The Avengers and X-Men’s Epic Battle is over. Scott went insane. Charley took the dirt nap. Hope and Wanda made everything better. So Now what?
Well, NOW is the time for Marvel to shuffle the deck and play a new hand. It’s relaunch city as The House of Ideas brings us 20-something new #1s with all-new creative teams over the next 5 months. What will the new 23 have in store for us Marvel Zombies? Well, be sure to check out this column each week as we dissect the first issue of every new title under the Marvel Now Banner. And I don’t mean Bruce Banner…..well except when the title has the Hulk in it….you get what I mean. So sit back and relax as we check out what’s new in the 616.
If someone asked me for a word to describe Nova it would be “Revamp”. It seems that for the past 20 years there have been countless revamps and relaunches of the concept of Nova. Make him a kid again, make him like the Green Lantern Corp., make him less like the Green Lantern Corp., Make him Captain America’s bitch, and so one and so forth. Nova appears to be a character where creators and fans like the idea of Nova more than Nova himself. Hence why we are treated to a new Nova character or concept every couple of minutes. So what’s the angle this time around? Why not do a story about the Black-Ops Nova squad? That one actually intrigues me. This way there’s a chance that the creators won’t fall back on previous incarnations. But with a creative team that includes Jeph Loeb as it’s writer, that isn’t guaranteed. Loeb loves his reboots mixed with tribute. But with Ed McGuinness on art, I’m bound to be entertained. So once again, I entered the Marvel Now Thunderdome with mixed emotions. Emotions that I can now be sure have stayed mixed after reading this first issue.
Our story begins in outer space, the Planet Mooro to be exact, some seventeen years ago. A small team of Novas are on a rescue mission. But these aren’t your regular Novas. They wear Black Helmets to signify that they are covert mission types. Afters some daring rescuing of two Guardians of the Galaxy, the mission is a success. But it’s all just a story being told in the present from a father to his son. A father who’s a washed up, drunken janitor at a high school and his son, Sam, who’s covering for him by doing his job. The son is more than skeptical of his dad’s past. He doesn’t believe one word of what he’s saying. How could he? They live in a shit little town where the school bully picks on him for being the custodian’s son, a principle that rides him for having a screw up for a dad and nothing else really happens. His father has to be talking shit. But why the hell did he disappear and where the hell did he go? Sam’s off to find out when he takes a spill and ends up in the hospital…..where he gets a visit from folks he thought were all made up.
When it comes to number one issues, this one falls firmly in the “meh” category. It’s nothing special. We’ve seen a number of the story beats a hundred times before. A kid who’s stuck in a small town is disgruntled because he’s always been picked on and has an eccentric relative. Then one day, something happens that changes his life forever. It was a staple of 80’s high school films…..like Teen Wolf, written by Loeb himself. Then there’s the whole “your father was a superhero and all the stories that you thought were just stories actually happened” angle. Comic Books have done that one to death. What makes it passable here is that aside from a few corny lines, the storytelling is pretty sound. It flows well and you find yourself actually giving a crap about Sam and his predicament. We’re conditioned to root for the underdog and that’s exactly what Sam is. A good kid who’s been dealt a bad hand. His alcoholic father who can’t stop talking about the glory days is also very likable. That’s something you don’t get to see too often these days. An alcoholic who’s not automatically evil or comical. The characters shine in this piece. Unfortunately, the cliches get in the way as the focus is mostly about how the son cannot come to believe his father’s crazy stories. They live in the Marvel Universe for crissakes! The kid can turn on the news and see the Avengers or the Fantastic Four fighting off alien invasions and super villains. I know he doesn’t live in New York but there have been more than enough world threats in continuity for Sam to believe in the fantastical. I get not believing your Dad was a big hero but Sam doesn’t believe in any of it. If I saw anything on television about the Avengers in my lifetime, I think I could swallow an intergalactic brigade that fights for the good guys. And this is what each story beat leads back to: Sam’s disbelief in outer space adventures. That is what ultimately takes the reader out of the story. On a side note, I never thought I’d be so happy to see Rocket Racoon show up….and looking pretty awesome.
The illustrations in the book are fantastic. McGuinness is true to form with this issue. The alien’s don’t look too goofy, the high school looks believable and the storytelling is sound. I thought it was a nice touch to make the Principal at the school look exactly like Strickland from Back to the Future. And the work done on the Guardians was top drawer and has gotten me stoked for the first issue of their series. The art really kept me in this piece when the cliches almost took me out.
Overall, Nova #1 is not a bad issue. It’s just not a very good one either. There is potential there to tell a very compelling story as the characters are relatable and interesting. But Loeb needs to try something new with these characters because having them coast on tried and true story tropes is not enough to keep the reader’s attention. Maybe in a few issue’s time I will revisit this book. But for now, I would have to say pass on the series altogether.
So this 1st Issue is done but there’s plenty more to come. Check back here in the coming week’s to find out which books are worth your time which are a waste of it.
And if you’re gonna geek out, GEEK HARD!
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