We’ve talked a lot about Kate Bishop, you and I, but I recently realized I’ve neglected to squee about my second favourite Marvel character: Richard Rider, codename Nova.
Nova was among the first characters I met when I threw myself head first into the Marvel Universe. He, like Kate, wasn't even on my radar until I encountered him in the pages of ANNIHILATION, the Marvel Cosmic storyline that introduced me to both crossover events and the joys of Marvel's various offworld settings. Nova has a long history, stretching back to his own solo title in 1976 and a lengthy stint with the New Warriors, but I’d never brushed up against him. I halfway recalled hearing people were upset he wouldn't be in the then-forthcoming GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY movie, but that was the extent of my involvement with the guy.
Unfamiliar or no, Nova won me over like that. Mere pages after ANNIHILATION begins, the Annihilation Wave destroys every other member of the Nova Corps, leaving him the only person in the entire galaxy with the ability to harness the Nova Force. (His powers, in brief: he can fly, he can blast stuff, and he’s frickin’ tough to hurt.) He’s also the only person left to carry the Worldmind, an AI that holds the core of the Nova Force in its extensive data banks. And Worldmind isn’t always the most pleasant person to have living inside your head.
It would be mighty easy to for Nova to give up under these circumstances, but he doesn’t even consider it. Of course he’s gonna fight Annihilus Of course he’s gonna recruit others to the cause and mount a strong defense. It’s who he is. He couldn’t possibly act any other way.
This made me love him a lot.
I’ve got a total thing for characters who refuse to quit trying, no matter what the universe throws at them. Nova’s in a pretty rough place even after he’s helped defeat Annihilus (um; spoiler?), but it never even occurs to him that he could maybe, like, not push himself to the limit. He's committed to righting every wrong in the galaxy, and he’s gonna see his mission through because who the hell else is gonna do it?
No one. Everyone else is dead.
(Well, everyone who can control the Nova Force.)
His belief that he’s gotta do it all alone (because heaven forbid he let anyone else step in to protect the galaxy long enough for him to recruit and train more centurions) causes a ton of problems for him along the way. His own safety and comfort come a distant second to everyone else's needs; a fixation he struggles with throughout the entirety of his 2007 solo series, often with dire results.
But whatever happens, whatever problems arise, he never gives up. When his younger brother gets pulled into his drama, he bends the world to keep the guy safe. When the Nova Force is taken from him, he assumes another powerful mantle not so much because he misses being a superhero but because it’s the only way he can fix a damned big problem he caused with his singular focus. When Worldmind (with whom he has the most fabulous, snarky relationship) loses an essential part of itself, he refuses to abandon all hope of repairing it.
He’s the best. After Kate Bishop, I mean.
Alas, Nova hasn’t had much of an on-page presence since THE THANOS IMPERATIVE (2010) but he recently resurfaced in #s 18-20 of the current GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY series. This wee arc looked set to provide readers with answers that I, for one, had been eager for since Peter Quill first reappeared in the pages of Jonathan Hickman’s AVENGERS (2012), so I started reading the series by issue as each one appeared on Marvel Unlimited; something I rarely do.
All through the arc, I braced myself for disappointment. This wasn’t gonna hit me the way I wanted it to. It wouldn’t affect me as deeply as THE THANOS IMPERATIVE had done. I was okay with that. I’d made my peace.
Then the final answer emerged, and I was not okay with it and not at peace in the best possible way1.
Nova, man. He just gets to me on his really deep, vital level because he never, ever stops trying. Never.
I want y'all to meet him, if you haven’t yet done so.
And hey! Here are some ways you can do that!
- Annihilation's event page on Marvel Unlimited (digital; subscription service; $9.99/month)
- Nova’s series page on Marvel Unlimited (digital; subscription service; $9.99/month)
- Nova’s series page on comiXology (digital; for purchase)
- Nova Volume One on Kobo (digital; for purchase; coupons work)
- Nova Volume One on Amazon (Kindle; for purchase)
I receive a small portion of the purchase price if you buy the comic through Kobo or Amazon.
- Spoiler: I might've held it together if Peter Quill hadn't started talking about how much he loved Richard Rider (presumably in the friend sense). That tipped me over the edge. I love him too, man. I love him too.