Nova #17 Review (Duggan)
In this issue of 1960’s Spiderman Inferiorly Re-packaged………..er……….I mean, NINO, the cover pretty much sums up everything that’s wrong with this book.
Upon seeing the silly, cutesy, child-oriented cover of this book sitting on the shelf of the local comic shop, I immediately realized it was designed to make adults say, “Awwwwww – how cute – they’re playing dress-up” and without thinking buy this trash for their children. Now – if they thought about it – what you’ve got depicted is two irresponsible minor children playing with a weapon of mass destruction and irresponsible parents allowing/encouraging them to do just that. I know – I know – all the zombies will be quick to point out that “it’s not real – just fantasy.” But is that the message you really want your impressionable children picking up from their “fantasy?” And if you’re an adult – don’t you have to go to extraordinary effort to ignore the absurdity and suspend disbelief? Doesn’t that extraordinary effort speak to the quality of the product and render it too puerile for adult consumption? That’s the first thing that made bile begin to rise into my throat.
Then I read the content of the word balloon and sneered because it sums up Marvel’s attitude about this book and the Nova concepts. They refer to the customer as “dummies” (aka “zombies”) and demand that you buy the book or be deprived of GotGINO (Guardians of the Galaxy In Name Only). Not much of a threat there for me. If I owned any of Bendis’ GotGINO, the snaggle-toothed little idiot depicted on the cover would be welcome to come over and rip them up. I just shook my head and let the nausea subside. Brevoort has threatened repeatedly that we either buy NINO or there will be no “Nova” at all – and there is a paraphrase of that attitude in print right there on the cover of this book. Fine. I’ll take no “Nova” at all over NINO any day. I’m not so desperate for a book that has “Nova” smeared across the cover that I’ll accept this trash. But just out of curiosity – I’ve got a few questions for those still buying this crime against the Nova mythos: Do you enjoy being taken for granted? Doesn’t it upset you that Marvel is basically saying to you in print what a certain former Marvel Editor says to you on forums (i.e. “Bitch all you want. I know you’ll still buy every issue”)? Do you like being called “dummies” for buying an inferior product while they laugh and know you’ll buy it anyway? Do you like a business trying to sell you something by making fun of you and insulting your intelligence?
I could stop writing now because the cover really does sum up the entire issue and everything that’s wrong with this book. But – let’s press on anyway.
Once again NINO proves he’s a disgrace to the uniform. First – NINO brings some radioactive material home and irradiates his neighborhood – endangering everyone’s lives. Brilliant, responsible, and heroic? I think not. Then he’s left babysitting his sister and he falls asleep failing to secure the “magic helmet.” Whereupon his sister puts it on, gains the powers and blows a hole in the side of the house. Brilliant, responsible, and heroic? I think not. Then he intervenes in an accident and his actions cause someone’s house to catch fire and burn to the ground. Brilliant, responsible, and heroic? I think not. Idiotic, irresponsible, and foolhardy? I think so.
Further, in a recent interview, Duggan described NINO’s mother as a “soldier’s wife.” He therefore tacitly acknowledges that Jesse and Sam are indeed “super-powered soldiers” and not classic vigilante “superheroes.” The zombies are quick to point to New Mutants, Young Avengers, Robin, Teen Titans, etc. as examples of teen vigilante superheroes – using “precedent” as an argument to justify the morality of NINO’s existence as a child soldier. I would point out that a soldier is not a vigilante. A soldier is recruited according to set criteria and trained in the art and science of combat. A soldier reports to and is empowered by a higher authority. A soldier has a code of conduct, a duty, and a mission to perform – in other words, specified responsibilities. NINO wears the uniform and carries the powers of a Nova Centurion – a living weapon of mass destruction – the backbone of Xandar’s military. However, NINO is a 14-year-old child irresponsibly playing at being a soldier as if playing a video game. NINO has none of the training and commitment to duty of a true soldier. NINO is also repeatedly sent into heavy kill-or-be-killed combat by adults who should know better than to endanger a child. Xandar was never portrayed as a rogue civilization that used child soldiers like Somalian Pirates or Al Qaida. Marvel/Disney is sending a bad message to the kiddies at whom this book is presumably aimed. In a way, they’re glorifying the use of child soldiers in kill-or-be-killed combat. NINO is not only a disgrace to the uniform, his very existence as a child soldier is immoral. Before any zombie shouts, “Bucky!” – his existence as a 15-year-old child soldier was immoral, too. Also – just to preclude the typical zombie arguments in defense of NINO, Rider was 17 (age of military enlistment eligibility in most Western nations) when he got the powers and 18 when he went to war.
Speaking of NINO’s mother – she once again proves that she’s unfit to lead a family. She allows NINO to skip school – sending a message to the kiddies reading the book that school isn’t important. Knowing of NINO’s irresponsibility, she leaves him to babysit and he falls asleep and allows his sister to endanger her life and the lives of others by playing with a weapon of mass destruction. She repeatedly encourages NINO to fly off and endanger his life. What kind of mother does things like this? That is, besides the ones who have files with Child Protective Services? And the Avengers, New Warriors, Beta Ray Bill and others who are age of majority also encourage this? Is every adult in the Marvel 616 an idiot? The zombies will again point out that this “isn’t real.” Yeah zombies – I know that. And will you admit that it’s so “unreal” that it’s absurdly and intelligence-insultingly stupid? Is disrespect for school and teachers the message you want sent to children? Don’t you want your entertainment to talk up to you? Or has the zombie virus totally taken over your brains?
Face it, NINO represents the Justin Bieber-ization of the Nova concepts by a bunch of out-of-touch, middle-aged Marvel writers/editors who mistakenly think they can capture a young audience by re-packaging tired old comic book tropes and dressing them up with things that used to be of interest to 13-15-year-olds (video games, skateboarding, backward caps, slang expressions, etc). Bieber-NINO is a miserable failure as proved by steadily falling sales despite the greatest marketing campaign I’ve ever seen for a new comic character (i.e. cartoon appearances, video game appearances, variant covers, crossovers, merchandise, top artists, popular writers). That should tell you something, Marvel Editors. It should tell you that NINO is a bad concept. It should also tell you that you’ve completely alienated the existing Rider Nova fan base because NINO sells less well than Rider Nova did without all the marketing hype.
Let me spell it out. With NINO you have the right marketing strategy paired with the wrong (and terribly inferior) concept. With Nova Volume IV, you had the wrong marketing strategy (i.e. non-existent) paired with the right (superior) concept. I suppose it’s too much to expect Brevoort and Alonso to actually get something right, but the next step is obvious. Nix Bieber-NINO, keep the marketing strategy, and apply it to a resurrected Volume IV Rider Nova.
I know that will never happen. Bendis has said he’s had the story of Rich’s fate in mind since before NINO was even announced. If that’s true, you can bet he’s not going to treat Rider Nova or his fans kindly. Bendis will no doubt continue the humiliation treatment by definitively killing Rich, or completely de-powering Rich, or villain-izing Rich, or Bieber-izing Rich by revealing that he is really an age-regressed Sam, or bringing Rich back to play second-fiddle to NINO, or revealing that Rich is really the aged and broken-down-drunk-loser, Jesse. What Bendis definitely won’t do is bring Rich back as the mature, powerful, Nova Prime from Volume IV – because that would be too much of a threat to Bieber-NINO – the absurd, immoral trash that Marvel desperately wants to sell. Frankly, I would personally prefer Rich’s fate to remain in doubt until NINO fails and a better writing/editorial team comes along in the future that actually respects the Rider Nova character and his fans. I don’t want Rich brought back to in any way play second-fiddle to NINO. And I’m willing to wait for as long as it takes to have Rich brought back right – because I know that Bendis, Brevoort, and Alonso will just make Rich a NINO, too. Better no Nova than NINO.