Op-Ed: Nova: The Turning Point; Richard Rider The New "Death of Captain Marvel"
The Cosmic Triune
Nova: The Turning Point
The Death of Captain Marvel is definitely among the best and most poignant of comic book stories ever told. However, it has over time been elevated to “sacrosanct and immutable” status by Marvel’s senior editorial staff. “Mar-Vell dead” has replaced “Bucky dead” (for obvious reasons) as a term meaning that a character is dead and will be prevented from returning to life only due to editorial intransigence. I would argue that Mar-Vell’s death story doesn’t deserve “sacrosanct and immutable” status, but that’s a subject for a future op-ed.
In this op-ed, I will address the recent announcement by Marvel Vice-President, Tom Brevoort, that current GotGINO writer, Brian Bendis, will be addressing a sore spot among cosmic fans: how Star-Lord and Thanos escaped the Cancerverse while the true Nova, Rich Rider, somehow didn’t.
As all true Rider Nova fans and true cosmic fans know, Rich Rider wasn’t really killed at the culmination of The Thanos Imperative. Nova (Volume IV) writers, Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning, have been very clear in stating that they didn’t kill Rich – just merely put him in limbo until they could bring him back and continue his story when his ongoing series was taken off of “hiatus” by Marvel’s editorial staff. Of course, DnA’s Nova (Volume IV) and Guardians of the Galaxy (Volume II) - considered by most cosmic fans as the definitive and penultimate volumes of both series - never got the opportunity to return from hiatus. As recounted by Marvel President Axel Alonso, it was decided to reboot both series with new writers (Loeb for Nova and Bendis for GotG) in an attempt to integrate Marvel Cosmic into the Marvel Earth universe and make cosmic more accessible to the typical comic book buyer. As we all know, Alonso succeeded – and ruined both concepts in the process.
Loeb’s Nova (Volume V) has earned the name, “Nova in Name Only” (i.e. NINO), as the mature and ultra-powerful leader of men, Rich Rider, was suddenly said to have been killed at the end of The Thanos Imperative and replaced by an annoying 14-year-old child bumbling his way through pedestrian “adventures” on Earth in a blatant, creatively bankrupt attempt to re-package yesteryear’s teen Peter Parker for today’s pre-pubescent audience. In other words, Rich was “killed” via editorial fiat to make room for NINO. NINO has not been well received, has experienced steadily falling sales, and has earned the ire of long-term fans of the true Nova, Rich Rider. Likewise, Bendis’ Guardians of the Galaxy (Volume III), termed GotGINO by many fans, has replaced the awe and wonder of the cosmos with a pedestrian, Seinfeld-ish version of GotG – literally a “comic about nothing.” Whereas DnA’s version of GotG had interesting characters with distinct personalities single-handedly taking on universal threats, Bendis has reduced the characters to generic personalities shouting catch phrases or making lame jokes while bumbling their way through barely defending only minor threats to Earth that are beneath the notice of the Avengers. Bendis’ GotG are essentially third-string errand boys for the Avengers. How the mighty have fallen.
Given the hack-job perpetrated against cosmic as described above, Rider Nova fans are understandably concerned about a Bendis-written and Brevoort/Alonso overseen account of what happened to Rich after the events of The Thanos Imperative when he was last seen marooned in the Cancerverse with Star-Lord and Thanos.
The smart thing for Marvel to do would be to see this for the turning point that it is, and take the opportunity to mend fences with the Rider Nova fans (aka – potential paying customers in a comic book environment of falling sales and increasing competition) by bringing Rich back to be the powerful and mature Nova Prime of the cosmos busy doing what he should be doing – resurrecting Xandar. Since Dan Abnett is going to be back writing for Marvel, let him write the story of Rich’s return as he originally intended. To placate the small group of NINO fans and Marvel’s desperation to make NINO the only Nova on Earth, Rich never again has to set foot on Earth. Earth can be left to the little twit, NINO, as far as I’m concerned. NINO won’t make it to issue #20, the Ultimate Spider-Man cartoon will be over in 3 seasons, and New Warriors in Name Only (NeWINO) will be DOA despite Marvel’s desperation to make NINO work – so we’ll hopefully see the last of NINO soon if natural selection is allowed to prevail.
But, as already demonstrated by Marvel’s current leadership, we can’t count on them to do the smart thing with cosmic or with the Rider Nova character, and they apparently don’t care about cultivating their relationship with Rider Nova fans. Given their desperation to make NINO work, the open hostility that members of Marvel’s editorial staff have publicly displayed against any Rider Nova fan publicly objecting to the disrespect Marvel has shown to Rider Nova fans, and Marvel’s consistent message to us, to just “shut up and buy NINO or they’ll be no ‘Nova’ at all." It doesn’t take a weatherman to see which way this wind is blowing. Bendis is going to write a story making Rich Rider “Mar-Vell dead” in order to cement NINO in place forevermore.
Let’s stop that from happening by accelerating the process of natural selection in regard to NINO. NINO needs to be a demonstrated failure so there will be no temptation to make Rich “Mar-Vell dead.” Since all Marvel understands and respects is dollars, the message is going to have to be sent via that route. I know some think the “collaborator” approach is the best way. That is, some think that supporting NINO will bring Rich back. Nope. Buying NINO and GotGINO will only get you more NINO and GotGINO. Sometimes you’ve got to burn the village to save it. If you’re still buying NINO, stop immediately. And don’t buy NeWINO either since it features NINO. Stop watching the USM cartoon and if you’ve set your DVR to record it – stop that immediately to help drive ratings down. Don’t buy any NINO merchandise. Spoil Bendis’ intention to make Rich “Mar-Vell dead” by talking about it on every forum you visit. Then go to Bendis’ Tumblr page or twitter feed, Brevoort’s Tumblr page or twitter feed, and Alonso’s twitter feed and tell them about your displeasure with NINO, and why you’re not buying their products. Make it clear that the same thing will happen to GotGINO if Bendis kills off Rich Rider. That makes more of a difference than you think – and even if they don’t publish it, they still read it. Make them understand why their choices about cosmic are losing them customers (i.e. money). And even if this strategy doesn’t bring Rich Rider back, it’ll at least sink NINO. As I’ve always said, better no Nova than NINO.