Fan Fic: An Introduction to NOVA 619
Monday, October 25, 2010 - 22:09
I've been a fan of Nova for a very long time; however, I had to admit that until my later teens, I actually didn't collect comics at all. In fact, to be truthful I just wasn't interested in them! You see back in the early '70s when I was growing up in not so merry old England, young Darren was more interested in science fiction shows -- notably Doctor Who, Space 1999, The Tomorrow People, Star Trek and non SF stuff like It's a Knockout, Blue Peter and Bruce Forsyth's Generation Game, Saturday evening treats that most of us grew up on. However one afternoon in 1980, give or take, when I was visiting my local market, I came across this seller who had an extensive collection of old books, magazines and American Marvel Comics. I flicked through them and bought my first ever copy of Fantastic Four, issue 256 precisely for 20p (boy, those were the days, unlike how much they cost now!) -- the second issue I got was a copy of The Man Called Nova, issue 6 to be precise.
Now I don't know what caught my eye, but there was something that really crossed all the boxes in my imagination about Nova as a character. His background was very ordinary: teenager living in Long Island, going to school -- which sorta mirrored that at the time I was in Secondary School (equal to Rich's time at High School, so there was a definite connection) -- dating his first love of his life, and he has a interest in movies and then, wham-bam! He's become this very cool superhero with a bucket on his head with really good powers, some cool supporting characters and a healthy dose of science fiction added into the mix. Of course I had to fill in the gaps -- thing was, I hadn't realized when I purchased issue 6 that Nova's title had been cancelled in the previous year, that his adventures had continued for a brief time in earlier issues of the Fantastic Four before finishing off in some very obscure comic about a Spaceknight. Searching for those issues of Nova over the next two decades (and I'm still searching even now for that illusive copy of Nova 25 from his first series to complete my collection!!) really flamed my love for American comics. By then I was collecting Doctor Who Weekly and a few Marvel UK comics, notably Alan Moore's Captain Britain, and I'm still collecting today. In fact I may need a mortgage for a new home to house them all.
But I'm digressing; sorry, habit I have! Back to Nova 619! As I write this, we're only a handful of weeks away from the release of the final issue of The Thanos Imperative – which has to be said, has been one hell of a rollercoaster ride for Nova, the Guardians and many of the concepts that make Marvel Cosmic so damn good. But times are a'changing, for a while now the fate of Marvel Cosmic has been uncertain. We've all been thrilled with the stories that Abnett and Lanning have told, spinning out of the exceptional Annihilation, which brought Richard Rider into the A-list tier, shaping Nova into one of the most popular Marvel Cosmic characters since the heydays of the Silver Surfer. And not only that, but who hasn't enjoyed the introduction of Cosmo the talking Russian dog? Knowhere? Nova having a good go battling the aforementioned Silver Surfer to save the inhabitants of Orbucen? Getting close to Gamora (who'd thought that would ever happen)? Saving Project Pegasus from the Skrulls? Quasar?! And losing his status as Nova Prime because the Worldmind went on an Ego trip? Okay, perhaps we can forget the last one. Over 36 issues, DnA built upon Annihilation and that is something that even an ego-enhanced loon like me could never compete with. Although it hasn't stopped Nova fans trying. Just re-read Timelord's "Nova: The Next Generation" fics here at CBN or the other Nova fics which you can find on the net.
So why the das't am I doing this as well? Well, there are several reasons. First is that I've always wanted to write Nova stories myself. Two, apart from my love of comics I've also been drawing since I was knee-high to Pip the Troll but like most things as you get older you end up being distracted -- work, family, all that human drama -- which in itself acts a great source for writing. But how to approach doing a Nova fan series, even with the added dimension of pictures and words? Well, that's a task and a half and I have to say it's been quite a task juggling this with everything else I do.
Of course the first task was choosing where to begin. And that was easy. Firstly, the Marvel Universe has a very handy mechanism. It's called the Omniverse. Created by Alan Moore in those wonderful Captain Britain comics -- Marvel U.S. utilized the concept of alternative universes in their "What If?" comics -- with the premise that there are myriad divergent points in time and space where characters (or us) can make decisions, creating new realities without affecting the primary reality, which Moore dubbed Earth 616. Nova creator Marv Wolfman delved into the concept with "What if Nova had been four different people?" Instead of Richard Rider gaining the powers of a Centurion, Peter Parker, an unknown soldier, a crazed lady and minor crook used the Nova Force for different purposes, often creating tragic scenarios affecting millions. In a later Bill Mantlo story, having stripped Richard Rider of his powers in ROM #24, there was a story told of a Richard Rider who refused to give up his powers to protect Xandar at any cost. And in New Warriors, 616 Richard Rider briefly found himself in the alternate reality ruled by a female Sphinx and he was a member of the Avengers!
So the first thing about Nova 619 is that as the number signifies its set in an alternative timeline so continuity wise it doesn't affect everything you've read in DnA's Nova series. It can't because from the 619 perspective, none of what happened in Nova's fourth series ever happened! The actual divergent point is told in the second of two 6-page prologues -- and its not a mind-blowing, over the top divergence. In fact when you read it it's actually very subtle, a simple decision that affectively opens up a different path that 619 Richard Rider chooses to follow, yet actually acknowledging events and scenarios that were already in place in Annihilation.
And yes, you can breathe a sign of relief, Nova fans; Nova 619 is Richard Rider. I mean, could Nova ever be anyone else? It's a crime that I'm not about to commit; of course negating Nova's fourth series does mean certain events are affectively null and void, so apologies to Wendell Vaughn fans. Quasar in the 619 is still dead (for the moment!) and there's no such thing as the Guardians of the Galaxy or a Phalanx invasion of Hala or Galactus ate Orbucen or Richard Rider learning that the New Warriors are dead and it's all Nitro's fault and no Cancerverse -- so if Nova does end up dying to save Peter Quill's ass in next month's issue, well, at least it won't have happen here! (For the record, I hope it doesn't happen and I hope the rumors of a Cosmic Avengers really do come to pass for DnA!)
In writing Richard himself, I loved the tough Richard Rider of Annihilation - which is odd since Giffen presented a Richard Rider that was quite different from what had gone before. It was such a change but it made sense. This was Rich all grown-up. He was no longer the wisecracking Peter Parker substitute from his '70s series. Instead the character has re-taken aspects from his New Warriors days -- older, more responsible -- shaped by Drax and coming to terms of being the only Nova Centurion left after the Annihilation Wave obliterated Xandar and the Nova Corps. It was a Richard that grew on me and everyone else and even though DnA slowly, subtly re-meshed in the old '70s traits -- more Blue Blazes and so on -- essentially those around him, like Darkhawk, recognized how much life in space had changed him. So in the 619, this is the Rider template I've decided to follow, working out just one of an infinite number of divergences that he could follow but retaining the quintessential elements that define Rich for who he is. Well, some of them!
The backdrop of the 619 is the cold war scenario between Emperor Ronan, Lord Ravenous and Barroness S'Bak. As you'll gather these three could set the entire Universe ablaze - the peace cemented by the Armistice Treaty signed on Annihilation Day 268 is a fragile one at best – and could break at any time. The newly created Verge Senate – formerly the Galactic Council - has many issues to deal with: hundreds of worlds decimated by the Wave armada, populations in a state of re-building or in Diaspora, without worlds to call their own. Crime, too, has escalated. New Shadow Consortiums and Kartels selling illegal weapons, drugs and other nastiness on a resurgent cosmic black market aided by Veradiane mercenaries. I'm very privileged to incorporate the Veradinae species into the 619, created by Timelord in his New Nova Fictions. I hope he likes what I've done! And I also hope you like the re-introduction of the P'tah, that gravity crazy race from Thunderbolts who I think deserve more print time.
For Richard Rider, he has decisions to make. Where does he stand in all of this? Does he reform the Nova Corps so soon after Xandar was obliterated? Does he rekindle old alliances? Or "new" ones? Does he honor his original mission to safeguard the Worldmind? And does he still have that wicked scar on his face? And what of the prime Nova concepts? Many fans have wanted to see Xandarian history explored. Who were they? What is the Nova Force? Are there other surviving Xandarians out there? And what the hell are the Rubicon and their relation to a very old Nova foe from the past. And yes, I do have a wicked tale involving time-travel and dipping my toes on Epyrus 7!
Bringing to life Nova 619 is itself a challenge. One problem with fan produced projects is that unlike their Marvel counterparts you have to do them around your real day to day life. So right from the beginning I decided to make Nova 619 an interactive project. Early in 2009 I joined Deviant Art, an online art community for both professional and amateur comic artists and writers. I've gotten to know quite a number there from all over the world - and happily, many of them are also fans of Marvel Cosmic and Nova specifically. So when I suggested the idea of doing a Nova comic/serial quite a few jumped at the opportunity. Apart from trying to do a Nova comic, Nova 619 is also designed to help not only myself as a writer/improve my own art skills but also to help participating artists in their techniques of sequential art, to contribute ideas to the arcs and add their own stamp on what makes Nova stick. To act as a hub, I formed the Nova Prime DA Group at Deviant Art. I'm still open to new recruits – writers, co-writers, proof readers and additional creative types – so if you want to consider taking part in Nova 619 I'd love to hear from you!
To share credit where credit is due, some of the Nova 619 team have set aside a few brief nanoseconds to write a few words about themselves, so take it away!
"Hi! I'm Jason Heichel from Pennsylvania, United States. I'm a self taught artist whose abilities were born out of wanting to see things that Saturday morning cartoons didn't have the scope for. Comics were introduced to me in the third grade and they've been a passion for the last 20 years. Now as an adult I'm intrigued about how advanced comics are now in terms of story, art and technology as I continue to develop my talents. As a relatively recent convert to the Nova/Marvel Cosmic fan base I'm immensely enjoying contributing to the Nova 619 project and looking forward to sharing it with the fans!"
"My name is Israel Huertas from Madrid, Spain. I´m married and have two wonderful daughters. I draw superhero art for two Spanish fan-fiction sites, Marveltopia and Action Tales. I draw covers, design characters and also do some writing. I discovered Nova some years ago when I collected New Warriors and I always liked the way Nicieza wrote Nova. I've followed Nova since then and now enjoy the new Marvel Cosmic universe around Richard Rider. I like this Nova project because I enjoy the writing - and the way we all collaborating from every side of the Atlantic to bring new continuity to this awesome character. Hope everybody enjoys it too."
"My name is Marc Bourcier. I am a photographer and graphic designer from Montreal, Quebec, Canada - who has always had a love for comic books. Used to draw a lot but my artwork was never up to standard of the world I loved. Recently I discovered some digital coloring techniques using the tools I know so well as a graphic designer and have been enjoying this world once again."
"Hi! I'm Chris Anderson from the USA. I'm a Graphic Designer with a long standing love of Comic Books with a particular interest in Science Fiction. The comic industries new resurgence in things of a cosmic nature have been a delight, one that I enjoy being a part of."
As for me, you really want to know something about me. Sorry - no can do - I have a secret identity to protect - and no Superhero Registration Act will….what? It got annulled?! Maybe at Christmas, say in 2020!
And what's in store, I hear you ask? Well, next month you'll see the first of two 6-page prologues that start things off, one set in 1960s China (that's a clue) and the other dealing with the change that Rich 619 makes that sets the whole "divergency" thing going. Then in January 2011 starts the first arc, "Serve and Protect," which will be a serialized strip, on a 5/6 week basis. But if you don't like your comic reading broken up, don't fret because the plan is to collect the parts into handy 22 page PDF comics which you can download and it won't cost you a penny or cent!
Before closing I have to give a very big thank you to Matt and Doug for supporting Nova 619. Initially, the series will be hosted here at CBN and it's a real privilege to have the project showcased here.
If you want to visit Nova Prime DA then go to firstname.lastname@example.org. Registration to DA is free and if you visit and want to join the group or even become a contributor then just PM or alternatively contact me at email@example.com Likewise, you can post any comments or criticisms in the CBN forum for Nova 619 in the Creative section.
I hope you all like what you see. Now where did I leave that P'tah Solarshark?