Thursday, June 4, 2015

My Year With Marvel: Nova

Promo cover of Nova #1, featuring a man clad in a dark blue and gold superhero outfit. He wears a gold helmet with a spikey red star extending down the nosepiece, across his eyebrows, and up his forehead. Three glowing circles form a triangle on his torso, while additional glowing circles adorn the back of each of his upraised hands. Lightning crackles around him.

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.)

A comics panel featuring Nova zooming through space as a disembodied head, the Worldmind, hovers in the background. Worldmind says, 'I was speaking figuratively. You are pushing yourself too hard. First the war, now this ceaseless urgency, from one crisis to another.' Nova replies, 'People need my help. They haven't got time to wait.'
From NOVA #1

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!

I receive a small portion of the purchase price if you buy the comic through Kobo or Amazon.

  1. 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.


  1. Okay! I will do my best with this! I still have a week and a bit on my Marvel Unlimited trial, and I am shortly to finish the whole Civil War arc. I have figured out what's going to happen and it's not great. I do not want it to go down the way I am pretty sure it's going to go down based on the titles of the next few comics in my queue.

    1. Yes, those titles are kiiiiiiid of a major spoiler. Which reminds me, they refused to load on either the app or the website when I was reading Civil War. I should go back and see if they'll work for me now.