Famed comic writer, TV series creator, and film screenwriter J Michael Straczynski has had one of his lesser-known (but still quite beloved) comic properties optioned for a future feature film. Rising Stars tells the story of the Specials, a group of 113 people who were in utero during a meteor impact near a small town in Illinois. After the children are born, they begin to exhibit superpowers, and the decisions they make both as children and adults begin to shape the world around them.
The comic, created in 1999 and finished in 2005 after a total of 24 issues, primarily followed the character John Simon, a superhero known as “Poet” with the power of energy manipulation. Other characters include Matthew Bright, a Superman-like hero who doubles as a police officer; Patriot, an easily manipulated, corporately sponsored superhero; Ravenshadow, an artist and one of the first Specials to become a masked vigilante; and Elizabeth Chandra, a former model who appears as the physically ideal woman to whoever is looking at her. The series takes place over several decades, traveling back and forth between the present day, the Specials’ childhoods, and the near future.
If the idea sounds familiar, that’s because it should. Popular TV shows The 4400 and Heroes had similar premises. Both aired after Rising Stars finished its print run.
This isn’t the first time Rising Stars has flirted with the big screen. Back in the early 2000’s, Top Cow, the comic’s publisher, entered negotiations to adapt Rising Stars to film before the series was even finished. When Straczynski claimed he was being cut out of the process, he held back the scripts for the remaining three issues of the series and effectively put it on hold. Top Cow eventually relented, apologizing to Straczynski for how they handled the situation. However, the film project stalled and ended up in development hell, where it has languished until now.
Stracsynski, known for creating the TV series Babylon 5 as well as fan-favorite comic runs on both Hulk and Thor, will serve as a producer for the film.
Rising Stars is a fantastic series with fleshed-out characters, some genuine shocks, and an intriguing ending. How much of that will make it to the movie remains to be seen, but fans of the comic series are optimistic.