This collects the first eight issues of the 24 issue series Rising Stars. Normal people get superpowers then it all goes horribly wrong.
It is a dense read both in wordcount and ideas. Having up to 113 protagonists is a hell of an ensemble and following them though their childhood and adult life is a tall order. Straczynski does pull it off by being extremely good at his job. The amount of foreshadowing and flashbacks can drive you crazy in the beginning but once he has hooked you and got you up to speed with what you need to know the ride becomes smoother.
This type of story is something Straczynski has told before in Supreme Power and The Twelve but this time these are his own characters and they are people before they are heroes. It does start off as a whodunit and feels uncomfortably familiar but the twist in the middle takes it in a new direction. You can see this as the blueprint for TV shows like Heroes and the 4400 or even the first season of Smallville as each character has a random power.
The art is strong stuff and you can see Straczynski’s TV background in the composition and cutting between panels. That said he isn’t afraid to drop the pictures and resort to prose having a character’s diary deliver a couple of pages of exposition. This is another indication of the volume of ideas he wants to convey.
The length works well and we reach a dramatic yet satisfying place to end this first book.