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Rising Stars, Vol. 1: Born In Fire Paperback – January 1, 2001
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* It's sometimes hard to tell which characters are which at first. (And why does Flagg/Patriot have black hair in the first issue and blond hair later? That doesn't help matters.)
* It's hard to get a read on what the various characters are all about. Give us more characterization, more motivation, more reason to give a darn about them. That's especially true of the lead protagonist, who's very bland and unsympathetic. It's hard to care about a conflict unless you first care about the people involved in it--that's Writing 101 stuff, very surprisingly neglected here, given the way JMS handled the Narn-Centauri conflict in Babylon 5.
* SPOILER! The scenes where the killer reveals himself to Joshua and his father and where they create a conspiracy through the government are just horribly paced, seemingly thrown together in a heartbeat with no decent setup or sense of drama. You're left to guess at any deeper motivations, and not in the good sense of being left wondering in anticipation, but rather just wondering why the author painted everything in such broad, clumsy strokes.
* As others have noted, the second half of the book devolves into very juvenile, cliched superheroics. The author is capable of way more than that, and so are comics (see Watchmen again, for a classic example). Please, no kids' stuff, JMS!
Hopefully the storytelling will gain refinement, depth, and better pacing in the later issues, but I'm not even sure if I'll give them a try now.
As for the art, it's all over the map technically and stylistically, thanks to an army of different pencillers, inkers, and colorists. It starts fine and mostly keeps going downhill, with the last few issues pretty pedestrian, if not weak.
The real problem is that no matter how nice some individual images look, the visual storytelling falls flat almost everywhere--just one jumbled, cluttered, hyper-dense page after another. Check out David Lloyd's work on V for Vendetta to see a master of pacing, grace, and restraint at work.
This series has some potential, but it really doesn't capitalize on it in this volume.
JMS has clearly given a lot of thought to what makes each character tick, and how they fit in (or don't fit in). For the most part, the characters seem to be drawn from real-world personalities, exaggerated to superpowered proportions, which helps the book's psychological plausibility.
Rising Stars is also totally engrossing. I just bought the second volume and I can't wait until it arrives.
This is the 1st of a 3 part series.
Great graphic novel. What would the world do if suddenly there were 113 people with special powers. Will the world love them, fear them or hate them.
What would you do if suddenly you found out you have special powers. Will that automatically make you a good person? Will you help the world or only use it for personal gain?
I highly recommend the series.