Review: Nova #29

by

Or – “Who-nark What-Stalker???”

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One of the great joys of Abnett and Lanning’s run on Nova is their weirdly encyclopedic knowledge of Marvel Universe cosmic ephemera.  They’ve name-checked things as diverse as pre-hero Atlas monster titles, Jim Starlin’s seminal run on Warlock, the (ugh) Infinity Gauntlet, the old-school Marvel black-and-white magazines of the 70’s, all the while building on the groundwork set by Fantastic Four back in the day.  I don’t know why I’m so psyched to see the return of this issue’s guest star, except that I actually HAVE his previous appearance, and thought that I was the only one who remembered his existence…

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Previously, on Nova:  When the Worldmind of Xandar began it’s recent expansion of the Nova Corps, it did so with the intention of policing the entire galaxy from a base on the lobotomized living planet called Ego.  This plan went by the wayside for a number of reasons (Worldmind being insane, the war between the Kree and Shi’ar, Nova-Prime’s refusal to give up the Nova force, and the general inappropriateness of the recruits for interstellar war among them) and the end of the War of Kings left things in disarray.  (Some of de Nova Corps go disarray, some go datarray!)  After succesfully rebooting the Worldmind, regaining his powers, whittling down the Nova Corps members to a few promising recruits, and creating a tenuous peace with the newly minted King Blastaar, Richard Rider and his Corpsmen were shocked to find a ship travelling through ‘The Fault,’ a tremendous rip in the fabric of space-time created by the final conflict of Black Bolt and Vulcan at the end of WoK.  Nova Prime was even more stunned to realize that he RECOGNIZED the design of the vessel as the Nova Corps cruiser vessel ‘Resolute Duty,’ reported lost in action THIRTY-FIVE years ago…

Richard and his probationers (now wearing the traditional red uniforms of the Nova cadet) blast off into space at the behest of the Worldmind, boarding the lost ship, unaware that they’re being observed.  The hidden interloper sets a cloud of nanobots on the floating Worldmind as the Corpsmen investigate the ship.  Man, didn’t you guys see Event Horizon?  This is a BAD IDEA!  As if to prove my point, Nova gets tagged by another unseen enemy, as Worldmind experiences interference because of the nanobots.  Little brother Robbie Rider steps up to take command while Rich discovers that things on the cruiser aren’t as bad as they think.   His attacker reveals himself to be himself Nova centurion Zan Philo, explaining that he’s been lost on the other side of the galaxy for decades, and that he’s even got a prisoner onboard, a real tough guy who leads a gang called the Black Hole Sons (they’re known for washing away the rain, I believe) who run a drug called Krush.   At the same time, Robbie Rider discovers the worst new of all:  Ego, the planet upon whom his team is currently living and making their headquarters, IS WAKING UP.

The Corpsmen prepare to return their lost member to the fold, when suddenly they’re under attack by a man in purple with a number of exotic weapons and a flying golden eagle.  “Name’s Monark Starstalker.  Hi.  I’ll just take what I’ve come for and go…”  Monark easily takes down the newbies, but Philo recognizes him as a bounty hunter with no morals or compunctions about how he gets hs prisoners.  Monark blusters that this is HIS perp, and that if they fight him for jurisdiction, Monark will blow the ship’s engines and leave them all stranded and/or dead.  Of course, there’s also a problems with the living planet becoming more living and attacking it’s newfound ‘parasites,’ and the sudden arrival of the Black Hole Sons to spring their leader.  “Nine neutron slaves,” reveals Philo, “out of their tiny headboxes on Krush, riding right in to board us and free their boss.  Oh, and in some parts of the cosmos, they’re called Mindless Ones.”  Oh, crap.

This issue runs the gamut from creepy (as the Novas investigate the mysterious ship) to all-out action (as Richard faces down with Monark) to a ‘don’t cross the streams’ bad moment at the end.  The story moves at quite a clip, and the reveleations within the issue are given just enough room to breathe before we move on to the next thing.  I have a strange feeling that Zan Philo may be more than he seems, and Monark Starstalker proves himself to be a strong and capable character in his own right (which is as should be, given that he’s one of Howard Chaykin’s manly cosmic badasses.)  I like the admission here that War of Kings is now over, and the galaxy’s other threats haven’t gone away.  As the Galactic Cops, Richard and his Novas don’t have the luxury of sitting back to rest just because the direct threat has gone away, and DnA’s story shows that nicely.  I like the art here, a good bit of work by Kevin Sharpe (a name I’m not familiar with, but one I think I’ll look out for) and the issue gels nicely to set up the new status quo.  Nova has been delivering solid product month in and month out, all without stunt-casting creators, Dark Reign tie-ins, or Wolverine.  Nova #29 earns a well-above-average 4 out of 5 stars, introducing (and reintroducing) interesting characters and doing it with such flair that you can’t help but love the results. 

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