Rising Stars 13
Review by Mike Helba
Did I just read Issue 16?
That's what it feels like. Issue 13 overturns so many tables and brings us so many things that we were waiting for that it feels like the end of the second act.
I expected the Chicago occupation to end, but I didn't expect the entire Critical Maas situation to be resolved this soon.
I expected a fight between Jason Miller and Matthew Bright, but I didn't expect it this soon.
Some surprising revelations are made, including the truth behind Jason Miller's killing spree.
So, where are we now? I feel like I did at the end of the Shadow War in Season Four of Babylon 5. When the First Ones left the galaxy, I said, "Now what? The story can't be over already." Joe Straczynski was quick to remind me that the Earth Alliance was in the middle of a civil war.
I think that's where we stand now in Rising Stars. Note that I didn't say, "the end of Babylon 5's fourth season". I said, "the end of the Shadow War". The end of the fourth season was the separation between the climax and the denouement of the story. The end of the Shadow War was the separation between one conflict and another that we had forgotten about. We're obviously nowhere near the end of Rising Stars yet with Issue 13 being the beginning of the second half. However, I believe we are at a point where we will move from one conflict to another that we have forgotten.
What is the nature of this conflict? Well, for one thing I think it will be more cerebral. The last several episodes of Babylon 5's Shadow War were a feast for fans of computer graphics. Every time you turned around there were ships exploding and planets dying. It was almost becoming more of a special effects extravaganza rather than an intelligent science fiction show. I believe that Rising Stars has suffered the same fate. The past few issues have favored superhero slugfests over other types of writing. So, I think the next challenge our heroes face will be more intellectual and a little less flashy. As with Babylon 5, I expect to learn that intense drama can be more exciting than special effects.
So, what have we forgotten? Obviously, there is the conflict with the Normals. No one is going to believe that Critical Maas could control other people, and even if they did, there exists the possibility that another Special has that same power. The Normals will not trust the Specials. Senator McClellan obviously hoped that Matthew Bright and Jason Miller would wipe out a few dozen of their brethren in this issue.
There will still be internal conflict among the Specials. Can they all forgive and forget? There are still criminal Specials, and even some of those under Critical Maas' control might have followed her freely if given a choice. Will the Special most affected by the revelation in this issue be able to reconcile? In my review of Issue 12, I expressed concern about how Critical Maas' power would affect the story. Hopefully we'll see next issue that the repercussions are handled in Straczynski's usual intelligent manner.
Many of us have also forgotten about the force that is the source of the Specials' powers. Where did it come from? At the end of Issue 13, John Simon questions their purpose. Could this be a lead-in to an investigation into the true nature of the force?
I must confess that superhero slugfests are not my cup of tea, so I'm personally glad that this phase of the story ended sooner than I expected. I look forward to a more intellectual conflict in the upcoming issues.
The synopsis provides a detailed summary of Issue 13. It contains spoilers.