Jack Jetstark travels the universe to seek out the descendants of superpowered freaks created long ago by VesCorp scientists. The vibrations encoded in a particular song transform the members of Jack's crew into a firebreather and an angel, a wildman and telepathic conjoined triplets, so they hide the truth of who they really are with the theatrics of a carnival.
The song plays every night through the receptor Jack carries with them, but when one night it has a different ending and their temporary powers become permanent, Jack believes the change is a signal from the woman who sent him on this quest in the first place. He and his freaks must navigate a universe at war to protect the love of his life.
But does the ruler of VesCorp really need protecting?
Rossman's gleefully pulpy debut delivers on its title: a ramshackle carnival spaceship run by its sideshow attractions hops from one "dead, dusty rock in the middle of nowhere" to another under the lackadaisical management of Jack Jetstark. He's got a Han Solo streak, a Chewie-style wingman named Merulo, and even a lost-princess love, Diantha. In their youth, Diantha and Jack hatched a plan to bring down the evil conglomerate VesCorp, overlord of known space. But Diantha married another guy (since assassinated), and, apparently by inheritance, now controls the evil corporation she once despised. The tenuous remaining link to their old dreams of revolution against VesCorp is Jack's ship. He gathers the genetic mutants VesCorp created as weapons and then betrayed when it became clear they couldn't control their powers, and revives the old anti-VesCorp plot. They're aided by a song Diantha sings to them every night over an old receiver, which awakens the mutant genes. Then the song changes, and news suddenly comes that Diantha is in danger but does she really need rescue? Jack will find out. It's a femme fatale noir story with a feel-good gloss. The characters are endearing, even the baddies. The plotting is loose and the setting is looser; its settings, like B-movie film sets, are arranged for a quick, superficial visual. Space opera fans who enjoy a generous helping of antics and drama will revel in this adventure.