This special over-sized anniversary issue of Nova serves as both a wrap up for Zeb Wells’ run, and the beginning of Gerry Duggan’s, as well as a celebration of the character’s history as a whole, and yes, that includes Richard Rider.
The opening story comes from Wells and Carlo Barberi, and opens with a hilarious imaginary scene where Sam Alexander uses the Silver Surfer’s skateboard to defeat a Mjolnir-wielding Doctor Doom and impress all of the Avengers, making the female members declare their love for him, and best of all making the Punisher crack a smile for the first time since his family was murdered. Why is this scene happening? It’s because it ends with Sam having to call his mother, as this whole story is Sam objectifying to the ground rules his mum, Justice and Speedball have come up with if he’s to join the New Warriors.
And to make matters worse, Sam doesn’t even want to join the New Warriors! He was asked to join the Avengers, by fucking Thor no less, and his mum forbade it, but now, she’s willing to let him join a team of Z-list scrubs? It’s just not fair! I continue to love how realistic Sam’s personality is, too many superheroic teenagers are way too nice and reasonable to be real teenagers, but Sam is much more life-like with his mood-swings, sometimes he’s incredibly nice and sweet, but at others, he’s totally unreasonable and a dick, and him badmouthing the new warriors is the best example of it.
To make matters worse, Justice and Speedball have nowhere else to go, and steal his bed, shoving him onto the floor! Wells continues to develop the romantic subplot between Sam and Carrie, in another very good scene, Sam is about to fully reveal that he’s Nova, only he says he can’t trust her, which pisses Carrie off no end, she kept his secret about helping his dad by doing janitorial work for him, and he still doesn’t trust her? Again, it’s great to see Sam be an unfeeling jerk, like a real teenage boy would be.
After another lecture from his mum, Sam bursts off into space to talk to the one guy he really can, the Watcher. He explains his issues, about not wanting to be a New Warrior, but an Avenger. In response, Uatu treats Sam (and us) to flashbacks of some of Richard Rider’s greatest moments as Nova. We see him battle alongside the original New Warriors, against Annihilus and the Phalanx. It wouldn’t be right to celebrate 100 issues of Nova without the man who starred in 90 of those issues, so it was great to get this return of sorts, and for it to serve a storyline purpose as well. Uatu also shows Sam the events of (I think) Infinity Gauntlet, where Rich teamed up with the Avengers to fight Thanos, and wasn’t really involved, as the big names just ignored him, as with their firepower, they didn’t need him. Sam realises that it’s better to be where he’s needed, and agrees to join the new New Warriors as a reserve member if they go up against something Nova-sized. I’m still not sure I’m going to read that series when it begins, but I reckon I’ll at least try #1.
The second story is the first from new ongoing writer Gerry Duggan, and shows Sam off in space fighting some aliens, whilst at the same time his school principal visits his mum to tell him that if he keeps skipping school, he may have to redo the year. I think this kind of thing shows what makes Nova different from other teen heroes. Even though the likes of Spider-Man are fighting crime, they rarely leave the city, let alone the planet! Nova’s superheroic exploits are farther afield, and will have a bigger effect on his home life. I’ve probably talked a bit too much about how Sam is a jerk in this review, so to balance it out, this story showed how cool and different a hero he is. He even goes as far as to learn about morse code so he can use it to communicate with aliens, which is pretty damn great. Just as the principal informs Mrs Alexander about the problems with her son, and also that her husband’s benefits are running out, Sam himself crash-lands back on Earth, after seeing some strange lights that have rendered him blind. Blind! Oh dear, that’s unfortunate, but an interesting path to take. With Gerry Duggan, it looks like Nova is in good hands, this story has the same light-hearted tone that Loeb and Wells have established, and given that Duggan is a comedian, it makes sense that it would be funny.
The artwork for this story comes from regular artist Paco Medina, and I liked how well it flowed from the first one, Medina and Barberi have similar cartoonish styles.
Throw in a fun two-pager featuring a grown-up Sam and his son as Nova, and the usual nostalgic cover gallery, this was a great way to celebrate Nova’s centennial. It’s taken a long time to get to 100 issues, here’s to 100 more!