“You’re referring to Richard Rider. And your behavior is an insult to his sacrifice.” -Gamora commenting on NINO’s behavior.
From Loeb’s pen to God’s ears – Gamora speaks the truth. NINO IS an insult to Richard Rider, the Nova mythos and legacy, and the body of fans of the true Nova, Richard Rider.
So NINO’s dad, Jesse, thinks it would be a good idea to send his 15-year-old non-military trained son into kill-or-be-killed battle with an organized Chitauri invasion fleet? I guess Jesse really did have a drinking problem. And Rocket and Gamora are complicit with this insanity by spending an afternoon training the obnoxious little twit? Then they send him off solo to face the invasion fleet? They must have drinking problems, too. And it’s clear that every life on Earth hinges on how the insufferable little git handles himself? I’ve got five words to describe this storyline: Dumb, Dumb, Dumb, Dumb, and Immoral.
A cardinal rule of good science-fiction is plausibility. How plausible is the above scenario? The correct answer is: “Not even remotely plausible.” In fact, it’s so implausible that its intelligence insultingly dumb. The little twerp has a couple of hours of training, no military experience, no real understanding of his powers, no knowledge of his enemies, and a stated aversion to killing. Really? He’s first pick for a covert-ops military team? He’s first pick to send out to scout the invasion fleet? Jeez – no wonder the Black Novas are all dead. With recruitment and training methods like that, they wouldn’t last five minutes against any aggressor.
And how moral is it to recruit a child to engage in combat operations? As this review is being written, the United Nations is getting ready to officially condemn recruitment of children to serve in the military. Sure – the Taliban regularly straps explosives to children and teens to use them as suicide bombers, and it’s not unusual to see teenagers among the ranks of Somalian pirates – but Xandar was never portrayed as a terrorist or pirate state. In fact, quite the opposite as Xandar was always portrayed as a civilized, moral, peace-keeping society. Xandar would have found it morally unacceptable to give a child powers of mass destruction and to place a child in kill-or-be-killed combat. Somebody at Disney is asleep at the wheel to have let this essential endorsement of children performing combat operations slip by without a peep of protest.
A few other things bothered me, too. In the past I’ve expressed my antipathy for NINO’s manga-inspired (see Kamen Riders) so-called “uniform.” The adults could barely pull off wearing the suckily re-designed “uniform,” but NINO looks totally ridiculous in it – literally like a child wearing his dad’s old military uniform – and not in a cute way. But putting that aside for a moment, I have to ask myself – why would a super-secret covert-ops military unit wear a uniform that so clearly associates them with Xandar? Wouldn’t they just wear some generic uniform with no identifying features to connect them to Xandar?
And another thing – why does Rocket keep pulling a gun on NINO? Apparently, NINO’s powers come from his “magic helmet” and when the helmet’s off and sitting on the shelf, NINO has no powers. Every time Rocket pulls his gun, it’s against a powerless NINO. This seems out of character for Rocket.
By far, the most enjoyable part of this book was the final scene of NINO being blasted by a Chitauri warship. It gave me a moment’s hope that we might not have to endure the ongoing degradation of the Nova mythos with another installment of NINO. But alas, he apparently survives as he’s portrayed as captured by the Chitauri in the solicit for the next issue.
In conclusion, no matter how many times Loeb and Bendis try to sell NINO and GotG as science-fiction, they just aren’t. Nova Volume IV and GotG Volume II were science-fiction. Loeb’s NINO and Bendis’ Garbage of the Galaxy are silly, child- oriented, earth-centric high fantasy riddled with super-hero clichés. It is truly a shame that McGuinness’ stellar art and Gracia’s magnificent coloring are wasted on such a pedestrian effort as NINO.