Today we're talking about a comic that started off the best possible way it could and then we'll see why the light was extinguished so quickly and the book cancelled after only 25 issues.
It's the character that Marvel Comics seems to not like at all anymore. He has legions of fans and we still can't get this guy back...I'm talking about Richard Rider, The Human Rocket: NOVA!
Richard Rider was a bit like Peter Parker, except he wasn't a science geek and had a girlfriend. But, he was still bullied and always struggled to do well in school. There was even a faint similarity to the Archie gang. He had an odd best friend named "Caps" and a redheaded girlfriend named Ginger. (Not a blonde or brunette) bullied by a guy that could've doubled as Reggie Mantle and they even went to a malt shop called "Uncle Fudge".
Rich got his powers from a dying alien that transferred his powers to him before he died. Rich soon found out that there was a whole "Nova Corps" and he now had the powers of a Nova Prime. (It worked for DC and Hal Jordan).
I really hate to give an issue by issue play, so I'll just say that this book had action, drama, and a lot of cool villains to boot.
But, If any villain could be called Nova's prime bad guy, it would have been the Sphinx. He's the age old wizard that changed his staff into a snake and threw it at Moses in the Bible. After being exiled for losing to Moses, he wandered the desert until he found the KA Stone. It made him immortal and gave him an ton of power. His problem, though, was that he was tired of living forever and wanted to die. Nothing worked, but he knew of a legend that the secret would be in a random persons mind. which happened to be good ol' Nova. Nova would've given him the info from his subconscious, but it would've wiped his mind clean and that would've sucked for Nova. The whole situation reminds me of Farscape and Scorpius trying to get the wormhole knowledge from John Crighton. (Nova came first, btw)
Nova was such a fun book for the first year or so. While Marv Wolfman wrote the series for the whole run, John only lasted 2 issues before handing the pencil duties to his brother Sal! Being a huge fan of Sal's, I was good with it. Tom Palmer inked a lot of Sal's issues too, and that just made it even cooler in my eyes. And....coupled with the fact that Kirby himself drew a few of the covers was icing on the cake.
The comic didn't take it self too seriously, either. In issue 5, Nova got word that Marvel Comics was wanting to do a comic about him. It was a really cool tie in to Fantastic Four #176 when the Impossible Man trashed the Marvel offices. (Remember, back then, Marvel had a little thing called "continuity". Strange, right?)
Unfortunately, issue 14 was Sal's last issue and the penciling chores went to none other than.....Carmine Infantino!
Now, any comic fan knows that Carmine was a huge name. He was one of the main artists for DC way back when, and was the original artist for the Flash! He was a great tremendous artistic force in comics. I can't respect him enough for all that he dd. BUT.....Nova just wasn't Carmine's coup de grace (See, French stuff. This is nothing if not a classy blog). The mood of the comic became darker. The designs weren't as fun...everything just kinda lost momentum.
I remember thinking that this big battle may be really epic and was looking forward to it when, in issue 25 on the last page, we find out that Nova has been cancelled and the cliffhanger ending would be followed up with in the pages of the Fantastic Four. I was ticked. As a kid, I didn't have time to hope a story would be finished in some unknown future time. Luckily, Marvel followed through on their promise and it did continue in the FF. So we get a conclusion (sort of) for Nova's grand storyline.
On a sidenote.... we didn't get Nova's final bit of that storyline until years later in the pages of ROM.
I know it almost sounds like I didn't like this book, but I did. The first 14 issues were an A+, while the remainder was a solid C.
25 issues...a little over 2 years of storytelling. I suggest going out and getting these. There's actually a Marvel Essentials collecting the whole thing, so if you're a fan of those, you can get the whole thing even cheaper. But, go....read....enjoy. Because, in my opinion, even for the worst issues of the series, they just don't make comics like this anymore!