There is very little right with this book, but one of the major things wrong with it is that it tries way too hard to be Spiderman – and always falls short. When NINO goes to the Principal’s office, you halfway expect J. Jonah Jameson to be behind the desk yelling, “Parrrrrkerrrrr!” That sort of thing was priceless back in Spidey’s original heyday. Now, it’s just hackneyed.
Giffen and later, DnA, rightly realized that the Spiderman riff never really worked for Rider Nova and instead created a complex, powerful, and interesting character in their reboot. Leave it to the creative bankruptcy of Loeb, Duggan, Brevoort, Alonso, and Bendis to run as fast as they can in the opposite direction of Giffen’s innovation and for their reboot shovel out the trite, puerile, nonsense that is NINO.
The hilarious thing is that despite Brevoort and Alonso shoe-horning NINO into everything they possibly can and trying to make NINO a headliner – NINO still scrapes the bottom of the sales list – coming in at the low end of the top 100 or outside of the top 100 altogether most months. Buyers are staying away in droves despite having NINO constantly shoved in their faces. That bespeaks a weak character and a weak concept – and issue #21 is just icing on the weak cake.
Loeb, by his own admission, created a weak character and concept. Loeb said he wanted NINO to be an “idiot.” He certainly succeeded. In this issue, NINO finally gets around to going after his dad. His unfit parent of a mother allows him to skip school to do it. Hey, Duggan – fine message to the kiddies about the importance of education.
Duggan slathers on more weak sauce when he expects us to believe an advanced civilization with advanced technology would be fooled by a Trojan Horse trick, and NINO could just fly into a high security area, beat up all the more powerful adults, and then fly away unscathed. As usual, I was rooting for the logical outcome of such a scenario – with the adults winning and killing the little idiot. Alas – I was disappointed yet again with NINO improbably just flying away, and Duggan setting up a storyline reminiscent of The Guns of Will Sonnett where Jesse will be off aimlessly wandering through the cosmos with NINO always just missing crossing paths with him.
Weak. Insipidly sentimental. Hackneyed. It’s Duggan’s, Brevoort’s, Alonso’s, Loeb’s way of keeping NINO the teen-idiot-Spider-man-ish-Lone-Ranger without any competition from the much more interesting adult, Jesse, and the vastly superior concept, Giffen’s rebooted Rider Nova. That is to say, if Jesse was brought back to active duty it would be the same as if Rich Rider was brought back – fan interest would shift to the more interesting adult character, and Loeb’s NINO would deservedly be reduced to the silly teen side-kick that he is and mercifully fade away. That’s why Duggan et al will never let the adults play a more active role in this book other than to be more stupid than NINO.
In terms of art/coloring – I suppose the best was done with the material given to work with – but NINO continues to look ridiculous wearing a military uniform. He looks like a kid playing dress up with his dad’s uniform. And let’s face it, he is. At one point he refers to himself as “The Last Nova.” Nah. Never. Jesse was derelict. The last true Nova was Rich Rider. Idiot Sam was never inducted into the Corps, is not empowered by a higher authority to enforce pan-galactic law, and has never been trained to be a Nova. How could Sam the idiot be anything but a “Nova in Name Only?”
So leave this sad degradation of the once great Marvel Cosmic concepts on the shelf of your local comic shop and join the fans of the true Nova, Rich Rider, in their boycott. A few thousand less buyers and NINO will be in the dustbin where he belongs.