Thursday, April 5, 2012

Nova--science fiction superhero






It was the swingin' 70s.

A comic book character saw his first publication during that decade, in 1976 to be exact.  Richard Rider started out as a regular high school student in New York City suburb...that same metro area that Marvel placed almost all of its comics.  One day, Rider is chosen by an alien named Rhomann Dey who happens to be the last surviving Nova Centurion from the planet Xandar's force of Nova Corps.  Dey was breathing his last, mortally wounded in the battle where Xandar was destroyed by an interstellar criminal named Zorr.  Yet Dey was a Nova Centurion and that meant more to him than just a title, darn it.  He chased Zorr to Earth.  Unable to hold on any longer, Rhomann Dey releases the power of his ring...er, I mean Nova to whomever on Earth might be lucky/cursed enough to find it.

That soul is...as I said...Richard Rider: teenager at large.  Though once the mere suburban ephebe is given the supercool-guy longjohns of Nova, his life drastically changes.  As Nova, Rider has superhuman strength, nigh-invulnerable skin, and can fly like faster than...don't make me say it.  He is also able to absorb and discharge energy and eventually finds that he can control black holes to a certain degree. 

Yeah, I know.  There's like four different superhero tropes mixed in there but I never said Nova wasn't derivative.  I'm just saying that his comic book had strong science fiction elements and was an awful lot of fun to read.

In time, Nova realizes that Rhomann Dey's spaceship is still orbiting Earth although is invisible due to a cloaking device.  Finding this ship eventually grants him access to the Xandarian Worldmind, a sort of AI supercomputer that gives him complete control over his Nova powers.  It also sends him across the galaxy into battle with those evil, shape-shifting aliens, the Skrulls.  Nova was even given his own archenemy: The Sphinx.  The Sphinx was a being from ancient Egypt named Anath-Na Mut.  A magician to be exact, working in the court of the Pharaoh before getting spanked by Moses.  Yes, that Moses in his comic book battle debut.  Things appear to work out okay for Mut, however, as he happens across something amidst the pyramids...an alien artifact called the Ka Stone which renders him immortal and endowed with numerous superpowers.  Man, I cannot wait until Giorgio Tsoukalos gets this on his show.

Nova had several guest-stars stop by in his book.  Everybody from Spider-Man to...well, you name it just about.  After his series was cancelled, Nova returned to comics as a member of the New Warriors.  When that got the axe, he came back yet again in Marvel's Annihilation series.  Seems that the character of Nova is almost as durable as his own powers make him out to be.  The guy has a small but strong cult following among both readers and creators, bringing him back around cyclically and introducing him to a new generation of readers. 

Sure, Nova was derivative.  Didn't stop it from being a fun book.


Now who didn't have that problem as a kid?


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2 comments:

  1. I thought for sure this was going to be Marvel's next "big thing."

    Still a fan, so I guess I'd fall into that "cult" group.

    Thanks for posting this !

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  2. No problem!
    Thanks for reading.
    And with my copy of Essential Nova right here, I'm in the cult, too. :)

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