Thursday, 11 April 2013

Marvel Now! Nova #1 & #2

This time I decided to do a double whammy and review the first two issues of the (relatively)  new Marvel Now! series... NOVA

I have never read a Nova comic before.  The only time I had ever had any dealings with this character was in the Ultimate Spider-Man cartoon series,  a series I REALLY did not like at all so it was certainly not the best introduction to Nova that I could have had.  Still when I saw that a new Nova series would be part of the Marvel Now! line I decided it was about time I gave this series a go.

The comic starts...IN SPAAAACE!!!! where we see Jesse Alexander (the future father of the books soon to be introduced main hero) working as part of the Nova Corps alongside fellow members Titus and Mr Z'zz.  The have been sent on a rescue mission to save two very important (and well known characters) who are very quickly revealed to be none other then two of the Guardians of the Galaxy, the dangerous green beauty Gamora and the awesomely excellent Rocket Raccoon.

Soon the five are fighting their way to safety until Titus suddenly orders Jesse to return to earth.  It seems that he has broken one of the rules of the Nova Corps and has managed to get himself married.  Not only that but he has a kid on the way.  This means he now has something to live for and shouldn't really be risking his life so recklessly.   So, promising to send back help, Jesse leaves.

This is a great introduction to the Nova Corps as it really shows how badass they are even if it...

Turns out this was all a story Jesse was telling his son Sam Alexander.

Sam is pretty much a typical teenager, at least for comics.  He finds himself having to juggle with his school life where he is being bullied, much like Peter Parker was many many years before him, while also having to take care of his father who has an alcohol problem.  This usually means doing his fathers job for him, which is being the janitor of the school Sam goes to, while also hiding the fact that his dad his currently sleeping in a drunken stupor from his mother and young sister.

While all this is happening he has to listen to his father talk about the glory days of when he saved entire galaxies as part of the Nova Corps.  Of course Sam doesn't believe him and thinks that they are just the rantings of a drunk and even seems somewhat resentful of his father.

But this all changes one night when his father simply disappears.  Sam immediately thinks he has ran off to some bar somewhere to get drunk and resolves to find him.  But he is so angry that he doesn't look where he is going while on his skateboarding causing him to have a nasty fall.

Waking up in hospital he is told by his mother that his father still hasn't come home.  Even later that night he is visited by two of Jesse's old friends,  none other than Gamora and Rocket Raccoon who say that they have to talk about his dad.  

Thus ends issue one of Nova

So now...

 When we last left Sam Alexander he had just woke up in bed to see two of the characters from his dads stories are not only very much real...but they are standing over him and want to talk to him about his dad.  Of course this is a bit much for young Sam to handle and in the ensuing chaos he accidentally calls Rocket a talking Raccoon which quite upsets the ill tempered Guardian quite a bit, for hilarious consequences.

Racing out into the hall for help he immediately bumps into a nurse, but when they get back to Sam's room it is empty, prompting the nurse to suggest it was all a dream and Sam at first insisting it was real but then accepting the fact she is probably right.  However he is soon shocked to discover that a  helmet his father owned, apparently from when he worked as one of the Nova, has somehow ended up under his bed.  But he puts it down to simply a prank by own of the kids at his school.

 In an attempt to get rid of it, claiming that it is all a joke just like his father, Sam ends up activating the helmet which releases a column of light.  Curious as to what will happen Sam cautiously puts it on and is shocked to find himself covered in the armor of the Nova Corps.

This also triggers a very well written and heartfelt message left be Jesse for his son in which he admits that he should have been a better father and been there more for his family and that he really loved his son.  I thought this was a good little moment between father and son, even if one of them was just a recording, because it showed that even if Jesse had longed to return to the glory days of being an intergalactic hero, this being no doubt what drove him to drink, he still deeply loved his family and had realized that he had failed them as a father and a husband due to his living in the past instead of seeing what he had right in front of him.  It also gives Sam a brief glimpse at the man his father truly was and not the alcoholic washed-up janitor he knew.

He is then very shocked to discover that he just happens to be flying and hadn't noticed up to that point.

Hiding his new found powers from his mother Sam decides to take his new suit out for a test.  He quickly determines that it responds to his thoughts.  Pushing himself to go faster and faster he notes that his father had been right all along and that the suit made him like a "Human Rocket"

Unfortunately Sam isn't able to work out how to stop himself and he ends up flying off into space and landing on the moon, where he is met by none other than Uatu, The Watcher. His only response is to meekly say "help."

So what is next for Sam Alexander....?

The story in the first issue, as written by comic scribe Jeph Loeb, was pretty good if not a bit cliche and formulaic.  We have all read about the teenager who is bullied in high school only to suddenly find themselves with power and part of something greater.  I am of course talking about Spider-Man, which I have already mentioned earlier (and in some ways the Jaime Reyes version of Blue Beetle over at DC).  But this isn't a bad thing in this case.  It does a good job of introducing us to Sam and getting to see the kind of kid he is.  He has a good heart but having to look after his drunken father is making him quite miserable.  He has had to grow up listening to his dad talk about how much of a hero he used to be, but the only dad he has ever known is the heavy drinking janitor and you can easily see why Sam has a hard time believing him.  At least until he gets a visit from two of the Guardians which leads him to discovering that the tales his father told him were not ficitonal at all.

The second issue had some decent character development when it comes to Jesse and Sam's relationship but not as much for the others as issue one did, but that was because it dealt more with Sam getting used to his new powers rather then introducing characters to the reader.  Sam learning how to use his new found abilities is very believable and again reminds me of the way Peter Parker or Jaime Reyes had to teach themselves to use theirs (tho Jaime did have some help from the Scarab that gave him his abilities).

In all Loeb's story was very well told and, whilst not very groundbreaking or original, nicely setup Sam's introduction to the Nova Corps.  After what I consider a poor run on Hulk (I just don't like the Red Hulk) I really think Loeb has hit his stride with Nova and is fast crafting a character that is fun and engaging to read.

Of course the story is helped beautifully by...

The amazing art of Ed McGuiness, with inking done ably by Dexter Vines and colors provided by Marte Gracia,  is honestly the kind of comic book art I really like.  It has crisp, clear lines and is bright, vibrant and colorful without being overly cartoony.  This means that the images really pop off the page, especially when we see Jesse as one of the Nova Corps and fighting villains in space alongside Titus, Mr Z'zz, Gamora and Rocket.  McGuiness is also a master when it comes to drawing faces, with each one being unique and full of expression.  Too often I have seen comics where characters all look the same and at best have two expressions (I am looking at you Rob Liefeld)

To sum this up

Nova #1: 

An excellent introduction to Sam Alexander and to the new Nova comic with a good story and excellent artwork.

4.5 Howling Wolves

Do Not Miss.

Nova #2:

While not as good as issue one when it comes to developing characters due to it being an even more simple tale of Sam trying to teach himself to use his new power it is still a good story and once again the art by McGuinnes, Vines and Gracia really shines through and brings the comic roaring to life

 4 Howling Wolves

Damn Good Read.

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