Issue(s): Nova #1
Rich Rider is a loser. He's not good at sports and he's not good at school.
He does have a cute girlfriend named Ginger, and a bunch of nice friends but he doesn't seem happy with his life.
Meanwhile, a dying alien soldier (Rhomann Dey, rank: Nova Centurian) hunts down a criminal named Zorr to planet Earth.
Zorr has destroyed the Nova's world, after his own Luphomoid world was destroyed by Galactus (Zorr happened to be off-world raiding another planet at the time). The alien transfers his powers and costume to Rich.
Later, Rich finds Zorr.
However, Zorr is too powerful for Rich, and the Nova alien transports Zorr to his spaceship where both he and Zorr are killed in battle.
The story sets up a lot of high school drama similar to the early issues of Spider-Man but it doesn't have that level of hopelessness that early Spider-Man issues had.
The dialogue is a bit simplistic, not sure if that's a deliberate attempt to make the book more accessible to children or just Wolfman's style, but there's nothing wrong with it. Buscema's art, especially with Sinnott's inks, is very nice.
For what it's worth, the space pirate Nebula will later claim to be Zorr's daughter, and she also claims to be Thanos' granddaughter. Not sure if that makes Zorr Thanos' son, and Nebula's claims have been disputed anyway.
Quality Rating: C+
Chronological Placement Considerations: N/A
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (5): showBernie Dillon, Caps Cooper, Charles Rider, Donna-Lee Dover, Ginger Jaye-Firestone, Gloria Rider, Mike Burley, Nova (Rich Rider), Robbie Rider
The problem for me is that it's trying to do two different concepts which I don't think work well together. The first is a kid superhero (ala early Spidey) fighting crime. The second is this cosmic space hero with epic adversaries. All the space hero stuff does not balance well with characters like Crimebuster, Condor, Diamondhead, etc. Nor does the need for Rider to be in school lend itself to long term space voyages and stories involving Xandar.
Either concept would work fine, but the interplay between them stinks. Plus Nova would be saddled with a horrible rogue's gallery. I am a firm believer that the quality of one's villains is very important in making a title good, and Wolfman is just awful here.
Posted by: Chris | December 18, 2013 10:17 PM
Personally, it was the cosmic concepts I enjoyed about the book.
Posted by: ChrisKafka | December 18, 2013 10:48 PM
I suppose they may have tried for a Green Lantern Corps feel, which in turn recalls the Lensmen. I will note that with Nova the Lensmen overtones commenced from the start (the 1940's GL lacked a galactic theme).
Posted by: PB210 | December 19, 2013 6:43 PM
It was pretty obviously a GL take-off, as Nova's origin is pretty close to being the same as Hal Jordan's.
Posted by: ChrisKafka | December 19, 2013 7:37 PM
I agree that GL has the same problem, but that can easily be solved in the GL book itself. Personally, I'd have Hal Jordan be off Earth for most of the book except when he returns for time off to relax. If he fights villains on Earth, I'd have most of them be alien invaders and avoid him fighting humans except for really good concepts. Most of the standard "crime fighter" stuff I'd relegate to JLA book.
Nova though is worse off because Richard Rider is not a Chuck Yeager analogue, but a dorky teen. Nothing wrong with that - it's great with Spider-Man and others - but it doesn't fit with the other elements. Even being a kid isn't necessarily bad, as that could still fit in with the idea of being a cosmic champion (The Last Starfighter joined the two entertainingly), but the other elements undermine that.
At least GL is a good concept which has had bad execution. Nova is a flawed mix of two concepts.
Furthermore, there is very little with Nova's powers - flight, moderate super strength, special crash helmet - that really screams out "cosmic" hero. They are generic super powers. He could have easily gotten them through Element X or whatever super science accident de jure.
I think whatever macguffin gives a character super powers is almost completely irrelevant. The real "origin" of the hero is WHY the character decides to go down that route as opposed to turning his back on the heroic journey.
Great looking costume though. The costume alone justifies the periodic attempts to revive the character.
Posted by: Chris | December 19, 2013 8:35 PM
"I suppose they may have tried for a Green Lantern Corps feel..."
Apparently so, since they would literally do just that a few decades later.
Also apparently being a "dorky teen" is considered a key part of the Nova...er..."mystique" since they create an even dorkier one after Richard.
Posted by: Jon Dubya | May 3, 2016 1:56 AM
Maybe Zorr is the son-in-law to Thanos? Which does bring up a frightening point: what would the daughter of Thanos be like?
Posted by: D09 | May 28, 2016 5:59 PM
Probably like Nebula. Or maybe Gamora.
Posted by: OrangeDuke | January 17, 2018 2:33 PM
Also, Chris, isn't the "problem" with Nova's powers resolve when they reveal a whole bu ch of new ones later on?
Posted by: Jon Dubya | January 18, 2018 8:20 AM
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