Who knew that when they originally re-launched the book “Nova” that I would be way more interested in the story than any of the Avengers books? The book launched with everything that I hate: cheap knock-off Spider-Man banter, convoluted lineage to the original Nova, and art by Ed McGuinness and written by Jeph Loeb—harsh but when those two pair up we get things like Red Hulk so I feel justified. However, what seemed like a book manufactured to lure a TV audience somehow became this really interesting and entertaining “Hero is born” story line that’s incredibly compelling.
How long has it been since comic book fans have been treated to a new hero learning the ropes of saving the world? That’s a great formula for fantastic stories. Of course this was only allowed to happen after they swapped out for Zeb Wells as scribe and Paco Medina as penciler—Gosh those two guys are great, just swell guys. Like, not only did the book look pretty but Sam Alexander got flushed out as more than just a Spider-Man clone. Also? Call me a perv but Nova’s mom is hot. Don’t look at me like that, his dad is dead—Dead? “Dead”? Uncle Ben Dead? Either way she is beautiful and lonely. But enough about hot moms, this is GUARD not “Penthouse”—everything improved so vastly with the new creative team I felt like I’d woken up in my normal house but my brother was now a successful business man, my sister a very successful hussy, my dad the creepy thin man, and Alexander’s mom is hot—No! Bad Patrick!
Anyway, this issue picks up in the middle of, “We’re getting the band back together,” featuring “Generic Superhero #2284” Vance Astrovik, aka Justice and “Sorry about being such a downer and cutting myself all the time” Robbie Baldwin, aka Speedball—that’s right, New Warriors superhero team up time. Their team dynamic is set up so well in this book—they’re not even a team yet and I want to see them go on adventures. Justice is the natural leader who has the experience but not quite the authority. Speedball is back to being the lovable joker and glue that holds the team together. And Nova gets to be that game changer who could win them every battle if he just got control of his abilities. Doesn’t that sound like a team book you’d read? It’s perfect: young heroes learning their place in the world and on the team; smaller scale adventures and villains that you can ramp up; and a jovial atmosphere that is irresistible to readers. Now compare that to the current run on “Avengers” where they start day one in space against impossible odds with a gargantuan team that makes no effort to establish a dynamic. I would buy the Hell out of a New Warriors book—even if their villain was Stilt Man. Lucky for me, “Nova” has all of that and they even fight a cool villain.
*SPOILERS* Yeah, Kaldera is a brand new villain who we all have to pretend is badass but she gets a pretty good introduction. First off, she’s the standard “Honor Bound Warrior” trope so of course she asks for a one on one fight with Nova—and no powers. So for the first few panels she just wails on Sam Alexander, all while his hot mom watches—Patrick! Focus! Then he brings up bullying, an ongoing issue within the series, and how he doesn’t care about being fair to a psychotic monster. Then PUTS. HER. DOWN. Like a proper badass. And here’s a little caveat for the fight, he doesn’t kill her, he returns her to her master. But her master sees this as a failure and doesn’t kill her, instead locks her in a torture capsule for a decade of punishment. Uh, did somebody say “Recurring Villain”? It’s almost as if Zeb Wells is trying to build an intricate tapestry of backstory that fans can get excited to see reemerge within the book—what a ridiculous premise.
You know what’s funny? This is almost the same exact way “Invincible” started off. Sure, Nova has a little bit of continuity to deal with but other than that Sam and Mark started off in pretty similar places. Mark has to deal with the legacy of his father, trouble in school from his continued life of crime fighting, and discovering who exactly Invincible is supposed to be. Sam has to deal with the legacy of his father, trouble in school from his continued life of crime fighting, and discovering who exactly Nova is supposed to be. They even both have interludes with a local teen crime fighting team. This isn’t plagiarism because both characters may have the same issues they are dealing with but they have drastically different attitudes towards their own lives. This is just using a tried and true formula to write compelling characters and allow them to grow within the confines of their story. Really I should be giving “Nova” a 100% because they are so similar, but let’s give “Nova” some room to grow… but it Sam’s mom gets some extra points—sorry, last time.