REVIEW: “Nova” #11

(Marvel Comics, 2013)

Review by Shawn Warner

Written by Gerry Duggan
Pencils by Paco Medina
Inks by Juan Viasco
Color Artwork by David Curiel

Gerry Duggan takes over for Zeb Wells as series writer with this issue. However Duggan made his Nova debut in last issue’s 100th appearance special, writing something of a prelude to this first arc and giving anyone not reading his work in Deadpool a glimpse of the kind of clever wittiness they should expect much more of. Of course Sam Alexander is a very different character from Wade Wilson but even with just one issue under his belt, Duggan’s versatility is evident in the way he handles Nova as a character and a series. In his first complete issue, Duggan captures the charm that has come to be one of the defining characteristics of this series, both of the previous writers, Jeph Loeb and Zeb Wells did a marvelous job of creating a genuinely likable personality for Sam. He’s a bit like Peter Parker without the massive intellect; he’s an average teenage guy from a working class family with money problems, a very relatable archetype for our times. Duggan doesn’t miss a beat, he seamlessly picks up the plot and progresses the big picture narrative with astute awareness of who this character is and who he is going to become as a burgeoning super hero. This series is an amalgamation of comedic and dramatic elements but even more than that it is a complex, multi-facetted tale of a young man fulfilling his destiny by picking up his father’s mantle and becoming a hero while being a son and high school student as well. There is a component of balance that is exemplified by Sam Alexander and the approach he must take to live his life. It is somewhat compartmentalized by design yet chaotic by nature which could describe teenage life in general however when you add the super hero factor things become tumultuous very rapidly.

In this issue Sam discovers the meaning of the spots of light he has been seeing before his eyes. At first he is told by a doctor that they are a symptom of an optical migraine, not content with this explanation he continues to investigate and finds cause to believe they are some sort of map but soon discovers a much more ominous reason for their appearance. Meanwhile in his more mundane life Sam must contend with a bully at school, repeated trips to detention and most recently a compulsory commitment to the chess club. Duggan also makes effective use of Sam’s home life as a source of the story’s more poignant moments, such as his mother’s concern over his nightly patrols and the constant abuse he endures from his schoolmates concerning his father’s position as janitor. The latter part of this issue focuses on one of Sam’s nightly excursions into space and a discovery he makes that is sure to impact the future of Nova and set up a major arc by Duggan.

Artist Paco Medina has been the artist of record since taking over early on for the incomparable Ed McGuinness. Medina has a similar dynamic style to McGuiness both artists excel at the super hero genre and bring a kinetic energy to their action sequences and page composition. It has been wonderful to watch Medina grow and mature as an artist on this book. He has developed a style more of his own of late as his visual storytelling continues to evolve. Medina’s characterizations are very genuine; he makes very shrewd use of facial expressions and body language, imbuing each character with an individual sense of personality and demeanor. I really like his work more and more with every issue.

Issue #11 is a great place to jump on if you haven’t been reading Nova since the start of this series. Duggan is a wonderfully accessible writer who makes complex plots user-friendly, veering away from jargon laden diatribes in favor of believable authentic dialogue. He is a great fit for this book all around with the ability to bring heart and ingenuity to even the most extraordinary premise. Duggan has a flair for humanizing the super human, a way of making the most sensational characters somehow relatable and that’s what makes him so darn good. His narratives are engrossing and his characterizations are engaging, with that template how can you go wrong? He and Medina are one heck of a creative team and I look forward to a long, innovative run from them on Nova. If issue #11 is indicative of what’s in store, this is going to be a historic one. (4.8/5) I suggest you come along for the ride. So until next time, see you at the comic book store.

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Follow Shawn Warner on Twitter:  @shawnwarner629

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