Rising Stars 6
Review by Mike Helba
Issue 6 of Rising Stars begins a three-part story that changes the direction of the series. At the beginning, Rising Stars appeared to be a mystery story in which John Simon hunted for the killer of the other Specials. However, in a twist that is not unexpected for J. Michael Straczynski, the identity of the killer was revealed in Issue 5.
I will discuss the killer below, so if you don't know who it is yet, go read Issue 5 or its synopsis before continuing here.
This three-part story is titled, "Things Fall Apart". In this first part the killer begins collecting his allies as John Simon expected.
The killer is Jason Miller, the NexusCorp hero who changes his name from Flagg to Patriot in this issue. The allies he recruits are Jerry Montrose (Pyre) and Joshua Kane (Sanctuary). The alliance of Jason with Jerry is an interesting one since they are the two characters who have been established as enemies. Jason isn't as interested in Joshua Kane as he is in Joshua's father, William. Mr. Kane is the director of the Cathedral of Light and has many powerful connections.
The intent of the Preview issue seemed to be to make Jerry Montrose into a sympathetic character. Straczynski's writing skill is evident here, putting a well-rounded character we care about on what we assume is the wrong side rather than using two-dimensional villains.
Joshua Kane is obviously the weak link in Jason's conspiracy. He doesn't have the stomach for his father's ruthless conservatism. He has doubts about what they are doing, but he also has years of experience ignoring his conscience and doing what his father says. It has been hinted in earlier issues that Joshua has a secret. Jason and Jerry refer to him as "that way", possibly indicating that he is gay. His father would certainly explode if he ever learned of this. Will Joshua's conscience ever prompt him to change sides?
Jason's group makes an end run around John Simon and goes to the government with a false story about other Specials seeking to overthrow the government. This gives Jason a legitimacy that John will never have, and also gives him another unexpected ally.
I have only two minor complaints about this issue. The first concerns the art by Christian Zanier. Several scenes have the three young men together. More effort should have been made to ensure that they are always easily distinguishable from each other.
My second nit concerns the realism of Mr. Kane's position at the end of the story. The Specials are obviously needed to fight other Specials who may resist arrest, but Paulson should be the Normal in charge of the operation. Why does the Senator speak to Mr. Kane as if he is involved. Even with his political connections, he is still a civilian. He should be thanked for his patriotism and sent on his way.
J. Michael Straczynski has taken a significant amount of heat online because of his portrayal of Mr. Kane as a stereotypical negative religious figure. While Mr. Kane is definitely an unsavory character, Straczynski usually portrayed religion in a positive light on Babylon 5. Straczynski has argued that these two facts taken together make him by definition even handed.
The synopsis provides a detailed summary of Issue 6. It contains spoilers.