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Rising Stars, Vol. 1: Born in Fire

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TOP COW is proud to bring you issues 1-8 of the critically acclaimed series RISING STARS. This is the first story arc written by J. Michael Straczynski and tells the tale of the beginnings of the Specials. With new cover by MIDNIGHT NATION artist Gary Frank. This collection is the perfect way to revisit the earlier issues of RISING STARS in one sitting or to discover for t TOP COW is proud to bring you issues 1-8 of the critically acclaimed series RISING STARS. This is the first story arc written by J. Michael Straczynski and tells the tale of the beginnings of the Specials. With new cover by MIDNIGHT NATION artist Gary Frank. This collection is the perfect way to revisit the earlier issues of RISING STARS in one sitting or to discover for the first time the most realistic superhero epic since Alan Moore's Watchmen.


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TOP COW is proud to bring you issues 1-8 of the critically acclaimed series RISING STARS. This is the first story arc written by J. Michael Straczynski and tells the tale of the beginnings of the Specials. With new cover by MIDNIGHT NATION artist Gary Frank. This collection is the perfect way to revisit the earlier issues of RISING STARS in one sitting or to discover for t TOP COW is proud to bring you issues 1-8 of the critically acclaimed series RISING STARS. This is the first story arc written by J. Michael Straczynski and tells the tale of the beginnings of the Specials. With new cover by MIDNIGHT NATION artist Gary Frank. This collection is the perfect way to revisit the earlier issues of RISING STARS in one sitting or to discover for the first time the most realistic superhero epic since Alan Moore's Watchmen.

30 review for Rising Stars, Vol. 1: Born in Fire

  1. 4 out of 5

    Stephen

    3.5 stars. This one is smack dab in the middle of 3 and 4 stars. I really liked the overall concept of the story which deals with 113 humans who, after a freak event while they were in the womb, are born with special powers and become known as...are you ready for it...."Specials." Each of the Specials has different powers (some standard super hero stuff like strength, flight, healing, invulnerability, pyrokinesis, etc.) and some more interesting ones (for example, one person can enter anothers d 3.5 stars. This one is smack dab in the middle of 3 and 4 stars. I really liked the overall concept of the story which deals with 113 humans who, after a freak event while they were in the womb, are born with special powers and become known as...are you ready for it...."Specials." Each of the Specials has different powers (some standard super hero stuff like strength, flight, healing, invulnerability, pyrokinesis, etc.) and some more interesting ones (for example, one person can enter anothers dreams, another can speak to the recently dead and another can actually raise the recently dead). Without giving away any spoilers, the plot revolves around the consequences of someone beginning to kill off the specials and various factions taking sides against one another. I thought the writing was good, the character treatment pretty intersting and the plot fairly well handled. The reason I did not rate the book higher is that I thought the plot was slow at times and the struggle at the heart of the plot was not overly compelling. Still, a good read and I will check out the next volume in the series.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Quentin Wallace

    This was very impressive. This was published in 2000, right around the time comics shifted from being a bunch of pretty art to really good stories. You have an asteroid (for lack of a better term) that strikes a town and gives all of the in utero children superpowers when they are born. However, as they get older their powers start to fade. One of them then determines that everytime one of them dies, their power is distributed among the survivors. So he begins to murder his fellow heroes. Eventua This was very impressive. This was published in 2000, right around the time comics shifted from being a bunch of pretty art to really good stories. You have an asteroid (for lack of a better term) that strikes a town and gives all of the in utero children superpowers when they are born. However, as they get older their powers start to fade. One of them then determines that everytime one of them dies, their power is distributed among the survivors. So he begins to murder his fellow heroes. Eventually, some join him and some oppose him, so we end up with a superpowered war of sorts. The story is much deeper than my short synopsis, but that's the gist of it. It's got nice art and is very well written. It's also very deep as the writer explores the human side of children suddenly growing up with superpowers. Highly recommend this for any superhero fans.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jamie Connolly

    Read all the volumes in one day. I had to catch a couple of flights with a layover and just kept on reading. It was really good.

  4. 4 out of 5

    This Is Not The Michael You're Looking For

    The first Act of the limited run graphic novel, Rising Stars is an interesting twist on the superhero genre. It has some obvious similarities to Watchmen in taking a somewhat unprecedented view of what it means to be a superhero, although it is nowhere near as dark. Also, unlike Watchmen where the heroes were (with one glaring exception) more-or-less normal people (well skilled, with lots of gadgets, but not super-powered) who dressed up to fight crime, the heroes in this story have abilities, b The first Act of the limited run graphic novel, Rising Stars is an interesting twist on the superhero genre. It has some obvious similarities to Watchmen in taking a somewhat unprecedented view of what it means to be a superhero, although it is nowhere near as dark. Also, unlike Watchmen where the heroes were (with one glaring exception) more-or-less normal people (well skilled, with lots of gadgets, but not super-powered) who dressed up to fight crime, the heroes in this story have abilities, but are linked in the reason as to why. This book is mostly about introductions and setting up the primary conflict for the rest of the tale. As with Watchmen, it starts with a mystery...a murder, but surprisingly, that mystery is solved fairly quickly and it is just the impetus for the broader story.

  5. 5 out of 5

    One Flew

    The concept, execution and art of Rising Stars is damn good. We get a group of super powered individuals who discover the more of their fellow super powered rivals are illed, the stronger the rest of them become. I remember this book making quite an impact on the comic book industry when it first came and it's easy to see why. I've read quite a few of the critiques of Rising Stars, which accuse Straczynski of trying to go for too much of a gritty Frank Miller vibe... Which is quite unfair, I thin The concept, execution and art of Rising Stars is damn good. We get a group of super powered individuals who discover the more of their fellow super powered rivals are illed, the stronger the rest of them become. I remember this book making quite an impact on the comic book industry when it first came and it's easy to see why. I've read quite a few of the critiques of Rising Stars, which accuse Straczynski of trying to go for too much of a gritty Frank Miller vibe... Which is quite unfair, I think JMS has used the limited run series to advantage by being able to kill off characters, devolp his own world and run with some interesting ideas. I was surprised at how early on Straczynski revealed some of the major plot points, which seemed like quite bold decision. If anything the only flaw in the book is the lack of character depth.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Blair Conrad

    A very nice comic. The artwork is fine, nothing particularly special, but JMS’s writing is top-notch here. He constructs an interesting premise and a wide array of characters who have special powers caused by a mysterious event a couple of decades ago. Then he mixes it all up with a murder mystery and conspiracy. It makes for compelling reading. I especially like the way that JMS handled the fates of certain of the lesser-powered characters – most comics only focus on the supers who have powers A very nice comic. The artwork is fine, nothing particularly special, but JMS’s writing is top-notch here. He constructs an interesting premise and a wide array of characters who have special powers caused by a mysterious event a couple of decades ago. Then he mixes it all up with a murder mystery and conspiracy. It makes for compelling reading. I especially like the way that JMS handled the fates of certain of the lesser-powered characters – most comics only focus on the supers who have powers useful for combat – it’s nice to see that some people know that super strength != invulnerability != immobility. Anyhow, the arc of the first 8 issues is excellent, and I’m left slavering for more.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Charles

    This is a cleverly-done revisionist superhero comic, but it's hard to forgive the somewhat-familiar plot when the characters are the same angry wooden contrivances that Marvel has been coughing out since Frank Miller brought politics and angst to comics with Dark Knight. Other authors have taken advantage of the sequential format to give their characters multidimensional personalities despite the necessarily sparse dialogue, but this... all plot and no heart. This is a cleverly-done revisionist superhero comic, but it's hard to forgive the somewhat-familiar plot when the characters are the same angry wooden contrivances that Marvel has been coughing out since Frank Miller brought politics and angst to comics with Dark Knight. Other authors have taken advantage of the sequential format to give their characters multidimensional personalities despite the necessarily sparse dialogue, but this... all plot and no heart.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Everbright

    One of Straczynski's very best. His work can be uneven, but when he is firing on all cylinders, he is really firing. One thing I really like about this graphic novel is...well, it has some meat to it, some words. So many graphic novels today are so sparse, and every artist is trying to make a visual movie, I just don't like that. I like a graphic novel which is pictures AND words. I like to read, too. Clever dialogue, beautiful language. One of Straczynski's very best. His work can be uneven, but when he is firing on all cylinders, he is really firing. One thing I really like about this graphic novel is...well, it has some meat to it, some words. So many graphic novels today are so sparse, and every artist is trying to make a visual movie, I just don't like that. I like a graphic novel which is pictures AND words. I like to read, too. Clever dialogue, beautiful language.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Camille

    This is for the whole series. I liked the concept but the epic story became too ambitious for JMS to pull off. Some conflicts, characterizations and motivations appear simplistic. Only Alan Moore can probably handle the scope of the story. However I had fun reading this series. It had a great start and ending.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Carine

    This was incredibe. I fought by the covers that it would be marvel-related comics but I was glad to be wronged. The plot is interesting, the drawings are good. I really liked the characters and their story.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Kavinay

    Highlander meets The Boys. There's something about JMS' ideas and themes that always pull at the tragically heroic heartstrings, making a silver age homage such a good fit. There are two things that throw me a bit off this book: 1) JMS is doing a lot of exposition--which is fine--but it's done via walls of text on panel. It would be find here and there but the density slows you down. I almost wonder if this is where a more crafty letterer could have found a better way to present the same amount o Highlander meets The Boys. There's something about JMS' ideas and themes that always pull at the tragically heroic heartstrings, making a silver age homage such a good fit. There are two things that throw me a bit off this book: 1) JMS is doing a lot of exposition--which is fine--but it's done via walls of text on panel. It would be find here and there but the density slows you down. I almost wonder if this is where a more crafty letterer could have found a better way to present the same amount of copy while helping you stay visually engaged with each panel. 2) the art... it's not bad, but it's from a Liefeld/Jim Lee inspired era where everyone looks the same. The women especially, ugh, it's practically a requirement to wear pencil skirts to the point that every female is just the same set of clingy thighs on each page. Maybe it's unfair to criticize the art this far into the future where even superhero books feature all manner of pencil styles, but it does feel like the distinctiveness of the story isn't particularly enhanced by the art.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Arturo

    We get to know the heroes in the first 5 issues, and I was really wasn't into that type of storytelling, until i realized there was an actual plot starting in issue 6, a 3 part arc ending this collection with issue 8. I see now spending 5 issues getting to know these heroes was a good idea, and was very interesting even if it took awhile getting to the plot. I don't even want to talk about the plot, it's just something I strongly recommend. We get to know the heroes in the first 5 issues, and I was really wasn't into that type of storytelling, until i realized there was an actual plot starting in issue 6, a 3 part arc ending this collection with issue 8. I see now spending 5 issues getting to know these heroes was a good idea, and was very interesting even if it took awhile getting to the plot. I don't even want to talk about the plot, it's just something I strongly recommend.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Tiffany Lynn Kramer

    I first came across Rising Stars during it's original run but never had the chance to do more than flip through a few pages. Even still it was one that I always hoped to properly read. Perhaps over the years I built it up to be something else as I found it to be a lack luster experience. In truth nothing about this held my attention and the only reason I finished reading it was a personal desire to not dnf yet another book. I first came across Rising Stars during it's original run but never had the chance to do more than flip through a few pages. Even still it was one that I always hoped to properly read. Perhaps over the years I built it up to be something else as I found it to be a lack luster experience. In truth nothing about this held my attention and the only reason I finished reading it was a personal desire to not dnf yet another book.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Robert Noll

    A group of children conceived during a cosmic event display powers of a varying degree. When as adults one of them dies, the remaining energy goes to the survivors. This even energy distribution incentivizes a murderer. The plot reminded me of “Watchmen,” in that a super being is trying to track a killer. Unfortunately, the book ends as Act I.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Carl Phillips

    Superb. The fact its a story that was pre-written in its entirety is obvious and means it has better structure than your average graphic novel series. Excellent ideas, excellent characterization and great plotting.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Chris C

    Fun story with a decent plot; some of the twists it takes to get the main story going are a bit too much to believe but I'm curious to see how it'll end. Fun story with a decent plot; some of the twists it takes to get the main story going are a bit too much to believe but I'm curious to see how it'll end.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Katka Chudá

    it was pretty interesting, looking forward for the second book

  18. 5 out of 5

    Matthew

    Interesting ideas, but hasn't aged that well. Interesting ideas, but hasn't aged that well.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Jamesey Lefebure

    Just proves that some of the best superhero books come from outside Marvel and DC!

  20. 4 out of 5

    Luke Shea

    I will never forgive HEROES for ripping off this book and then becoming a cultural phenomenon and then becoming bad.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Peter

    New twist on a common theme. Suffers a little from fad art style of its time (one that I am not a big fan of). This story is in the telling, not in the destination. Hopefully, the telling will hold up.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Joe

    Grand wow How they have grown

  23. 5 out of 5

    Fizzgig76

    Reprints Rising Stars #1-8 (August 1999-June 2000). An unexplained flash occurs above Pederson and those in utero are discovered to be born with powers. The Specials, as they are known, grow-up…but something sinister is happening. Someone is killing the Specials, and the world is about to find out how dangerous the Specials can be. With each Special death, the Specials powers are dispersed among the surviving Specials…and the power is limited and the desire for power is growing! Written by J. Mic Reprints Rising Stars #1-8 (August 1999-June 2000). An unexplained flash occurs above Pederson and those in utero are discovered to be born with powers. The Specials, as they are known, grow-up…but something sinister is happening. Someone is killing the Specials, and the world is about to find out how dangerous the Specials can be. With each Special death, the Specials powers are dispersed among the surviving Specials…and the power is limited and the desire for power is growing! Written by J. Michael Straczynski, Rising Stars 1: Born in Fire was published by Straczynski’s line of comics called Joe’s Comics under Image’s Top Cow line and features art by Keu Cha and Christian Zanier. The collection contains the first five issues in addition to the three part “Things Fall Apart” storyline from Rising Stars #6-8 (April 2000-June 2000). I’m not a big fan of J. Michael Straczynski’s writing but Rising Stars is definitely the most palpable of his stories (Amazing Spider-Man started out ok but fell apart, and I never liked his Thor). The concept of the story is interesting and the delivery is fun, but it still has problems. The idea has merit thought it is kind of derivative of aspects of Watchmen and other comics. The concept of a limited amount of power spread between a number of superhumans, and this power moving into the others when one of them dies is interesting. I don’t find many of the characters compelling or different, but the comic is still solid. The art for Rising Stars is good, but like its story not very inspiring. While it is solid and better than many comics, I once again find it rather derivative of other comics. I don’t entirely blame the artists for this because they are working with generic superhero types and generic visions of these heroes can be expected. I don’t mind Rising Stars, but it isn’t the best or most original comic book you’ll ever read. Stories like Watchmen or even something more modern like Powers do a better job telling a new post-modern superhero story where “good” and “evil” are skewed. I see Rising Stars as almost an intro to better comics by introducing readers of standard comics that concepts are capable of more, but don’t take Rising Stars as the highest echelon of what comics can be. Rising Stars 1: Born in Fire is followed by Rising Stars 2: Power.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Mel

    Babylon 5 which was written by JMS remains my favourite tv show of all time. I find his writing their incredible. So when I discovered he'd written his own comic book series I wanted to try it. It was (again) about superheros but I thought it'd be worth investigating anyway. I have to say I was quite disappointed. The storyline is quite mediocure. Kids are born with superhero powers, raised together, then at some point when they grow up start killing each other off as their powers start to fade Babylon 5 which was written by JMS remains my favourite tv show of all time. I find his writing their incredible. So when I discovered he'd written his own comic book series I wanted to try it. It was (again) about superheros but I thought it'd be worth investigating anyway. I have to say I was quite disappointed. The storyline is quite mediocure. Kids are born with superhero powers, raised together, then at some point when they grow up start killing each other off as their powers start to fade and the other ones dying brings them back. The story was told in a very expository fashion. There were lots of repeated flashbacks. Each flashback focusing on one character, where it seems like it would have been better to have done all the childhood stories together as one coherant comic. The thing that surprised me the most about the comic though was the lack of women characters. While there were supposed to be over 100 people with these powers the stories all focused on the men. The few women that did get mentioned had incredibly gendered superpowers, most beautiful woman alive, most incredible singing voice. When it was revealed that the woman without powers did have them, it was also revealed that'd she'd been abused and had MPD and was the "victim" fighting back. (Whereas the guys were just allowed to fly, be strong, be superheros and cops and super criminals). It was not at all what I expected from the man who wrote Lyta, Delenn and Ivonava. Rather than buy the next in the series i have requested a copy from the library. I'm hoping it gets more interesting in the second and third instalments. But I'm thinking this just isn't for me. Some of the exposition is lovely and the characters monologues are very good. But apart from these flashes of brilliance there is very little here that I found drew me in.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Adam

    Irredeemable is my favorite comic ever, bar none. I'm pleased to see that Straczynski of all people was doing something similar a few years earlier. I'll always really respect the work he did on B5, even if it was cheesy sometimes--serialized TV with a start, middle, and end planned. Sheridan was a real boy scout, since this was before serialization, and before the real rise of the anti-hero. This isn't about B5, but it made me think I'd like to check out JMS's original series, because I bet he p Irredeemable is my favorite comic ever, bar none. I'm pleased to see that Straczynski of all people was doing something similar a few years earlier. I'll always really respect the work he did on B5, even if it was cheesy sometimes--serialized TV with a start, middle, and end planned. Sheridan was a real boy scout, since this was before serialization, and before the real rise of the anti-hero. This isn't about B5, but it made me think I'd like to check out JMS's original series, because I bet he planned it as meticulously as he did the show. Fantastic beginning. Conceptually really interesting. Information is doled out in small, appropriate morsels. JMS isn't afraid to have a "this changes everything" moment. But for the guy who wrote Ivanova and Delenn, the female characters here are pretty weak, figuratively and literally. We have Patriot, Bright, Pyre, all big, buff, Justice League types, and this far in the story the most prominent female specials are Chandra--the most beautiful woman in the world, to anyone looking--and Stephanie Maas, whose abuse as a child created a split (powered) personality. Neither is what I would call a great female heroine. No fliers or invulnerables yet. Also, Poet has potential but he spent an awful lot of time brooding and letting his Cool Guy Hair flow behind him. I find him pretty annoying as a protagonist. But we'll give it time.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Christopher Mclean

    This is a the JMS I know and love. Born in Fire sets-up the Rising Stars universe, where around 100 "specials" were created by virtue of being in utero during a meteor strike. Identified early for their powers, this group grew up together and has been under government surveillance for their whole lives. As each specials powers differ, so too does their success in the outside world, some ride their powers to mega stardom, many live mundane lives and a few are so haunted or afraid of their abilitie This is a the JMS I know and love. Born in Fire sets-up the Rising Stars universe, where around 100 "specials" were created by virtue of being in utero during a meteor strike. Identified early for their powers, this group grew up together and has been under government surveillance for their whole lives. As each specials powers differ, so too does their success in the outside world, some ride their powers to mega stardom, many live mundane lives and a few are so haunted or afraid of their abilities they withdraw from society. When it is discovered that killing one of the group enhances the power of all remaining battle lines are quickly drawn and re-drawn. This is JMS at the height of his game, many of the early issues focus on different characters, setting up the world by telling their unique stories. Almost inevitably these stories end in a sharp twist that re-frames the entire narrative. With the setting and major characters well established JMS moves into a final 3 issue arc which perfectly transitions on to the next portion of the story. Those that know and love Babylon 5 will feel right at home here. Just as you start to get comfortable the whole world changes again, yet somehow it always makes sense, and fits in perfectly with everything we have been shown.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Cale

    This is a pretty powerful starting point for a story about 113 'stars' who have various super powers and grew up together. It's the Beginning of the story, setting the stage and introducing the characters (both living and dead), while setting up the central conflict, which explodes spectacularly in the final three issues of the volume. Straczynski's characters are strong and relatively nuanced given the amount of time they're given, and the story is very powerful. One thing I must say - these ar This is a pretty powerful starting point for a story about 113 'stars' who have various super powers and grew up together. It's the Beginning of the story, setting the stage and introducing the characters (both living and dead), while setting up the central conflict, which explodes spectacularly in the final three issues of the volume. Straczynski's characters are strong and relatively nuanced given the amount of time they're given, and the story is very powerful. One thing I must say - these are very wordy comics - very dense in form and content; a lot of things happen in these issues. Artwork is early Image, with overly busty women and muscular men, but that doesn't distract too much from the story.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Colin

    "Rising Stars" is one of my favorite graphic novels of all time. I recently (July 2013) decided to re-read the story and discovered I had never entered it in Goodreads, so I'm here to correct my mistake. J. Michael Straczynski has imagined a world in which an event created 113 people with super powers. No more, no less. They all grew up together, know each other intimately . . . but as "Born in Fire" begins, it seems someone is killing them off, one by one. And it must be on of them. One of the "Rising Stars" is one of my favorite graphic novels of all time. I recently (July 2013) decided to re-read the story and discovered I had never entered it in Goodreads, so I'm here to correct my mistake. J. Michael Straczynski has imagined a world in which an event created 113 people with super powers. No more, no less. They all grew up together, know each other intimately . . . but as "Born in Fire" begins, it seems someone is killing them off, one by one. And it must be on of them. One of their own. The story of who and why is amazing . . . but as they die, the remaining ones become more powerful . . .

  29. 4 out of 5

    Francine

    My favourite thing about this book is the page with the ghosts. You know what I'm talking about. That's some perfect use of the medium right there. Other than that, it can get a little "tell don't show" at times. By which I mean, some chapters are just filled with backstory exposition which, I get it, there's a lot of story you want to tell and not enough pages, but this isn't supposed to be a novel. Show me these stories as if I were there, and keep the narration to a minimum. If they ever make a My favourite thing about this book is the page with the ghosts. You know what I'm talking about. That's some perfect use of the medium right there. Other than that, it can get a little "tell don't show" at times. By which I mean, some chapters are just filled with backstory exposition which, I get it, there's a lot of story you want to tell and not enough pages, but this isn't supposed to be a novel. Show me these stories as if I were there, and keep the narration to a minimum. If they ever make a TV series out of this I would so watch it. Also the title is trite and the cover doesn't appeal to me. Did they change that for the omnibus edition? I hope so.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

    Graphic Novel Book Club February 2016 I still love JMS and I still got goosebumps at the end of this graphic novel, when it broke off the first third of the story he'd planned to write. I got to reminisce a lot about the situations I was in when I was first reading this, when it was his first jump back into producing anything (after the pause following the sudden cut-off from Jeremiah). A lot of this was reworking old groundwork for me. Rereading the story I'd already read, piecing together memor Graphic Novel Book Club February 2016 I still love JMS and I still got goosebumps at the end of this graphic novel, when it broke off the first third of the story he'd planned to write. I got to reminisce a lot about the situations I was in when I was first reading this, when it was his first jump back into producing anything (after the pause following the sudden cut-off from Jeremiah). A lot of this was reworking old groundwork for me. Rereading the story I'd already read, piecing together memory and a reread. Which is, indeed, what pushed me on to read the rest of the series, too.

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