Boooo, the cover image is small, but it’s the best I could do this time. Richard Rider’s always been a pretty fun cosmic character so when I saw his classic comic on the shelf, I knew that I had to snag it. Another incentive was the debut of Megaman in the Marvel comics. I’m happy to say that the comic ended up being a blast and I never would have suspected that Nova turned out this way. There’s always time to learn something new after all!
Turns out that Nova used to be a normal kid who attended school and had rivals/friends just like Peter Parker. You can draw a lot of parallels between the two characters and it’s cool because I always assumed that Nova had started out as an adult. It’s always interesting because some characters like him and Spider-Man are currently adults while the guys who were already adults like Iron Man and Ant Man haven’t aged nearly as rapidly. It’s just how these things go I suppose. Nova has to quickly wrap his head around his new powers since evil never rests. The origin is similar to Green Lantern’s as the original Nova is destroyed while following a criminal and quickly transfers his powers to Richard.
Richard avenges him and decides to be a superhero, but he still has to deal with his real life dramas. There’s a bully who likes to pick on him and Richard’s “friends” don’t really do a whole lot to stop him. It’s probably the friendliest bully that I’ve ever seen though because everyone still talks and hangs out with each other even though the guy’s a bully. It’s all very intriguing to say the least. The main heroine is Ginger, but she hasn’t done a whole lot yet. There’s a slight chance that she figured out Richard’s true identity, but I we certainly won’t know for sure for quite some time.
Richard does have two friends though. A little kid who ends up getting kidnapped by Megaman and is one of the weaker supporting characters, and the kid’s pal. The pal is the trickster of the group and I have to admit that he gets a lot of really good lines throughout the comics. One of them was something along the lines of (When talking about the bully to Richard) “Don’t let him bother you Rich. Just remember that if you take away his smarts and his strength, then you get us…whoops!” He’s constantly insulting himself and Richard through his comebacks which makes for a very interesting style of humor. I can’t say that I’ve seen it done before or maybe I simply haven’t seen it done this effectively before. Either way, it’s definitely a blast.
Other supporting characters include Nova’s family. His brother’s a self proclaimed genius who can’t get any of his inventions to work, but he likes to remind Nova that he’s the smart one of the family. He’s always acing his tests. Nova’s Dad is usually busy with work drama so he’s always rather upset. Nova tries to keep him in check, but since he’s failing his classes, it’s been very difficult so far. The Mom is reasonable, but she only helps Nova in secret so as not to make the Dad more irritable than he already is. It’s tough being Nova, but Richard knows that he can take it.
He’s already amassed a bit of a villain’s gallery as well. Condor is the brains of the villain group, but he’s not as tough as you can think. He’s essentially the Vulture with Forge’s energy gun and 10% of Iron Man’s intellect. He puts up a good fight, but that’s mainly because Nova still isn’t very experienced. Once he gets his powers under control, he should be able to beat this guy with ease. Powerhouse is easily the worst villain of the trio. He’s constantly whining about how everyone is using him, but he’s the one who’s standing there and taking it. Now, blaming the victim is one thing, but I can’t even call this guy a victim since he’s clearly stronger than Condor. Yet, Condor slaps him about 40-50 times and it happens so often that it’s practically a comedy subplot by the end. The various heroes and villains keep commenting about it, but Powerhouse always ends up choosing the dark side over the light. Well, he made his choice and he’ll likely keep getting slapped around.
Diamondhead is the only true threat of the three and he’s impressively tough. His whole body is made of diamond so his physical strength is very impressive. Nova essentially broke his hand just by punching the guy. Even once Nova is more experienced, this guy was able to give him a good fight and he’s easily my favorite villain of the group. One thing that the three villains had in common was that they were all deathly afraid of another villain, the mighty Sphinx. It was cool to see the villains wage war against the super being and he easily bested all of the characters. If only Nova’s Power Cosmic had been a little stronger during his early years. It was a great ongoing plot though and it’s a shame that it ended so abruptly. As it stands, Sphinx was very overpowered compared to the rest of the characters, but it was always a blast to see him. He also wasn’t afraid to show his fear once in a while as his underling always tried to make him look at the future. (The villain is a mirror who shows you things that you don’t want to know) The other underling was a traitor who tried to destroy Sphinx so the villain placed him in a painful illusion.
What separates Sphinx from the average villain is that he inflated the body count right away. He punched Diamond Head so hard that he was partially merged into a Pyramid and supposedly he is effectively dead. Condor was turned into an actual bird so he’ll never mess with anyone again. Sphinx wasn’t playing games and he was definitely cool. The final notable villain was Megaman. For obvious reasons, I was very hyped to see him appear. Unfortunately, the guy is fairly petty and just wants revenge because his nephew ran off and left him to die. It was a salty moment, but a better man would have just kept on going. He doesn’t get to really have an ending in his fight because a futuristic being takes him away, but it was cool to see Marvel’s take on the iconic character. Nowadays, this kind of move would definitely generate a lot of headlines.
There were also two storylines for guest stars. The first had Thor appear to help Nova. Naturally, what’s a team up without a quick fight right? Thor was being mind controlled by a villain (I call plot hax here. At least it didn’t work on him a second time) and had a brief scuffle with Nova. Nova wasn’t doing too well, but at least he slowed Thor a little. The two of them fought a demon and then called it a day. The villain wasn’t great, but just seeing Thor and Nova go at it made the comic worthwhile.
The other team up was with Spider Man and that was cool. It was a classic mystery case as Nova’s uncle was murdered and one of the people in the room must have been the culprit. The suspects included an A.I.M. agent, a member of the Mafia, a corrupt business man, the Butler, A co-worker who believes that he was cheated out of fame, The Detective, and one more. Ironically, I think I may be missing the actual culprit in this description. Peter Parker is a suspect as well, but readers will know that it wasn’t him. It was a good feat for Spider Man though since he was able to endure a punch from an enraged Nova. Spider Man’s been in the game for a while so he held his own and I was glad that Nova listened to reason although I wouldn’t have minded an extended fight. Those are always a blast.
As always, Marvel’s retro art is really good here. It really helps reinforce the atmosphere that they were going with here. You’d think that this was a 60’s comic from how the characters talk and act. It can be hard to properly make a comic feel old without it also feeling old in a negative way, but the comic pulled it off quite well. The character designs are all on point and you’ll definitely be eager to keep on reading. I essentially read most of the comic in a single blast and it does have that Spider-Man feel where it’s all very interesting. I can never get enough of the retro adventures although they aren’t all equal. (For example, retro Fantastic Four comics were usually not quite as interesting) If I had to make a tier list, I’d put Spider-Man, Nova, Blue Beetle, Superman, Batman, Daredevil, Green Lantern, and Iron Man comics at S rank. A rank would be titles like Thor and Avengers. (Mainly due to the drought once the main members left) B would be some random titles, but it’s hard to think of them. C rank would probably be Fantastic Four, Captain America, Hulk, and most of the others that are remaining. They’re all essentially good comics, but some are just more fun than others.
Overall, I highly recommend reading the Nova comics. If you liked the old Spider-Man comics, then you are certainly going to like these. For the most part, Nova’s a very good character. He has one passing line that’s pretty wince worthy, but by and large he’s a noble hero who does his best even if it takes the kid a long time to really use his powers. He can take a hit and that’s the important thing. He even gets a lot of hype against Sphinx as he keeps on getting up after each blow. I hope that my library gets Nova Classic Volume 2 someday so I can wrap up the saga. Who knows, maybe Megaman will return since the series is running low on villains. Watching his ascent into one of Marvel’s toughest characters will definitely be intense!