Somewhere Marv Wolfman is wailing in agony at the hack-job being perpetrated against his original concepts by the travesty that is NINO. Somewhere DnA are gagging in disgust at the bastardization and dumbing down of their concepts.
It’s hard to know where to start with this train wreck as there’s just so much wrong with it that it boggles the mind. Let’s just go through it sequentially beginning with the primary cover art.
I have an issue with #10's cover portraying NINO in a stance of triumph with his foot disrespectfully on the helmet of Rich Rider, a for all intents and purposes “deceased” (via editorial fiat) Corpsman. Since all NINO does is blunder and cheat his way through every situation, at best he should be standing humbly behind ALL of his BETTERS with his head bowed in respect. This cover sums up one of the big problems with NINO, its writers/creator, and especially its so-called "editor." That is, the lack of respect for the BETTER Nova mythos that preceded it. The variant cover art is just as bad with Rich Rider being given second class treatment when he appears at all.
Also, the #100 sales gimmick is totally disingenuous. I count 90 issues of true Nova comic books and 10 issues of Nova In Name Only books. I’m offended that Marvel Editorial would attempt to conflate the two as Nova Volumes I-IV and Annihilation: Nova belong next to the cosmic classics on the shelves of local comic shops, and NINO deserves to be sandwiched between Archie and Scrooge McDuck in the kiddie section.
This issue of NINO is divided into three separate and truly awful stories. The first story finishes Wells’ boring, unimaginative, hackneyed arc. Watchers of the Ultimate Spiderman cartoon will recognize the characterization. NINO is portrayed as particularly arrogant, ignorant, impulsive, and annoying. In other words, he’s portrayed as the true “idiot” Loeb intended when he misguidedly created this obnoxious character and concept. NINO spends a great deal of this story ignorantly denigrating Rich Rider, The New Warriors, and Rich’s comrades in arms during the Annihilation Campaign while, of course, fawning over The Avengers. Robbie Baldwin and Vance Astrovik cameo and are portrayed as immature idiots. Infuriatingly, Rich’s role in The Infinity Gauntlet is denigrated and he’s mis-portrayed as an un-needed second-stringer when in fact he was the only New Warrior chosen to be in the first wave of the strike force against Thanos - and did in fact attack Thanos after Thanos mopped the floor with the vaunted Avengers. Of course, this sorry excuse for a story ends with a smarmy single mom and son scene so nauseatingly corny that I nearly drained a bottle of Pepto-Bismol for relief.
Pepto-Bismol is no match for the second story. To tolerate it, I had to break out my finest and most potent Absinthe. Duggan’s first NINO story carries on the sad tradition of NINO idiocy patented by Loeb and carried on by Wells. NINO is once again inexplicably involved in kill-or-be-killed combat light years from Earth – but he uses silly video-game terminology to describe and make light of his actions throughout the fight. Meanwhile, his mother proves once and for all that she’s a totally unfit parent as she meets with NINO’s Principal and covers for NINO’s school truancy so he can continue to skip school and participate in kill-or-be-killed combat. So Marvel Editorial and Disney – are you trying to send a message to the kiddies that playing video games is more important than attending school? Tell me, if they don’t attend school, how are they going to learn how to read? Won’t illiteracy negatively impact your bottom line? That plus glorifying child combatants places your NINO stories in direct conflict with Western Civilization’s values and morals. How do you justify such reprehensible positions? Maybe the CCA needs to be revived to look over your shoulders as you’re not doing such a good job of policing yourselves – especially for a book aimed not at the adult audience that can afford to buy comic books, but at the kiddies relying on the adults to fork over money to buy comic books. Maybe you need to re-examine the demographic you want to reach and then do the smart thing and ditch NINO.
Moving on; the second story begs many questions such as why a “Black Nova” is engaging in police actions usually reserved for “Gold Novas;” who exactly is processing distress calls since the Worldmind is inactive and presumably destroyed, and why does the little idiot go blind at the end of the story when Novas are supposed to have a healing factor? I can only hope that the blindness is followed by muteness, deafness, and permanent paralysis from the neck down so we can be rid of the little idiot once and for all. I know it’s a vain hope, but I can indulge a dream of a better world without NINO can’t I? I think this sorry excuse for a story telegraphs to us what Duggan’s run as writer is going to be like. In short – more clichés, more dumbing down, more puerile silliness, and continued total disrespect of Nova continuity and established concepts.
Saving the worst for last, Duggan gives us a glimpse of issue #1000 of NINO featuring an adult NINO presiding over his child’s birthday party. This was truly a disgusting waste of time and paper complete with “art” comparable to that typically found hanging on the refrigerators of parents with pre-school aged children.
Speaking of art, Barberi and Lopez’s art for the first story was barely acceptable, and Medina’s art for the second story was only slightly better. Medina’s rendering of NINO’s mother in one panel made her so scarily bug-eyed that I had to do a double-take to make sure she wasn’t morphing into some sort of monster. So even the art – once the only saving grace of this waste of time book – is slipping. Curiel’s colors are nicely done but aren’t enough to save the day.
Of course, the capstone of the train wreck is insufferable “editor” Stephen Wacker’s letters page. I rolled my eyes when he disingenuously dedicated this issue to the very fans he so often derides and denigrates in the forum of an un-named but Craven Bootlickingly Repugnant website well known for allowing him to verbally abuse fans but protecting him from the ire of the very fans he has insulted. Of course, he picks nothing but letters dripping with fawning praise from readers who admit they never read a Nova series before and thus have no basis of comparison. If they had such a basis, maybe they wouldn’t be so complimentary. At least the Indie Comic Books have the courage to print dissenting letters in their letters pages.
There was one nice touch – and that was a thumbnail reprinting of all previous Nova series covers from Volume I through Volume IV. Too bad even that was sullied by the inclusion of NINO covers 1-10.
Marvel Editorial is always quick to dismiss any discontent with NINO as the disgruntled ramblings of a minority of difficult to please fanboys. Of course, Marvel Editorial is so obsessed with selling formulaic super-heroic fantasy that they truly can’t seem to see how they’ve taken away everything that was good with cosmic and replaced it with street level comic book clichés. It’s analogous to some insightless executive replacing Star Trek with Lost in Space and then wondering why fans are upset. And I’m sure some Craven Bootlickingly Repugnant and cosmically Ignorant Gonad-less Ninny websites will fall all over themselves praising the waste of time, money, and paper that is NINO #10 – but those websites have never been able to appreciate well told cosmic tales so their praise should be taken lightly and in that context. Like Marvel Editorial, those websites are also obsessed with hackneyed “super-heroic fantasy” and can’t appreciate the refreshing difference of super-heroic military science-fiction and science-fantasy that made Marvel Cosmic so special prior to its hijacking and dumbing-down to mundane street-level super-heroic fantasy at the hands of Loeb and Bendis. We appreciators of true cosmic stories remember how the true Nova – OUR Nova, Rich Rider, was out saving the universe while the vaunted Avengers pettily quarreled amongst themselves in their ridiculous Civil War. We remember how OUR true Nova, Rich Rider, saved the universe from Thanos and E-Vell; while the vaunted Avengers have made a mess of things in the disappointing Infinity event – an Avengers vehicle thinly disguised as a cosmic story. And finally, we appreciators of true cosmic stories know that Loeb’s NINO and Bendis’ Garbage of the Galaxy are critical failures and betrayals of the very fans who allowed through their loyal support pre-Loeb/Bendis Marvel Cosmic to evolve into something special and unique among comic books.