This week on the Major Spoilers Podcast we dive into the Rising Stars Compendium from Top Cow Productions.

Rising Stars is a 24-issue comic book limited series by J. Michael Straczynski about 113 people (called “Specials”) born with special abilities following the appearance of a mysterious light in the sky above Pederson, Illinois. The series explores how society may react to the advent of superpowers, and how those who are Specials may react towards society and each other. Rising Stars was one of the first comics produced under Straczynski’s own Joe’s Comics imprint for Top Cow Productions.

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About Author

Stephen Schleicher began his career writing for the Digital Media Online community of sites, including Digital Producer and Creative Mac covering all aspects of the digital content creation industry. He then moved on to consumer technology, and began the Coolness Roundup podcast. A writing fool, Stephen has freelanced for Sci-Fi Channel's Technology Blog, and Gizmodo. Still longing for the good ol' days, Stephen launched Major Spoilers in July 2006, because he is a glutton for punishment. You can follow him on Twitter @MajorSpoilers and tell him your darkest secrets...


  1. I remember coming across Rising Stars in ’03 during my freshman year of collage. Prior to reading the first 2 trades of it the last comic that I had read was somewhere in the second Clone Saga. Somehow with the combination of where I was in my life, and the actual content of the stories— it just clicked. It ended up being a few years after I read them that I actually got back into reading comics on a continual basis, but it was Rising Stars that reignighted that spark in me.

    As a sad footnote, I’ve been having a real hard time tracking down any of the trades of it, or the spin-off series in the years since. I had originally found them via my local libiary, but even there I haven’t been able to find them since. :(

  2. Tecrogue, they juste released a wonderfull compedium collection everything Rising Star… ever.

    i love JMS writing and RS is a good example of how good he can be (i said good, not perfect). the only problem with the series is the art. it’s not that bad, it’s just really generic.

  3. RS was the second book I got into through trades (The Walking Dead being the first), like his work on B5 & Jeremiah, JMS likes to use a wide brush to bring about the complex universes he creates. I think it is what Heroes COULD have been. JMS drew on some thematic conventions and superhero archetypes, and worked with them … he didn’t blatantly rip off and then sodomize the characters, like Loeb/Kring did.

  4. Whateveryone has said already here is valid,
    I share Tecrogue and Randallw’s condusion at not being able to readily track down content after the second “power” volume, but I’ve always put that down to the simple-mindedness of australian distributors.

    Doubledumbassonyou echoes a sentiment I had racing through my head as soon as I saw the first episode of heroes, and that was this was a tv show that was heavily influenced by this series. I mean you’ve got an astral phenomenon at the core of all this (Eclipse vs Meteor), a seemingly methodical and rarely duplicated set of powers distribution, a central whiny-emo-posterboy character that is linked up to the source and shares everyone’s power (peter petrelli vs poet) amongst many other things. I’d go so far as to say at least in it’s initial stages more of Heroes was adapted from Rising Stars than was from X-men, as the podcast posited several episodes ago.

    Anyway, I’ve only read the first two volumes, which I think is only 16 issues. What I read was really quite amazing for a graphic novel as Straczynski’s screenwriting background was evident from the get-go and imparted the story with the same feel and momentum as a tv show, but exactly the kind of tv series I’ve wanted to watch but never found. Until heroes. But yeah, Straczynski’s Rising Stars definitely set the bar for me at the time I read it, I’ve found plenty that have raised the bar higher since, but as far as approachable serialized heroism with mystery and genuine human emotion goes Rising Stars is a great read. I really recommend the last chapter of the second volume; a “filler” story entitled “Selah”, I teared up like a girly-man after that one.

  5. Incidentally I’m also Australian.

    All I’ve got is the volume up to Crticial Mass escaping etc, and a thin volume of pre-series short stories. I’ve heard what happens next but I had the impression that was because the writer released a novel continuing the story after his publisher was annoying.

  6. Thanks for that info Hermit!

    Hercules in NY and Randallw: Rising Stars was on hold for a while (year or few? I don’t remember exactly) when Straczynski and Top Cow had a dispute over (potential?) movie rights for the story. As of when I was reading in 2003 v. 3 there was still 2 years before v. 3 would be seeing the shelves in trade form.

    I know people have mentioned Heroes as having quite a few similarities with Rising Stars, but I still also remember when I saw the first episode of The 4400 I was pretty excited because I saw the similarities between the two pretty quickly… They ended up being pretty diffrent, but still the link broughty me onboard initially.

  7. Randallw, give us a hoy if you’re ever in melbourne, would be cool to meet a fellow spoiler-ite for a beer or something.

    Tecrogue, yeah I think that third trade eventually came out here, but it was such a long time between innings, that top cow really shot themselves in the foot. The drive to read it was gone. I will keep an eye out next time I’m in my LCS though.

  8. i haven’t read the spin-off series (collected in the compedium). i remember them from when they were coming out in single issues, and while they were entertainning, they were not that good. they are written by Fiona Avery, who is a fine writer, but nowhere near the caliber of JMS.

    the first trade is definitely the best, but the rest is very good too.

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