Timelord Reviews Point One #1: Nova: "Harbinger"
Release Date:November 9th, 2011
This take on Nova made my teeth hurt from all the grinding I did of them.
Where do I start?
Characterization: Hated it. After Annihilation, we had a Nova who had finally broken away from the teenage Peter Parker-ish personality, acquired an Alpha-Plus power set, and through his wartime experiences had evolved into a respected leader of men. Now, Loeb and Brevoort hand us something more akin to the silly side-kicky teen Nova most recently seen in the alternate universe Marvel Adventures Superheroes "all ages" book. This new and not very powerful Nova easily gets his ass handed to him by Terrax while shouting "Nooo!" like a little girl. He then flies away from the battle crying -- that's right, I said crying -- he's drawn with tears flowing from his eyes as he whines about what an "Epic Fail" he was in his mission. Seriously Mr. Loeb? Seriously Mr. Brevoort? This is your understanding of Nova and of Cosmic? Epic fail indeed on the part of both of you. This weak characterization will not attract new fans, will alienate old fans, and will only reinforce the disrespect of the character by those who never bothered to learn about the true renaissance of the character in Annihilation. Maybe Nova's tears were triggered by the disrespect of this characterization. If Marv Wolfman bothered to read "Harbinger" -- I'm sure he was as saddened as all the rest of us long term fans by this concept rape.
New Uniform: Hated it. This uniform looks like a bad combination of Mega-Man, Tron, and Power Rangers. It's sure to turn off every non-fan of manga-influenced art. To add to the disrespect -- the ranking system of the uniform is incorrect. This Nova wears a Denarian star on his helmet and Centurion stars on his chest. What's his rank? I don't know.
Storyline: Hated it. The writers of the Superhero Squad cartoon appear to understand Nova and Cosmic well enough to identify all the old cliches and skewer them. Sadly, "Harbinger" trots out all the old cliches with a straight face. Weak teenage Nova faces a vastly superior foe, makes bad or impulsive decisions, gets beaten up, fails his mission and has self-esteem problems, etc. Let me guess what's next. The Phoenix Force destroys Xandar leaving the entire Nova Corps and all of Xandar dead except for this new Nova who then journeys to 616 Earth to warn the Avengers the Phoenix is coming and ask for their help. He takes up residence on Earth and becomes a teen sidekick for The Avengers. The "Lone Ranger" teen Nova rides again! (Playing second fiddle to Cap, Thor, and Iron Man of course).
When I first saw the solicits for "Harbinger" I was afraid we were in for a Kyle Rayner treatment of Nova. Now I'm desparately hoping this is a Kyle Rayner treatment. I really hope this is an alternate universe version of Nova (who is not named Rich Rider) and not some brutal retcon of 616 continuity ignoring everything that happened between Annihilation and Thanos Imperative. Why? Because we can then forget about this version and work to bring our 616 Rich back from being marooned in the Cancerverse.
There was never any reason for a new Nova to be created. Rich could've easily been brought back from the Cancerverse to play a big role in this Phoenix storyline. This reboot of Nova stems from a mistaken belief by editorial that a teen rookie Lone Ranger Nova will attract more fans than a powerful more mature young adult military commander Nova.
I'm glad Marvel Editorial finally wants to make Nova a star by promoting him and involving him in the major upcoming storylines. I just wish they'd shown that kind of love to Nova right after Annihilation. If they had, maybe Volume IV would still be being published.