Issue 13 Review

Rising Stars 13 Synopsis


The Specials battle each other in Chicago as helpless innocent civilians look on. John Simon compares it to the Russian defense of Stalingrad during World War II. The Specials who work for Critical Maas are making those with John Simon pay dearly for each inch of ground they claim.

John knows that most of the Specials they are fighting against are not operating by their own free wills. They are under the mind control of Critical Maas. Therefore, John's team is trying to disable them without killing them.

John realizes that this battle is a setup. Critical Maas wants them to kill each other. When a Special dies, his remaining energy is distributed among the surviving Specials. If enough Specials die, Critical Maas will become the permanent dominant personality in her body, forever suppressing the original personality of Stephanie Maas.

Senator McClellan meets with Matthew Bright and Jason Miller in Washington, D.C. Reports of massive destruction in Chicago and the detection of a nuclear blast concern the President. NexusCorp has loaned Jason Miller to the federal government because he and Matthew are the strongest of the Specials.

The Senator extends Matthew's legal jurisdiction to include Chicago and asks the two men to go there and resolve the situation. The Senator emphasizes that they are allowed to take any steps necessary to stop the fighting.

Matthew asks about the offer of immunity that John's team received. The Senator never agreed with the Justice Department's decision, but now that civilian lives are in danger from the massive fighting the offer has been revoked. McClellan reminds them again that they are expected to take any and every means necessary to stop the fighting. He obviously hopes that Matthew and Jason will wipe out all the troublemakers on both sides.

Jason dons his Patriot mask, and the two men fly off towards Chicago. As they fly, they note that they haven't seen much of each other in the past ten years. Patriot has kept a low profile so that NexusCorp's image wouldn't be influenced by the situation in Chicago. Matthew has recovered from his battle with John.

Matthew remembers how John could have killed him but didn't. John told him that Jason was behind the murders of the Specials. Matthew doesn't know who to trust, but he has a feeling that he'll learn the answer during this trip to Chicago.

Chandra lifts a huge slab of concrete off an innocent man. She promises to take him to a doctor, but he says it's too late. He asks why this has happened to them because they never did anything to the Specials. Chandra apologizes that he was caught up in their battle. He can't understand how she can be sorry because she's the most beautiful woman he has ever seen. The man dies.

Critical Maas taunts Chandra telepathically. She says that Chandra wants the man to see her feeling sorry for him, but he only sees her as beautiful. Maas reveals that with more deaths among the Specials she is now able to touch the thoughts of other Specials and control her group. Chandra tells her she's insane, but Maas just turns it around and says that Chandra has a crazy person in her mind. Critical Maas notes that Chandra is grieving for a Normal and points out that they are making it too easy for her.

Several new Specials arrive in Chicago. They watched the news on television and come to help. Critical Maas takes a look inside some of their minds.

Ted Kramer has a wife and kids. He doesn't want to be a hero, but he feels like he must carry his weight.

Ed Massie is scared. He doesn't want to die, and he doesn't want to kill anyone. Critical Maas reveals that Stephanie Maas had a crush on him years ago.

Critical Maas says John's team is making it very easy because only she is willing to do what needs to be done. She's going to get everyone on her side by giving them nowhere else to go. She taunts Stephanie within her own mind, telling her that she's going to love what happens next.

Critical Maas contacts all the Specials telepathically. She reminds them of the Normals who are watching from the ruins, the witnesses who can tell who is fighting for Critical Maas and who is fighting against her. She orders her group to kill them.

John realizes that the trap has been sprung. With Maas' group killing Normals, John's group can't hold back any longer. They have to kill their opponents to save lives, and that will make Critical Maas stronger.

As the intensity of the battle grows, something streaks into the city and begins dispatching Specials. It is Matthew Bright. John begins to feel hope for the first time until he sees Jason arriving.

Jason slams into Matthew at full speed. Matthew is confused. "It was always just me," Jason explains.

Critical Maas corrects him telepathically. It was the two of them. Jason was the first Special she took control of. Stephanie liked Jason, so when Jason returned to Pederson to visit his family, Critical Maas nudged Stephanie into becoming involved with him. Critical Maas was still very weak and trapped inside Stephanie, but Jason's one moment of weakness was when he was making love. She took him over, and forced him to begin killing the low-powered Specials.

As Critical Maas tells her story, Jason and Matthew begin fighting. Maas wonders how powerful she'll become when Matthew is dead.

John wants to fly to the rooftop to help Matthew, but Randy Fisk reminds him that the Normals on the ground will die if they don't stay to protect them. Matthew is on his own.

As the battle between the two strongest Specials rages on the rooftop, Matthew tries to speak into Jason's mind. He urges Jason to resist Critical Maas' control.

As Matthew is stunned, he flashes back to the funeral of his Uncle Alex. He asked his father why his uncle had to die. Daniel Bright told him that his uncle was a police officer, and police officers have to put the lives of others before their own. The young Matthew asked if his uncle could have run away. Daniel said he could have, but if he had other people would have died. He stayed and became a hero. Matthew saw his father cry that day.

Critical Maas comes out of hiding and floats above the rooftop. She doesn't want to miss the end of this fight. The Specials always wondered who would win a fight between Jason and Matthew. Matthew lunges at Maas, but Jason grabs his foot and slams him into the roof.

Critical Maas orders Jason to finish the fight.

Suddenly, Critical Maas sees a woman clutching two girls in a burning, collapsing building. She flashes back to Stephanie Maas' teenage years when her father was beating her with a belt for breaking something. He wanted her to be afraid of him. That was the genesis of the Critical Maas personality. She was created for Stephanie to hide behind, because it's not right for little girls to be afraid. The sight of the two terrified girls - victims of Critical Maas - reveals the hypocrisy of her existence. For a brief moment, the Stephanie Maas personality becomes dominant again.

Jason is free of Critical Maas' influence. He stutters an apology to Matthew before flying away, consumed by shame.

John realizes that Critical Maas doesn't control the other Specials any more. He begins flying to Matthew's aid.

Stephanie stands rigid, fighting to keep Critical Maas inside. She begs Matthew to help the woman with the two girls. Matthew struggles to his feet, flies to the building, and breaks through the wall. He holds the collapsing wreckage up long enough for the women and her girls to flee. Then, as he remembers his final goodbye to his Uncle Alex, the building collapses on the hero.

John finds Stephanie on the rooftop. Stephanie says she is sorry and scared. John promises to get her the help she needs, but Stephanie disagrees. She can feel Critical Maas fighting to get back out, and it will all start over again. Stephanie never had any of the abilities that Critical Maas demonstrated. She always wanted to fly. Before John can react, Stephanie steps off the rooftop into the burning wreckage below.

John returns to the street level where Chandra is helping everyone flee from the collapsing buildings. Randy arrives with the broken body of Matthew Bright. Randy says he still has a very weak pulse. John prepares to take Matthew to a hospital where Dr. Welles had briefed the doctors on how to treat Specials.

Chandra asks about the surviving Normals. They look on with no gratitude for having their lives saved or their city liberated. They only fear the Specials. John says the only thing to do is leave. Randy offers to take the Specials to a safe location, but he doesn't know how long it will remain safe. John promises to catch up to them later.

As John and Matthew fly off in one direction and the other Specials fly in another, John wonders if Matthew's sacrifice will teach them anything. Have they wasted their gifts, or has Matthew shown them a better way? John just hopes that there's still time for Matthew, the Specials, and the world.