Or – “It’s Always Sad When You Grow Up Faster Than Your Friends…”


I’ve always said that the original New Warriors series could be read as a metaphor for young adulthood, the time when we’re figuring out who we are and what we can do to screw up the world as an adult. If we read the Warriors as being like a super-hero college experience, (and if my experience was at all representative, it is even more so then “Freshmen”) then we can view the surviving members of the New Warriors as being roughly age 23 to 25, when the effects of the decisions you’ve made really start to catch up with you. But, is Richard Ryder going to take the path that leads to the little plastic retirement home, or will his game of Life end up flat busted?

Previously, on Nova: The extraterrestrial warlord Annihilus made a nearly-successful attempt to take over our world from the Negative Zone. A band of freedom fighters, with Nova1.jpgassistance from Galactus himself, defended the universe, and Rich Ryder, the last Nova centurion, found himself a warrior and a general. In the aftermath, he finds that even he can’t handle all the duties of the entire Nova Corps alone, and after a near-fatal loss of concentration, Nova decides he needs some time off. He returns home to Queens, New York, but quickly discovers that the hoary old adage is true. You can’t go home again. After frightening his parents half to death, Rich is accosted by SHIELD director Iron Man, and given 24 hours to make a decision about registration. After a long discussion with an old friend, and a quick altercation with an old foe, Nova ends up in the sights of the Thunderbolts, who mistake his fight with Hammerhead for unregistered activity. Wading in with their customary lack of concern for bystanders, the ‘Bolts appall Nova with their brutality and tactics. Radioactive Man bombards him with radiation, knocking the last centurion down, and Moonstone foolishly thinks that “down” is the same as “out.”IMAGE REMOVED BY MARVEL LEGAL DEPARTMENT

“I eat class twelves for breakfast.” Shut up, Venom. Spider-Man is nowhere near class twelve, and he’s beaten you more often than an Alabama trailer park boyfriend. Heck, you’ve been beaten by Winchester Cathedral, ya boastful waste of skin! A second blast from Nova easily downs Moonstone, but Radioactive Man blasts him through a truck and into a building, where Venom goes in for the kill. Neither of the “federal agents” does more than scuff Richard’s helmet, though, as Worldmind tries to give him tactical information. “Human/Xenoform symbiote. Gross physical power. Adrenal surge–” Nova interrupts, “AND ON MY BACK! That would be the KEY point!” Radioactive Man turns to Penance, ordering him to attack before he makes even bigger fools of them. (Too late!)


Oh, but that Venom punch was nice to watch… Penance’s power blast causes the entire building comes down on Nova, and Moonstone smugly orders a T-wagon to come and pick up the remains. Radioactive Man makes a joke about explosions, and I’m completely disgusted with these idiots… This is a public street. There were bystanders here, not five minutes ago. That building BELONGED to someone. Moreover, they don’t even know who they’re FIGHTING, they’ve just come in swinging, destroying anything and everything. God, I hate the Thunderbolts. As if on cue to overcome my bad mood, Nova rises from the rubble, and begins reading the ‘Bolts their rights. “Nova Centurion 1124 9-4 4 396. Under the terms of the Nova Corps pan-world jurisdictional treaty, you have the right to surrender now or suffer immediate penalty.” Heh… That’s a truly awseom moment, and the look on the Thunderbolts faces if priceless, as Moonstone shouts that THEY have authority her, and calls him a sociopath (takes one to know one, dear.) The Thunderbolts prepare to hurt more innocents and destroy more property to prove they’re macho. Suddenly, out of the sky, comes Iron Man and a horde of SHIELD agents, and for the second time in less than a week, I cheer for Gruppenfuhrer Stark. (I think that may be a record since 2004.)


Yes! Shut that beeyotch DOWN, Tony! Whoo! Abuse of power is always more exhilarating when you hate the person being abused, isn’t it? Stark shoos the psycho patrol away, and tells Nova that they need to have a talk. Nova flies to the nearest site he can think of… his old high school. As with everything, though, it’s not how he remembers it, abandoned and crumbling, slowly falling to pieces, just like everything else on Earth, it seems. Iron Man again tries to make his point that superheroes are no longer allowed to save so much as a kitten from a tree without paperwork signed in triplicate, buried in peat moss, and recycled as fire lighters, and Nova once again tells him to shut the #$&$ up.


The Extremis virus may have rewritten his nervous system, but it apparently also ate his sense of irony, allowing Iron Man to keep a straight face when talking about “abuse of power” twenty minutes after the Thunderbolts destroyed most of a city block because they didn’t like the cut of Nova’s jib. “I don’t fit in here anymore, do I?” asks Nova, knowing the obvious answer. The heroes of Earth no longer have room for people like Nova. The Initiative doesn’t care about your intentions, they only care that they get to break you, to force you into the preset mold that will minimize public outcry. Most tellingly, you don’t get exceptions based on your experience, or your skills, but on sheer power. Had Nova not been able to burst a sun with a flick of the wrist, he’d have been locked up or crippled by the Thunderbolts before page five of last issue. Tony realizes that he and his agency have alienated a very powerful possible ally, and tries to mend fences…


Still, Stark is actually trying, and he’s treating someone he remembers as “just a stupid kid” with what feels like genuine respect, so I have to appreciate that. Returning to his parents’ home, Rich is immediately affronted again, this time by his father. “You were fighting the THUNDERBOLTS! On the six 0’clock news! They’re the GOOD guys!” Yeeah… I have to say, though, this perception of the ‘Bolts shows how good Norman Osborn’s P.R. machine is, and helps to explain the lack of outcry against their illegal and immoral actions. When his father asked what he was thinking, Richard goes for the kill, shouting back, “I dunno, Dad. Maybe I was thinking that if I tried REAL hard I could make you wish I really WAS dead.” Ouch. Mom and Dad stand down, perhaps realizing that their son has been through a lot, and Mrs. Ryder tries to explain what they’re really saying…


As he stands in the back yard, Worldmind alerts Nova of an approaching power signature, and he turns to see Penance just walking up to the gate. Is a Thunderbolt really allowed to just wander around without any type of supervision or control? Even Robbie gets chained up in the ship, doesn’t he? Either way, Nova thinks he’s ready to fight, but Penance takes off his helmet (how does he see in that thing, anyway) and smiles weakly. “Just wanted to stop by and see my friend.” Nova, shocked, asks Robbie what happened, but Baldwin’s neuroses take over. “It’s Penance,” he replies…


“I think the world’s gone psycho, and I want OFF.” Nova powers up his helmet, and tells Penance goodbye. “Don’t let them turn you into something you’re not,” he says, and takes off. The Human Rocket is finally done, but he has one last thing to do… In the Ryder home, the television signal breaks up, as Worldmind patches Nova’s helmet into their cable. “Mom? Dad? Sorry, I just hacked into your cable for a moment. I couldn’t do this face-to-face…”


With that, Nova leaves Earth’s atmosphere. Worldmind asks if he’s alright, and Nova responds, “Yup.” “Are you lying to me?” asks the computer. “Yup,” is the reply. Worldmind collates somewhere in the neighborhood of 93,000 distress calls from space, including 300 from Hala, the Kree homeworld, and the die is cast. Nova leaves the insanity of Earth 616 behind, leaping headfirst into the next big crossover.

Like many Initiative crossovers, I am left with a strong emotional response to this book, but unlike many of them, I’m okay with it. I’m saddened for Nova, even as I realize that he has bigger and better things ahead of him. While I enjoyed the outsiders perspective on the madness of the Marvel Universe, I had possibly hoped that Rich would have found at least some sort of closure, but to no avail. Abnett and Lanning did a wonderful job here, showing Nova as the quintessential stranger in a strange land, and the art by Sean Chen and Scott Hanna is excellent, making me believe that his costume is really a powerful alien armor that can channel astrophysical forces. The moment with Penance seemed a bit odd to me, but that may just be because of the limited access to him in his own book (which I believe is a bit behind schedule, as well.) Still, any comic where I don’t want to strangle Iron Man is a win, in my book, and Nova #3 ranks a well-done 3.5 stars out of five. I’m happy to say that this incarnation of a favorite hero seems to have what it takes to outlast his previous outings, and I’m happy to go along for the ride.



About Author

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.


  1. Much as I don’t like T-Bolts bashing, I LOVE it when Moonstone gets told that she’s not as big a girl as she thinks. Hating her is just part of my love of Thuderbolts. ‘There can be no Love without Hate’, and all that…

    Also, I think it’s kind of silly that Penance really thinks a former happy-go-lucky kid turned violent masochist is really in a state to say how GREAT the Initiative is…Norman (being a NUT) probably thought that, too, which gives us the reason why Penance is allowed out.

    I alos love how Nova has become less the garishly-dressed space teenager, and is now a character whose persona is as powerful as his self – especially as the World is no longer a place for him. I’d even go so far as to say that he seems to trump the Green Lantern’s (ALL of them), in terms of space heroism.

  2. I was somewhat dissappointed when Robbie began channeling the Führer. The cover made me expect Penance was going to lash out in anger at Nova for not being there with the team at Stamford.

  3. Yet another misleading T-Bolts cover. Argh…while the cover shows a Stormy battle ‘twixt Nova & Penance, the content is a few seconds of slugfest wherein Penance hands Nova his @$$, followed shortly by a ‘WTF?’ from Nova at Robby’s angstfest.

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