Issue 5 Synopsis

Rising Stars 5

Review by Mike Helba

In Issue 5 of Rising Stars, John Simon visits Clarence Mack and Lionel Zerb, two Specials who can see into types of netherworlds. He thinks they may both have information on the killer.

Clarence Mack can enter the dreams of other people. Lionel Zerb can communicate with people who have recently died.

It is fitting that these two characters are paired together in one story. They both live vicariously in their own way. Clarence can visit others in their dreams, but he has no friends. Similarly, Lionel lives a life isolated from other people, but he has an endless supply of the dead willing to tell him their stories.

With this issue, the plot finally kicks into gear. While there are a few flashbacks, most of them are to events very near the present. The nonlinearity of the story works well to convey the chaotic aspect of the dream world in which John and Clarence meet.

I will not spoil the clever twist in this issue. I will point out that J. Michael Straczynski clearly provides a clue at the beginning of the story for observant readers and those reading a second time.

The second big surprise in this issue relates to the plot of the entire series, and it is a classic Straczynski trademark: This story is not about what we thought it was going to be about. It is not a mystery about a series of murders. Straczynski reveals the identity of the murderer in this issue. It is evident that Issue 6 will take off in a completely new direction.

This issue includes a very interesting trick for the comic book medium. One page shows Lionel Zerb sitting alone in his empty home. When held up to a light, the images of several recently dead people and their dialog balloons become visible. The dead people are printed in reverse on the back of the page. Unfortunately, in every copy I have examined the printing on the back page is offset improperly. The images do not appear exactly where they should on the front page, and the most vital word balloon is partially obscured.

This issue is the first with a letter column. There are two letters of praise. One writer is a regular Top Cow reader and the other is not. The editor also reveals on this page that Rising Stars action figures will be coming this Summer.

The synopsis provides a detailed summary of Issue 5. It contains spoilers.