(Marvel NOW!, 2013) - Reviewed by Feral Fang
My history with Nova as a character is somewhat spotty, but he’s always been one interesting enough to me to ‘dip in’ when I could. I’d find the random issues of the original series in the cheap-o comic boxes when I was a kid, and would usually pick up one or two. It wasn’t the greatest comic or most original idea (it was always targeted for being “Green Lantern” meets “Spider-Man” - Spidey due to Nova being a teenager, “Green Lantern” due to his being a member of a multi-species intergalactic police force - the Nova Corp), but I loved the character design, the look of the comic, and well - it was just fun. And cheap, too! When they brought the Richard Rider version of Nova back with the early 90’s “New Warriors” title, my interest grew even more. As that title went it’s own way and I ventured elsewhere, I noticed over time that Nova was showing up more and more in the Marvel Universe, even getting a few mini-series and titles here and there. Sadly, I never had the chance to pick up any of those series as they came out, but that’s just fine at the moment. Why? Because Nova is back. Sort of. No more Rider, enter Sam Alexander.
As a character, Sam is many things, and we learn this pretty early on. After a quick look into Nova Corp past, we open on modern day Earth. Sam is at school, where his Father - who may or may not have previously been one of the Nova Corp (Sam leans on the side of “not”) - is now the school Janitor, currently vomiting violently in the Boy’s bathroom. Acknowledging the fact that he’ll actually be the one to (once again) finish the cleaning for his drunken Father, Sam helps him up and off to his garage. He stands tall while his Father falls into a drunken sleep and in a telling shot, we see his Father’s old Nova helmet on a shelf behind him, tossed aside like forgotten sporting gear. A closer shot makes it clear that there are workings involving the helmet that have yet to come into play. To me, all of these short instances - beginning right in this first scene at the school - sums up Sam’s character perfectly. Though he hates the situation he’s in, and wishes more than anything to leave the small town of ‘Carefree’, he keeps it mostly inside and does what needs to be done. He is at once a caring son and a frustrated ‘nurse’ for his Father, even if the frustration is based on his fear for his Father’s life and safety. He is an older brother, with his sister Kaelynn, who he openly loves and watches over, joking with her about believing their Dad’s “stories” of his Nova Corp adventures. Though she is young enough to still believe in fantasies, she honestly fears that their Father will one day be called back by the “Novas”, as she calls them. She believes him to be the “Greatest Nova Ever”, something she says with awe and respect. There are major differences between these siblings, however. While Kaelynn is cute, gentle, and trusting, Sam is snide and quick tempered - especially with his Mother, who might even be quicker to anger than Sam is. She scolds Sam for not wanting Kaelynn to focus on such “fantasies”, eventually hinting at a greater story, stating that Sam has “no idea of the sacrifices” his Father had made. Sam’s personality begins to take shape at this point. He is a fighter, a care-giver, a jaded teenager and a loving brother. He is also a dreamer - but this time he just might get more than he’s ever wanted. It takes a love interest and a few colorful characters from the Marvel Universe to finally bring him to his apparent destiny - becoming the next Nova. Which is perfect, since he believes his Dad’s stories are completely fiction.
This new Nova - or rather, Sam Alexander - is written like an angst-filled teenager, which makes perfect sense given his life at the moment. I can understand that. Jeph Loeb’s script, however, made him more annoying than troubled, and a character that is pretty hard to like, even given his love and care towards his sister and Father. He’s whiny, selfish, and is written a bit unimaginatively, almost as if relying on the list of standard ‘disturbed teen’ cliches. The rest of the book is a nicely spun drama with perfect touches of action and emotion, all balanced very well between one story environment to another. While I enjoyed most of the script, I also felt it was missing something I couldn’t put my finger on. The pacing is slightly fast moving, and I feel it read a bit too quickly, even in these days of ‘movie trailer’ length 1st issues. An odd thing about this book is that I came into it not much of a fan of Ed McGuinness’ art, and left it very curious about what else he’s currently up to. McGuinness’ artwork in this title is crisp, smooth, and rarely showed the ‘bulge’ look a lot of his earlier work had. It really fit well, especially with the Nova universe backstory and ‘storytelling’ scenes. In the end, it makes for a nicely fluid action story mixed between scenes of dark drama, some of which you would not expect given the almost completely silly looking cover. All said, I enjoyed this title, and will be checking in for issue #2. I at least owe Nova that much, after all these years of neglect.
WRITING: 7 / 10
ARTWORK: 7 / 10
OVERALL EXPERIENCE: 7.5 / 10