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Babylon 5.1
by Rick Norwood

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Ratings are based on a four star system.
One star means that the commercials are more entertaining than the program.
Two stars watch if you have nothing better to do.
Three stars is good solid entertainment.
Four stars means you never dreamed television could be this good.

Whatever Happened to Mr. Straczynski?

Rising Stars

Remember the excitement you felt when you first discovered Babylon 5?

It's happening again, but you won't see it on television.

J. Michael Straczynski is writing a comic book. It is called Rising Stars and it is published by Top Cow, an imprint of Image comics. You can check it out on the web at It is by far the best comic currently being published. It may be the best superhero comic of all time. It may do for superhero comics what Babylon 5 did for science fiction television.

Rising Stars is the story of superheroes who are being murdered.

There are, or were, exactly 113 superheroes in the world. They were all embryos, much like other embryos, the night the meteor fell. It changed them. And they are going to change everything. Now someone is killing them, one by one.

Rising Stars

It would not be fair to tell you more.

The trouble with Superman and Spiderman and all the rest is that nothing really happens. So, there really isn't a story, just a lot of incidents. That is why the rare events in the comic book universe -- Superman marries Lois, for example -- attract so much attention.

Rising Stars

The same problem afflicts Star Trek to a lesser extent. You know that on Voyager, at the end of each episode, things are going back to pretty much the same place they began.

Babylon 5 was different. Things happened. Things changed. A real story was being told.

J. Michael Straczynski is telling a story in Rising Stars, a story with interesting characters and surprising events. You have a real treat in store.

To buy the comics direct from Top Cow, go to, then click on Monster Mart, then buy one each of the regular Rising Star comics (including 00) ignoring all the foolish "foil covers", "multiple covers" nonsense. They only cost two bucks and change each, and I guarantee this is the most fun you can have for two bucks today. The current issue, now on sale, is #8, but this is NOT a series you want to start reading in the middle.

What else is Mr. Straczynski up to these days. Well, he is writing new stories set in the Babylon 5 universe. They are not as good as Rising Star. More on the level of Crusade. But they are worth reading. Two have appeared so far in Amazing Stories magazine #597 and #599, with more promised in future issues.

Television? The only thing happening on television is Gormenghast, and then only if you get BBC America, which I don't. If you don't either, then like me you will have to wait impatiently for the repeat broadcast on PBS some time in 2001. You can whet your appetite at

Copyright © 1999 by Rick Norwood

Rick Norwood is a mathematician and writer whose small press publishing house, Manuscript Press, has published books by Hal Clement, R.A. Lafferty, and Hal Foster. He is also the editor of Comics Revue Monthly, which publishes such classic comic strips as Flash Gordon, Sky Masters, Modesty Blaise, Tarzan, Odd Bodkins, Casey Ruggles, The Phantom, Gasoline Alley, Krazy Kat, Alley Oop, Little Orphan Annie, Barnaby, Buz Sawyer, and Steve Canyon.

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