Review: Nova #28 (Marvel Comics)
Writers: Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning
Artist: Andrew Devito
Colorist: Bruno Hang
Cover Artist: Daniel Acuna
Variant Cover: Mike Perkins
Warning: Contains Spoilers
DnA have done it again! Nova #28 is a masterstroke of superheroic military science-fiction. The Rich Rider from Annihilation is finally back and I say: “Long May He Reign!”
This issue picks up right where #27 left off. Rich gives Xenith a beating and captures her. The new Corpsmen step up to the plate as well; with Morrow and Irani putting the Imperial Guard in their place quite efficiently. Rich negotiates for the withdrawal of the Corps from Kree-Lar with Blastaar in a quite clever sequence; and the Corpsmen gather up their prisoners – along with the wounded Robbie Rider – and return to Nu-Xandar. Back at Nu-Xandar we learn that the Corps has been disbanded down to a small group including four of the original five new recruits (Morrow, Fraktur, Qubit, Irani) as well as the humans, Tre and Lindy. Wendell Vaughn is also present; but quickly takes his leave to learn more about both his new body and the mysterious fault in time and space caused by the explosion of the Inhumans’ echo weapon at the conclusion of War of Kings. Rich admits he was both right and wrong about reconstituting the Corps; deciding in the end to allow the remaining Corpsmen the opportunity to be the “core” of a new Corps which is to be rebuilt slowly over time. Robbie is invited to be part of the new Corps. It is learned that, unsurprisingly, Ego is recovering faster than expected; so the Corps will need to find a new home in the near future. In the meantime, they stargate to the fault to see what, if anything, can be done. Upon arrival, they are surprised to receive a Xandarian distress signal. Upon further investigation, they are shocked to discover a ship that Rich Rider thought he would never see again.
There’s so much to love about this issue, I don’t know where to start. So, I’ll begin at the beginning. I heartily enjoyed the opening sequence. As anyone who has read any of my columns before knows, I am no fan of Strontians. So, as you might imagine, I savored every panel of the opening fight where Rich opens up a can of whoop-ass on Xenith and gives the beeyotch the well deserved beating she’s been asking for throughout the course of War of Kings. My only disappointment is that he didn’t kill her. I think he may end up regretting that decision. I know I regret his decision. I want her and her cousin, Gladiator, dirt-napped ASAP. Nevertheless, his guile in defeating her is much appreciated; showing that Rich has finally graduated from the “brass-knuckled hot-headed street fighter unthinkingly flying in and slugging it out” mentality that has plagued the Nova character for far too long now; to the mentality of the seasoned, strategizing, battle-hardened veteran that he is and should continue to be from now on. No more characterization inconsistency please! Finally, I was also touched by the homage to Doug Smith’s Novaprimepage in this sequence where Rich refers to consulting the Novapedia. That’s a nice shout out from DnA to Doug and to the legions of other loyal uber-Nova-fans worldwide who have kept the Nova flame burning through thick and thin for the past 33 years; and we all appreciated it.
The Morrow and Irani scene was extremely well done; and I want to thank DnA for finally portraying the Corps as the competent and effective soldiers that they should be; rather than the “red shirts” portrayal of the Corps that has permeated Corps portrayals in recent era comics. Not since the Second Xandar-Skrull War (as seen in Fantastic Four #’s 204-214; and Rom #24) has the Corps been portrayed as the competent fighting force that made Xandar a power to be reckoned with during their days of Empire (as seen in Uncanny Origins #4). Issue #28 of Nova restored my hope that the Corps can regain their former glory.
For the next sequence, I need to stop, take a deep breath, and consider something for a moment. Rich Rider as diplomat. Wow! Who’d have ever expected that?! Home run DnA! The sequence where Rich, like Teddy Roosevelt, “speaks softly and carries a big stick” is flat out brilliant. Once again, it bespeaks that level of maturity and competence that Rich gained during Annihilation; but has inexplicably shown rarely and inconsistently throughout the first 28 issues of Nova. Rich’s calm confidence both in battle and at the diplomatic table in this issue of Nova is the proper demeanor for a leader of men; and is a welcome change from the tiresome adolescent cocky bravado of past characterizations.
The sequence on Nu-Xandar is quite well done. I was cheered by Rich’s decision to re-constitute the Corps. It’s about d’ast time. A recurring cast of interesting and exciting characters is exactly what this series needs; and this first batch of Corps recruits is just the ticket. Some of these characters (who are already building fan bases BTW) will no doubt be tragically lost as the Corps is rebuilt; bringing the series some much needed edgy drama. Speaking of edgy drama, I’m guessing there will once again be some conflict between Rich and Robbie now that Robbie will be sticking around as a Corpsman; as the sibling rivalry thing between Rich and Robbie will require further exploration. Further, I was pleased to learn that the Corps will soon need to abandon Ego for a more suitable home base. I want to lobby for something beginning here and now. Tranta is the traditional home base for Xandar and we know the Orienta Shard survived the Annihilation War. If you’re listening DnA, send the new Corps back to Tranta and make the Orienta Shard the permanent base for the new Nova Corps.
The final scene where the Nova Prime starship was discovered was totally unexpected. I have always admired the trippy design of that ship and was overjoyed to see its return. Is it just shading or did the ship look battle damaged? Is it the same ship we originally saw in The Man Called Nova #1 long assumed to have been destroyed by Nebula during the Second Fall of Xandar? Is it the M2 Universe Nova dropping in for a visit? Will Monark Starstalker be found aboard the ship? I guess we have to wait another month to find out. Whatever the mystery of the ship turns out to be, I want to lobby for something else now. Please DnA, keep the ship around! The Corps needs a flagship and I can’t think of a better one than Rhomann Dey’s starship. I hope the onboard PRIME computer is up and running as I enjoyed Rich’s interaction with it during the original run of the series.
Finally, there were a bunch of nuances I liked. First, the “Prime” nickname for Rich. I like that. I hope it’s a keeper. Secondly – the further revelations about gravimetric powers in the sequences with Morrow and Robbie. Morrow’s bounce-back of the Uncreated’s projectiles is an application that we haven’t seen before; and Rich’s talk with Robbie supports long held fan theories about Nova Force being related to graviton manipulation. Thirdly, the set up for Quasar’s return to the spaceways. It was great to see Wendell Vaughn back on the job as Protector of the Universe. I can’t wait for his Realm of Kings one-shot. Hopefully, we will be seeing a lot more of Wendell in the future as it is rumored that he will be joining the cast of Guardians of the Galaxy. Finally, I liked the rescue of Raza Longknife and hope to see him rejoin the Starjammers soon.
There was one thing I didn’t like. Ravenous’ portrayal was inconsistent with his portrayal in Annihilation. In Annihilation, Ravenous went toe-to-toe with Firelord, Silver Surfer, and Ronan. He was portrayed as a tough, arrogantly confident being with Herald strength powers. However, for the past two issues of Nova, he’s been portrayed as weak and cowardly. I don’t get it. Does he have Herald strength or not? I know some fans have attributed his seeming lack of Herald strength powers to the conspicuous absence of his Currs, the apparent method he uses to channel Opposing Force. Whatever the reason, Ravenous was out of character for the past two issues and this change in characterization was not adequately explained in the storyline.
Turning now to art and colors, I can only say once again that Divito’s depictions are magnificent to behold. I hope he stays on this book for the rest of the book’s run because no one does Nova better than Divito. Ditto for Hang as colorist. Acuna delivered another solid cover portraying the Corp in a military ground assault. This cover and the cover to #27 are among my top favorites for the series thus far. I was lucky enough to score one of Perkins’ Variant Edition covers and I must say his depiction of Nova is quite impressive. If Divito ever has to take a break, I wouldn’t mind seeing what Perkins could do with the art for the book.
In the off chance that it’s not obvious by the tone of this review, I heartily recommend that you buy this issue of Nova and add the series to your pull list each month. I think if DnA continue to take the character in the direction of issue #28, this series will have a bright future. I really hope Marvel will start to market the military science-fiction fans as I think the storyline and the covers to this and last issue would really pique their interest and raise sales. Quite simply, Nova consistently raises the bar for superheroic military science-fiction. Thirty days is too long to wait for next month’s installment!