Issue 17 Review

Rising Stars 17 Synopsis

"Time Passes"

Twenty years have past. Jason Miller flies into the window of Mathew Bright's hospital room as he does every night. He playfully invites Matt to beat him up for pestering him so often. When the comatose Mathew doesn't reply, Jason asks him what he wants to hear about. He carries on a one-sided conversation as if Mathew is replying. The resulting topic is old friends. Jason cuts Matthew's hair as he begins his story, which is occasionally interrupted by coughs.

Elizabeth Chandra called Jason recently. She was putting on a benefit show in Atlantic City. She and some other Specials wanted to see Jason and be assured that he is all right.

Chandra doesn't do many benefit shows any more. They are rarely needed because of the way the Specials have changed the world in the past 20 years. Jason describes Chandra's performance for a crowd he paid one thousand dollars each. Chandra looks different to every man who sees her, but they all see the same thing: the most beautiful woman in the world. As a child, Jason asked Chandra if she had the same effect on women. That question earned him a slap.

Jason digresses for a moment about how as children they thought they were going to live forever.

Jason can tell that Chandra is tired. Being beautiful isn't useful for physically improving the word, so she used her talents to raise billions of dollars for good causes. Jason suspects that Chandra could sense him watching her performance from hiding. Jason misses Chandra more than any of the other Specials. He interprets Matthew's lack of response as sharing the same feeling. Jason says that neither of them are in any shape to visit Chandra.

Jason washes Matthew's face as he continues with his next story. Brody Kempler was a boy who was housed with the Specials even though he never exhibited any powers. He was a genius many times over, the smartest person on the planet, and that was before the deaths of other Specials increased everyone's powers. He never told anyone. He sold various small inventions under different names to fund his research. Recently he went to Switzerland and announced a number of groundbreaking inventions that will change the world.

Jason visited Brody to congratulate him. It had been a long time since Jason had let anyone see him. Brody retched into a toilet, which Jason considered taking it pretty well. Jason told Brody what he has been doing.

Jason's personal mission to change the world is nuclear disarmament. He is collecting every nuclear warhead and hiding it in a mile-deep hole in the arctic. Some people support him while others shoot at him, sometimes damaging the nuclear warheads they are trying to protect.

Jason muses again on the childhood belief that they would live forever.

Jason asked Brody for advice and help. Brody said that Jason's situation was beyond his abilities. Jason lies to Matthew, telling him that Brody said he would be all right. Jason also asked Brody about Matthew's condition and got the same response.

Jason says that despite his promise he stopped to see his family on his way to visit Matthew. Jason tells Matthew about the use of canaries in mining shafts. Since they are smaller and more vulnerable, they die more quickly from poisonous gasses. Jason speaks of fragile canaries, but he thinks of his fragile children running into his arms.

Jason never knew that he was contaminated with radiation from a damaged nuclear warhead until his family was dead and buried. He tells Matthew that he said hello for him, and that his family said to say hello back. He breaks down for a minute and then asks to change the subject.

John Simon disappeared nearly two years ago. Brody told Jason that he is in Mexico. Jason wonders what they could be working on together and whether he will live to see it.

Randy Fisk became the hero he always wanted to be, wiping out crime across the country. He also began talking to people about hope and picking themselves up. He tells them to sit on their front porches because that is where they have to be to reclaim their neighborhoods. By sitting on their front porches, people can notice both the good and bad in their neighborhoods. People took Randy's message to heart, and some even began wearing Ravenshadow masks and forming community watch groups. They witness everything, and no one knows who they are until they testify in court. Crime disappears when the masks are nearby.

Randy spoke to the United Nations General Assembly a week previously. Some nations don't want the equality that the Specials promise, but recently Ravenshadow masks have appeared in those countries. Brody told Jason that he will be contributing some of his money to Randy's cause.

David Paulson was speaking ill of the Specials on talk shows a few weeks previously. However, he disappeared shortly after that. Jason does not know that he traveled to a U. S. military installation.

Jason is wracked by a coughing fit that leaves blood on the carpet.

Jason tells Matthew that Jerry Montrose is semi-retired. Jerry wiped out the South American cocaine industry and still puts a stop to anyone who tries to get back into business. He lives in Las Vegas now. The casinos pay him to demonstrate how clean their casinos are. He shows up at a table, spends the house's money, poses for pictures, and then relaxes at the pool with an entourage of scantily-clad women. Jason jokes that he should have killed Jerry years ago.

Jason tells Matthew that he should leave. He has disposed of most of the nuclear warheads in the world, but he is afraid that the owners of the few remaining warheads might adopt a "use it or loose it" attitude.

Jason says that it's his fault that Matthew is in a coma. He leans down and promises to take care of Matthew for as long as he can. Jason is thin, grey, and old beyond his years. His lips are drawn back and several teeth are missing. Prolonged radiation poisoning is not pretty.

Jason talks to Matthew as he did when they were children, urging him to wake up and see Randy's new comics or John's new poem. They're going to live forever.

Jason says goodnight and flies out of the window.

A soldier spying with night vision goggles reports that Yellow Bird has flown out of the hospital. His contact promises to inform Eagle One as soon as his meeting is complete.

In the high powered meeting, twelve men discuss the promising results of their experiments, which began after photographs indicated that Jason Miller was suffering from radiation sickness. One of the men notes that radiation isn't listed as one of Jason's weaknesses. Paulson points out that he wasn't encouraged to expose the children to radiation. Another man points out that for the same reason they can't use radiation as a weapon against the Specials now because they will cause civilian casualties. Paulson asks why this is a problem. When challenged he says that one prerogative of age is that one can never tell if he is serious or addled.

The man goes on to report that the Specials derived their powers from some sort of cosmic energy. It is possible that they may be vulnerable to a similar form of energy. Researchers subjected skin samples retained since the Specials' childhood to various radioactive isotopes. Recently they decided to try an electromagnetic pulse. Since an EMP can cause a power source to fail, it might halt the energy-based powers of the Specials. Tests indicate that a powerful EMP will make a Special temporarily vulnerable.

Paulson confirms that the researchers can't be sure of the effect until they actually try it. Paulson plans to begin the hunt and the test the next day. The other man asks about the choice of a test subject, but Paulson already has one in mind. Certain South American friends have made complaints, and they might as wll kill two birds with one stone.

Paulson orders his team to Las Vegas while an unsuspecting Jerry Montrose chats with his bikini models.