Wednesday, June 15, 2016

MGM Options J. Michael Straczynski's RISING STARS for Movie

Well, isn't that Special.

Deadline reported yesterday that MGM has optioned Rising Stars, the Top Cow/Image Comics superhero drama series that was created by J. Michael Straczynski. Straczynski will provide the script, and Alex Gartner and Richard Suckle will produce the film for Atlas Entertainment.

Straczynski is best known as the creator and showrunner of the science fiction TV series Babylon 5, the spinoff series Crusade, and Jeremiah.  Recently, he wrote and executive produced the Netflix series Sense8 with Lily and Lana Wachowski.  His film scripts include Thor, World War Z and Underworld Awakening.  In addition to Rising Stars, his comic book work includes The Amazing Spider-Man, Thor, Midnight Nation, Dream Police, Supreme Power, Strange, Superman, Wonder Woman, Before Watchmen, Fantastic Four, Silver Surfer: Requiem, Sidekick, and The Twelve.

Running from 1999 to 2005, Rising Stars was 25-issue limited series about 113 people (called "Specials"), who were born with special abilities following the appearance of a mysterious comet in the sky above Pederson, Illinois.  The series explored how society may react to the advent of superpowers, and how those who are Specials may react towards society and each other.

The story is narrated from the future by the last living Special, John Simon, nicknamed "Poet," and starts when the Specials are all grown up, but it constantly flashes back to when they were children.  Through these flashbacks, the development of these 113 Specials is shown, starting with the government's monitoring and handling of the events, to the manifestation of their powers, to the impact of these abilities on the afflicted children and the world around them.  Some of the Specials use their powers for the good of the world, others for personal benefit and fame, while others simply wish to forget about them and live a normal life.

The comic came to an unexpected halt after issue 21 due to internal arguments between Straczynski and Top Cow.  Straczynski claimed he was cut out of the loop on the potential Rising Stars movie.  After communication broke down between them, he held back the scripts for the last three issues, and the entire comic was put on hold.  In addition to an apology for the way Straczynski was treated in regard to the possible film, Top Cow relented by giving him the full rights to an anthology comic he had written for them, Dream Police (later published by Marvel Comics), as well as the rights to the name and logo for the Joe's Comics imprint.

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