Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Rising Stars #22 - A Review

Written by: J. Michael Straczynski
Penciled by: Brent Anderson
Inked by: Brent Anderson
Colored by: Brian Buccellato
Lettered by: Spehar, Dreamer
Editor: Scott Tucker
Publisher: Top Cow Productions

SCENE: Day. Wednesday Morning. 11:00 a.m. A small comic shop in Texas.

“STARMAN” Matt Morrison ENTERS. At the counter is JENNIFER, a co-worker.

Starman: Morning, folks!

Jennifer: Morning, Matt!

Starman: Sorry I’m a little late. Overslept a bit. Was up all night watching the election returns. It’s tight, but I’m sure that John Kerry will wait it out to the last recount.

Jennifer: Oh, Matt. Hadn’t you heard? They just announced on the radio. Kerry conceded.

Starman: WHAT?!?! With all the reports of voter fraud and lost ballots in Ohio? He’s giving up? Just like that?

Jennifer: Yes. But cheer up! There’s some good news!

Starman: I could use it. They’ll probably be sending the wagon for us Red-State liberals any moment now.

Jennifer: Probably. But guess what came out today? Rising Stars #22!

Starman: Ha! Good one. That almost made me feel like smiling.

Jennifer: No, really! See?

JENNIFER hands STARMAN a comic.

Starman: Good Lord… this is real!

Jennifer: Yes! And you’ll never believe it… but Superman/Batman came out today too.

Starman: What? After less than two months?

Jennifer: Yes. See! Things aren’t all that bad…

ENTER, A ZOMBIE. It ambles up to the counter.

Zombie: Ughhhhhhh…

Starman: (still reading his Rising Stars) Jennifer?

Jennifer: Yeah?

Starman: Did Avengers 503 come out today too?

Jennifer: Yeah!

Starman: There you go, sir. Just look at the start of the bookshelves.

Zombie: Ughhhhhhh…

Starman: No, there’s NO limit on how many copies you can buy. Freaking Marvel zombies…

Suddenly, comprehension dawns.

Starman: Wait a second! He smells awfully good for a comic book reader! He must be the walking dead!

Jennifer: No, that didn’t come out. But we do have two other Steve Niles books…

Starman: No! Jennifer, don’t you see? Bush re-elected? Superman/Batman coming out on time? Rising Stars #22 finally hitting the shelves? The dead rising from the grave?!?! Don’t you see what’s happened?

Jennifer: Oh no! You mean…

Starman: Yes! The End-Times are upon us and the zombie legions of the damned have risen to destroy all that is good and decent.

Jennifer: You know, Bush hasn’t even made his victory speech…

Starman: (not hearing her) Yes. The End Times are here. The final battle between good and evil is set to play upon the world stage. And these undead bastards think they can come in here and taint this place with their negative energy, unclean presence and high-volume speculation?

STARMAN reaches under the counter, pulling out a shotgun.

Starman: Not on my shift!


Well, I hope you all enjoyed the above proposal for my upcoming comic: Starman Morrison: Action Comic Geek! Of course those of you expecting a review of Rising Stars #22 are probably wondering what the heck is going on.

Well, the above was written in about 20 minutes. It is sophomoric, preachy and contains very little serious social commentary or political satire. And yet, despite it’s obvious flaws, it is STILL a much more effective political piece than the new issue of Rising Stars.

Two pages quickly recount the events of the first 21 issues and the #0 special. letting everyone know what has happened before. We are then launched into this issue where… not much happens. The artwork falls flat as well. Anderson’s work here looks sloppy and rushed; ironic considering that this book is about.. what, three years late now?

Still, this is probably not the fault of Anderson. Nor is it likely the fault of Straczynski. Or even Top Cow, whose going behind Straczynski’s back on the plans for a “Rising Stars” movie prompted the whole mess that delayed this book for so long. This book, even when it was coming out regularly, always read better in the trade paperback format than it did as a monthly title. And in the wake of the last week, the plot of this issue, centering around political intrigue; it pales in comparison to the real life political intrigue that occurred the week before this comic was released.

The sad fact is that in the post 9-11 environment, this story is no longer as shocking as it was three years ago. A few elitists in government lying to their citizens and conspiring against them to increase their personal power? The idealists we’d hoped would fix everything not allowed to lift a finger to solve the problems because fixed problems aren’t profitable? Not as big a flight of fancy as we’d hope.

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