Oped: Nova: The Showdown with Marvel Editorial
The Cosmic Triune
Nova: The Showdown with Marvel Editorial
Now is the time for all true Richard Rider Nova fans to come to the aid of their favorite character.
As everyone now knows, Bendis will reveal the fate of Richard Rider in Issue #18 of his GotGINO (Guardians of the Galaxy In Name Only). This development has been met with a great deal of consternation from Rider Nova fans worldwide – and for good reason given Marvel’s treatment of the character and fans of the character over the past two years.
A little background is in order. The Annihilation event and subsequent Nova (Volume IV; 2007-2010) series redefined the Richard Rider character from the teenage Peter Parker-ish inspired iteration originating in Nova (Volume I; 1976-1979) and persisting in slightly modified form over succeeding volumes to a mature, powerful, battle-hardened leader of men. Fans of the character celebrated this major change for the better, and most long-term fans believed that their favorite character had finally actualized the potential they had always longed for but only rarely glimpsed in the character. Writers, Giffen and DnA, had recognized the same potential as the fans and acted to bring it to fresh, stunning and imaginative life; while most prior writers had merely focused on trying to re-create Spiderman. In essence, with the new and improved Richard Rider Nova, we had a Nova for a new generation.
As an interesting aside, I’ve had personal communication with Marv Wolfman, creator of the Rider Nova character, and he indicated to me that he intended to take Rider Nova in the same direction as Giffen/DnA of more mature space-based adventures had his original series not been cancelled. Essentially, the Peter Parker-ish similarities were originally used to sell the idea to Marvel Editorial and to get the comic book buyers of the 1976 era to give the series a try, but he always intended to evolve the character into something better, more mature, and unique for the era. Sadly, Marvel Editorial has not shared such vision for the character and has been determined to keep the character/concept a “One-Trick Pony” – stuck forevermore in “pale imitation of Peter Parker” mode. And that brings us to NINO (Nova In Name Only).
As we all know, the best and all time fan-favorite Rider Nova iteration, Volume IV, was placed on “hiatus” in 2010 prior to The Thanos Imperative event. Then Marvel EIC, Joe Quesada, stated that sales were not a factor in that decision; so fans naturally assumed that the series would resume after The Thanos Imperative event. So we waited. And we waited some more. And we eventually learned that “hiatus” is apparently “Marvel-speak” for “cancellation.” We then learned that Jeph Loeb had hijacked the Nova concepts and was replacing Rider with an obnoxious 13-year-old teen Peter-Parker-ish personality/storyline. In other words, Loeb was back-stepping to the old clichés we’d finally overcome – in essence creating a “Nova” (In Name Only) for a past generation by once again re-packaging Spiderman, and in ultimate disrespect of the loyalty of the Rider Nova fans, he believed we’d buy anything with the word, “Nova,” smeared across the cover of the book.
Marvel Editorial was complicit in the disrespect of the loyalty of the Rider Nova fans; suddenly declaring Rider “dead” (though the same treatment didn’t apply to Thanos, Drax, and Star-Lord since they were going to be in a movie soon) and therefore in need of a “replacement” even though Volume IV writers, DnA, had clearly stated in several interviews that Rider was merely temporarily “marooned” in the Cancerverse. In an insincere attempt to assuage outraged Rider fans, Marvel EIC, Axel Alonso, said he expected the Rider Nova fans to “embrace” NINO and then faux-canonized Rider’s now ret-conned “death” as something too special to undo. Yeah – right. Somehow Rider’s “death” was too special but Thanos’, Star-Lord’s, and Drax’s same story/same cause/same event/same “death” wasn’t quite so special? Hey Alonso – disingenuous much?
I coined the protest term, NINO (Nova In Name Only), to set Loeb’s version apart from all other versions of true Rider Nova comic books. We’ve now been afflicted with 16 cliché-filled issues of NINO sullying the concepts – all of them ranging from bottom-of-the-barrel to mediocre in quality. Despite tons of marketing hype (that Volume IV never received) and numerous variant covers (featuring Deadpool of course), publicly available sales figures have ranged from nearly equivalent to less than Rider’s Volume IV sales – so Marvel Editorial, where’s the beef? Where’s the proof that NINO is a better concept? You’ve got none. Despite your best efforts, NINO is a failure – critically and financially. And when fans point that out, they are immediately attacked by one or more Marvel Editors (you know who I’m talking about).
So now Bendis is poised to tell us Rider’s fate. Given his driving of GotGINO into the ground, I’ve previously described looking forward to his take about as much as I’d look forward to root canal surgery. Many theories have been floated as to which comic book cliché Bendis will choose to explain Rider’s death. Some believe Bendis will just flat out kill Rider as a means to solidify NINO in place as the goofy teen Lone Ranger “idiot” (Loeb’s own description of his own character) that Marvel Editorial seems to desperately want to sell. Another theory is that Star-Lord was forced to kill Rich to escape the Cancerverse. Others have posited that Bendis will give Rich the Parallax treatment and turn him into a Shuma-Gorath-possessed villain before killing him as a means to formally hand the torch to NINO. Another theory is that Thanos absorbed Rich’s powers and if Rich returns at all he’ll be de-powered. Still others think that Jesse Alexander and/or Sam Alexander are time/alternate-universe-displaced versions of Rich. There are probably many more clichés I’ve failed to mention. But so far, few believe that Rich will be brought back into the 616 to take his rightful place as the mature, powerful, Nova-Prime as that would be too much of a threat to the NINO that Marvel desperately wants to sell; even though NINO has been soundly rejected by most of Rider Nova fandom.
What I find most disturbing is the passive complacency many fans exhibit – acting as if there is nothing that can be done to affect the outcome of this process. Might I remind you that Joe Quesada encouraged us to vote with our dollars? It’s very simple. If you want Rich back, stop buying NINO and send an email to Marvel telling them why you’re not buying NINO and why you want Rich back in his rightful place as Nova Prime. Encourage all your friends to do the same.
As far as I’m concerned, the only acceptable outcomes for GotGINO #18’s story of what happened to Rich Rider is for Rider to be returned to the 616 as Nova Prime intent on re-building Xandar and The Nova Corps or for Rider to be left alive marooned in the Cancerverse as a freedom-fighter for a better writing/editorial team in the future to bring back to the 616 once NINO inevitably and deservedly completely fails and is cancelled.
Let’s get organized and begin a showdown with Marvel Editorial. Let’s make a pledge to kill NINO if Marvel kills, de-powers, or uses one of the other clichés mentioned above to marginalize Rich Rider.
What do I mean by “kill NINO?” NINO is teetering on the edge of cancellation already – and NeWINO (New Warriors In Name Only) featuring NINO as the headliner character premiered to cancellation threshold sales. It would just take a small push to end NINO and NeWINO.
If all the true Rider Nova fans still buying NINO and NeWINO in vain hope of Rider’s return to Volume IV-era glory are once again disappointed and disrespected by Bendis’/Marvel Editorial’s upcoming explanation of Rider’s fate, and they would simply join the rest of us in boycotting NINO and NeWINO, then NINO and NeWINO would be pushed into cancellation and Marvel would reap just punishment for disrespecting us and our favorite character. With the most recent issues of NINO and NeWINO only selling 22K and 23K, respectively, a few thousand less buyers and both are done.
It’s a very simple message to Marvel Editorial: You allow Bendis to kill or otherwise marginalize Rich Rider, and we kill NINO and every other book in which NINO appears. We also boycott all NINO merchandise and boycott the Ultimate Spiderman cartoon and the rumored upcoming GotG cartoon if it features NINO. Better no Nova than NINO.
Hey – we’re just doing what Joe Quesada said and voting with our dollars. We have the numbers to deal the death strike to NINO and GotGINO if Marvel once again disappoints us. I say we use our power to maximum advantage.
Nix NINO! Long live Rich Rider!