that Flagg had to change his name over the copyright. Was this for real[?]

To a certain extent. After the PR for Rising Stars got going, Howard Chaykin noticed the Flagg name, and he did (and does) have the rights to Flagg. I'd thought it was only American Flagg! that he had the rights to, and it wouldn't be an issue, but apparently it's otherwise.

It wasn't a big deal, really...I saw Howard one night at dinner (we're not close friends, but we are friendly acquaintances, and I've always been a big fan of his work), and we chatted about it, and I suggested the solution that's in the book, he laughed, thought it was a great and funny idea, and that was the end of it.

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#4: Masques
Author: J. Michael Straczynski -- Published: Jan 2000 -- Format: Single Comic
Click for larger image DESCRIPTION:
A young woman who was born as a Special doesn't manifest any powers or abilities. Or does she? Sometimes in life, the right circumstance just needs to present itself. We get to see through another set of eyes, what is was like growing up in Pederson. We also get more information from her on some of the others, most especially Matthew Bright and Jason Miller (Flagg).

MONICA'S REVIEW:
We get a lot of background info on many of the Specials, this time seen through the eyes of Cathy, a Special who never manifested powers ... yet. Most of the focus is on Matthew Bright (his secret identity and how he became a cop) and Flagg (how he became the corporate identity of NexusCorp) but there are many others who we see a glimpse of. It has to be hard to tell the story of 113 people but I feel this issue tries to take care of that in a interesting way.

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#5: The World Between
Author: J. Michael Straczynski -- Published: Mar 2000 -- Format: Single Comic
Click for larger image DESCRIPTION:
Poet has a discussion with Clarence Mack, one of the specials who had the ability to enter the dreams of another and share it. John (Poet) figures he may know secrets which the specials have never shared with anyone else, and/or may be able to find out such secrets if need be. Clarence admits he knows something to help John ... he knows who the killer is!

MONICA'S REVIEW:
This is where everything changes. We get to dreamwalk with Poet (John) and Clarence Mack where we find out more about some of Poet's publishing troubles, the emergence Chandra's powers (and who she loves), and of course ... the killer of the Specials. I would be really surprised if you predicted who it was. There are clues, but I still was amazed at who it was. Poet also has a conversation with Lionel Zerb (a Special who speaks to the recently departed) which has one of the coolest effects that I have ever seen on the last page.

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#6: Things Fall Apart (Part 1/3)
Author: J. Michael Straczynski -- Published: Apr 2000 -- Format: Single Comic
Click for larger image DESCRIPTION:
Patriot (Flagg) and Matthew Bright star in the next incredible chapter of the acclaimed Rising Stars story line! Also, Poet begins to confront the man responsible for the murders, and a dark alliance starts to form between the killer and other specials interested in self-preservation.

MONICA'S REVIEW:
The story line really kicks into high gear as the Specials start to take sides in the war that is inevitable between them. We get to see the point of view from many major players in this issue ... Poet, Jason (Flagg/Patriot) and Joshua (Sanctuary). If you watched Babylon 5 and wondered how the Telepath War would play out, this comic series may well draw some parallels to that conflict. I recommend that you sit down with the last three comics in this act because you are in for one hell of a ride.

NOTE: This has to be one of the poorest drawn comics so far in this series. It gets really hard to distinguish between Joshua, Jerry (Pyre) and Jason (Patriot).

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#7: Things Fall Apart (Part 2/3)
Author: J. Michael Straczynski -- Published: May 2000 -- Format: Single Comic
Click for larger image DESCRIPTION:
Sides are taken, lines drawn, alliances formed. Now that the identity of the one responsible for killing the Specials is known, the close family unit that was their life until now begins to shatter into mistrust, suspicion and violence.

MONICA'S REVIEW:
The tension and action turns up a notch as the preemptive strike that the killer has taken goes into effect. The Specials that are not fully aware of what is going on are damned if they fight, damned if they stay and damned if they flee. So, Poet (John) takes a stand against the most powerful of them all, Matthew Bright, in order to buy the other some time. Now, the secret of Poet's power and the reason why he is responsible for investigating the murders is revealed. With great power comes great responsibility.

OTHER EDITIONS:
I have collected another version of this issue ... Dynamic Forces Chrome.

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#8: Things Fall Apart (Part 3/3)
Author: J. Michael Straczynski -- Published: Jun 2000 -- Format: Single Comic
Click for larger image DESCRIPTION:
This conclusion of the three-part story sets the stage for all out warfare between various factions of the Specials, as the world looks on with horror at what they have created.

MONICA'S REVIEW:
Doc Welles takes over the narration here for a bit as we see him running from the authorities. As Doc recovers from his injuries in his "jail cell", he begins to piece together what is happening. It is worse than he imagined as he watches a Special transform right before his eyes. A dramatic turn of events takes place when some of the Specials are forced to make a stand. The balanced is tipped and nothing will ever be the same again.

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Issue: 1 · 2 · 3 · 4 · 5 · 6 · 7 · 8
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Additional Info

Individual issues of the comics cannot be purchased through the normal book retailers like Amazon.com®. Instead, you can order the individual comics from our recommended and reliable internet retailers.

Also, many thanks goes to JMS Comics for being a great resource! (Note: They are getting a bit outdated)

Finally, a lot of work has gone into the B5 Spoiler Junkies site. It is an informative site but be warned ... it contains LOTS of spoilers!

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Created: Jul.13.2003
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