Posted December 1, 2013 by Mikael Angelo Francisco in Comics

COMIC BOOK REVIEW: Nova #100 (Nova #10)

Writers: Zeb Wells, Gerry Duggan
Artists: Carlo Barberi, David Lopez, Paco Medina, Yale Stewart
Regular Cover: Ed McGuiness & Marte Gracia 

Thirty-seven years ago, a space-faring teen protagonist showed up in the pages of his very own title. Wearing a blue and yellow costume and powered by some kind of cosmic bucket on his head, the man called Nova strove to reach greater heights, following in the footsteps (web-swinging pattern?) of Marvel’s *original* teen hero superstar (that dude with a spider on his chest – his name kind of escapes me at the moment).

Unfortunately (and perhaps unsurprisingly), even during the Seventies, a blue and yellow costume and a bucket over your head didn’t exactly spell “success”, both in the Marvel universe and in the real world. It took a long time for Richard Rider’s career to fly – many would argue that his first true taste of superstardom was during the Annihilation event. This was where the high-flying New Warrior had to step up his game, mostly because he was the only member of the Nova Corps left, and partly because Earth’s champions were too busy trying to kill one another during Civil War to go to outer space and help out. Nova ripped out Annihilus’s throat, became a one-man police force, patrolled the universe and fixed intergalactic problems all by his lonesome, delivered a sweet, sweet “buuuuuurn” to Tony Stark, and eventually sacrificed himself to try to put an end to the threat of the despotic, Death-loving madman Thanos. Oh, and he did these while wearing a kick-ass blue and gold costume with spikes all over.

Not bad for a guy whose name could be shortened to “Dick Rider”.

Anyway, there’s a new Nova in town – Sam Alexander, a fifteen-year old kid who’s going through the same trials and challenges his predecessor did. A new character assuming the mantle meant a new series, and so Marvel launched Sam in his own ongoing title just this year.

To celebrate the 100th issue of a comic book bearing the title Nova (four volumes of Nova including the current run, one volume of Nova, the Human Rocket, and the four-issue Annihilation: Nova mini-series), Marvel decided to give us an extra-large issue of Nova #10 and put a large 100 on the cover.

The book has three stories, plus a few pages dedicated to the cover gallery that Marvel always puts in “special” or anniversary issues. In this case, the cover gallery is a necessity, because let’s face it, no one would actually believe that a title called Nova would reach 100 issues on its own. Sadly.

The first and second stories deal with Sam’s personal life as much as his superhero career. Zeb Wells does a good job of writing what basically amounts to a prologue of Sam joining the, er, new New Warriors (who’ll have their own book next year) infused with a very nice tribute to the original Nova (and what made him great), while Gerry Duggan presents the young Nova’s twin lives side-by-side, while ending with a cliffhanger that certainly makes for an interesting development (and a bold new status quo, if it lasts).

On the art side of things, it’s remarkable how two distinct styles blend in almost seamlessly in this book. Carlo Barberi and David Lopez deliver a smooth, somewhat anime-inspired story, while Paco Medina pulls out all the stops and impresses with his signature artwork. Both styles work well in the stories they were paired with, and are similar enough to belong in the same book without looking like they were done by the same artist.

The book also features a two-page story featuring a humorous take on what Nova #1000 would look like someday, and it’s illustrated by none other than Yale Stewart, creator of the mega-popular JL8 webcomic (an unofficial series which features child versions of DC’s Justice League). It’s published proof that a Marvel universe illustrated in the same vein as the JL8 world totally works – Marvel should hire the guy and let him become the next Skottie Young or Chris Giarrusso. Ah, Mr. Stewart also gains bonus points from me for drawing Spider-Man in his regular Amazing duds.

All in all, Nova #100 is a fun-filled rocket ship, ready to take you on an epic journey to the next hundredth-issue landmark of everyone’s favorite bucket-headed space buccaneer.

Also, would bringing back Richard Rider be too much to ask? He could totally be the new Nova’s mentor. Come on, Marvel. Be cool.

VERDICT: 10/10

This review was sponsored by Druid’s Keep (third floor, Fort Strip Mall, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig). Join the group on Facebook (here) and pay the shop a visit – it’s an awesome place to hang out and play games.

Mikael Angelo Francisco