Or – “Maybe The FOURTH Time Will Be The Charm?”

Nova10.jpg

It may surprise regular Spoiler-a-holics that I, the man who always schmucks up discussions with “I have a complete run of Captain Schmaggeggi, and blah dee blah” that I do NOT have all of Nova’s various series, even though Nova is “one of my guys.” Don’t get me wrong, I have the original 25 issue series (including the ones drawn by Carmine Infantino which are… NOT C.I.’s best work), I have the Fantastic Four crossovers, and the issue of What If. I have most of the second series, but faded about halfway through, collecting only those that crossed over with New Warriors through the end of the series. I don’t have ANY of the Erik Larsen series, due mostly to Erik’s assertion that Fabian Nicieza “got Nova all wrong” and reverted him to an 18-year-old, reinstated all the old supporting cast from the ’70’s, and resurrected his old villains, only to find that nobody much cared (except Erik Larsen). This Nova series, to be honest, has more impetus behind it than any previous, giving him a serious power boost, a clearer mission, and returning his cosmic scope, something Nova has been lacking since New Warriors got cancelled. What’s my verdict?

Nova1.jpgOne of the more entertaining things about the way comics used to be is the oft-repeated fact that Nova’s origin is almost note-for-note identical to Hal Jordan’s origin as Green Lantern (Nova Prime Centurion/Green Lantern of Sector 2814 is mortally wounded, and ends up on backwoods planet called Earth. Rhomann Dey/Abin Sur sends their power source out to find a suitable candidate, settling on Richard Rider/Harold Jordan, who becomes the new Nova/GL. The hero realizes that he has great power, pieces some things together, and eventually realizes that he is a member of an intergalactic peacekeeping force… Wackiness ensues.) but seldom is it discussed that Green Lantern bears more than a passing resemblance to E.E. “Doc” Smith’s ‘Lensman‘ stories. I guess the moral is: steal from a source fewer people have heard of.

Issue 1 of Nova picks up where the Annihilation miniseries left off, but just because Annihilus and his minions have been routed, doesn’t mean that there still aren’t emergencies left to take care of. Moreover, since Rich Rider is the LAST of the Nova Corps (something that has, to be frank, happened more than once) and contains all their powers AND the entirety of the WorldMind of Xandar in his head, he’s noticeably starting to fray a bit at the seams.

IMAGE REMOVED BY MARVEL LEGAL DEPARTMENT

Rich and Worldmind find their reception underwhelming, with the Turakians offended that only ONE centurion was sent for their terrible emergency, and the translator only working partially (“<Guttural shriek of abject terror.>” Heh.), as their failsafe device arrives, 100 feet tall with axes on it’s head. Worldmind peevishly scolds Richard for carrying it (‘the sum total of Xandar’s art, science, and knowledge’) around in his head and endangering Xandar’s legacy, while Richard fights the giant monster. He admits that rebuilding the Nova Corps is a fine idea, but points out that there are other problems, like, hello, killer robot?? They find the creature’s weak point, and Worldmind points out that the planet’s ruler’s might want their Doomsday weapon back in one piece. “So they can use it again?” Nova asks.

IMAGE REMOVED BY MARVEL LEGAL DEPARTMENT

One punch? Well, backed by the might of the interstellar Nova Corps and channeled through a gravimetric pulse, yes. The locals are impressed and appalled at the show of power, and you wonder if they suddenly regret bad-mouthing the “one centurion” who made with the cavalry…

IMAGE REMOVED BY MARVEL LEGAL DEPARTMENT

I’m really enjoying the art here, even with the redesign of the classic Nova look. the new suit manages to convey the whole “space suit” aspect without making it too Star Trekky, and the minor tweak to the helmet is pretty cool, too, streamlining it down his face and giving a more fitted look. Buckethead’s helmet has often proven the hardest for new artists to get a lock on, and it alone was the reason I took so long in warming up to Darick Robertson’s art when he become the regular “New Warriors” artist in the mid-90’s. The evolution of the helmet (and it’s starburst crest) makes for an interesting study in contrasts…Nova11.jpg

Seems like the older he gets, the larger and spikier the starburst, and the taller the helm itself. Rich confirms that he IS the last Nova, and rockets back into space again, but Worldmind picks up on his random mention of “going home,” and suggests that returning to Earth might recharge his batteries a bit. Rich blows it off, heading for the next 8×8 distress call, the direst of emergencies, only to find that it’s an old foe who hasn’t heard the news: a last wave of Annihilus’ insectoid killers, lost in transit, and crashing late on an innocent world. Rich’s already strained patience is just about at it’s end, and he lashes out with full power.

IMAGE REMOVED BY MARVEL LEGAL DEPARTMENT

Ignoring Worldmind’s attempts to calm him, Nova tears into the last of the Annihilation wave with all his might, going completely “Grand Theft Auto” on their @$$es, blowing them out of the sky, tearing them limb from limb, picking up one and using it to kill another (there’s a threat I use pretty often, good to see it works). Worldmind is finally forced to raise it’s voice (and it’s really hysterical if you imagine it with the voice of Avery Brooks like I do) and make him listen: “When you’ve finished venting your rage, perhaps you’d care to target the POD itself, to prevent any more drones hatching?” I was promised flying cars! Anyway, Rich does his best Butthead impression (“Uhh. oh, yeah!”) before transitioning to either Clint Eastwood or Jack Nicholson circa ‘The Shining,’ I’m not sure which…

IMAGE REMOVED BY MARVEL LEGAL DEPARTMENT

“Heeere’s Richieeeeee!” After the (mercifully off-panel) dispatching of the Annihilation Wave, Rich (apparently rather rudely) turns down an invitation to the six-day feast that will follow, pointing out to Worldmind that he’s not really a party guy right now. Once again, the voice in his head tells him that a vacation might not be such a bad idea, but he won’t listen, tracking another distress call. Unfortunately for the aliens (and maybe for Rich’s tenuous ability to cope), it’s an automated repeating signal…

IMAGE REMOVED BY MARVEL LEGAL DEPARTMENT

Nova completely loses his cool, demanding to see what the next disaster is. When Worldmind plots a course, he irrationally decides that there has to be a quicker way, and computes his own course (completely forgetting to take into account a collapsar). The gravity catches them, and even Worldmind panics, believing that Nova has killed them both, and ended the legacy of Xandar once and for all. He manages (with only microseconds to spare) to abort his hyperspace vector (perhaps by reversing the polarity of the neutron flow?) and crashing rather spectacularly into an asteroid (maybe it’s actually a polaroid or perhaps a hemmorhoid?) with humbling results.

IMAGE REMOVED BY MARVEL LEGAL DEPARTMENT

The realization that he needs downtime seems to galvanize Nova, and Worldmind plots a course, Richard takes his protein pill and puts his helmet on… but somebody forgot to warn Ground Control about Nova’s making the grade. And when a planetary-level threat comes towards Earth, we don’t have to call in the troops. We’ve got the United States of Stark and it’s Iron Dictator to do our thinking for us…

IMAGE REMOVED BY MARVEL LEGAL DEPARTMENT

Well, at least we know that Iron Man won’t try to “debrief” Nova. However, I am adding to MY Christmas list, asking for a pony and a little plastic rocket and for Nova to smack Tony Stark back to the stone age. (Isn’t it odd that I want to respond with violence to this new totalitarian SHIELD regime? What does that say about my psyche?) Tom Grice was right, however, about one thing: if you treat Iron Man as the villain, he’s much easier to stomach. I just hate the new namby-pamby “but we’re only trying to protect you” line of reasoning, especially given the circular and unfair tactics he used during CW and also given the events of the PREVIOUS SIX DECADES OF THE MARVEL UNIVERSE.

With that tantalizing moment established (pleaseletNovapunchhim pleaseletNovapunchhim I’llbegoodIreallywill), we hang from a cliff, but writers Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning have hooked me right out of the box. Marvel doesn’t have as long a track record as DC does with the “space opera” (notably because Marvel likes to smash the status quo a lot more, with Xandar’s defenders having been completely destroyed three times since 1976), but this story has my attention, and Sean Chen & Scott Hanna’s art is well-beyond acceptable. Even the obligatory painted cover is reigned in, giving us a powerful iconic shot of Nova’s new look. As debut issues go, we learn a lot about the state of Nova’s mind, we get just enough backstory to make his return to Earth compelling, and his frustration is well-illuminated by the words and pictures. I don’t know how easy it would be to get onboard without having read Annihilation or it’s miniseries (answer: probably not so much), but all in all, it’s a quality read, with a lot to offer, and the promise of some interesting conflict back home. Maybe I’m biased, (well, it’s probably a certainty) but I’m willing to give Nova #1 3.5 out of 5 stars. Where it goes from here should be interesting.

35stars.jpg

The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture!

And a nice red uniform.

Previous post

Image Comics Solicitations for July 2007

Next post

Rush City #6 (of 6)

2 Comments

  1. Salieri
    April 24, 2007 at 5:23 am — Reply

    Notice how Nova’s helmet design is kind of reminiscent of Jack Kirby’s Silver Star design?

  2. April 24, 2007 at 6:05 am — Reply

    Well, seein’ as how Nova got into print in 1976, and Silver Star in 1983, it’s good that Marvel doesn’t see it, as they might have a problem with it. :)

You know you have something to say, say it in the comment section