After writing half of #100, the Gerry Duggan era of Nova begins, and it’s pretty much more of the same. Duggan does a good job here of balancing the science-fiction side of Sam Alexander’s life as Nova, whilst also taking a bit more time to explore his ordinary, home life. There’s high-flying fights against aliens, but also getting called to the Principal’s Office. It’s all very typical teen superhero stuff, but it’s well-written, and there’s enough new ideas in there that it doesn’t feel too repetitive.
The first thing Sam has to deal with his the fact that he was ‘blinded’ by flashing lights at the end of last issue. Now, it turns out that it’s not permanent, and he’s not going to become Space-Daredevil, but it does have repercussions for him, as it may have been caused by repeated hits to the head whilst in action as Nova and just in his regular life. It remains to be seen whether this was set-up for future stories where he has to stop being Nova, or just an opportunity for a joke about helmets, but it was a good scene, and the fact that Sam’s mother couldn’t afford to pay the doctor’s bill got across the Alexander family’s financial woes nicely. Being Nova really is having a pretty shitty effect on Sam’s life when you think about it. Sam heads to school, and soon gets into a fight with the school bully, which gets him called to the Principal’s Office, where, as punishment, he is forced to join the Chess Club. I’m guessing that Sam learning to play chess will play a part in his growth as a superhero, and that the strategies he learns from the game will pay off in a battle against some evil aliens.
Speaking of evil aliens, the flashing lights that Sam keeps seeing eventually point him in their direction, as it turns out that they are a map of the stars, pointing Sam to the location of other Novas. Only of course, all the other Novas are dead. Sam flies to a distant planet, where he finds a dead Nova Corpsman tied up in spider-webs by alien spider-monsters. After a pretty entertaining fight, Sam grabs the dead Nova’s helmet, and sees a vision of his last moments, where he is eaten by a giant spider-monster, which leads to another cool action moment. I have to say I really like the way Duggan writes Nova’s in-battle dialogue, he sounds like a cocky kid playing games, and that really makes sense. So, it turns out that all of the lights that Sam can see are the locations of dead Novas. Sam tries to reach out and see if any of them are still alive, but no luck.
Or at least, not for him, as the issue ends with the introduction of a new villain, Cadivan, who seems to be an Alien Hunter who is always bragging about how he once killed a Nova. His trophy lights up, and he knows that there is another Nova out there for him to kill, and is heading to him. I think this plot of Sam following up on dead Novas is a good one, it plays up his role as the last-surviving member of the Corps, and it could very well be a great way for Richard Rider to return, or at least for his final fate to be addressed. Plus, there’s still the small matter of Sam’s dad still being out there somewhere.
This was another strong issue of Nova, the heavy focus on Sam’s home life was needed, and the new space-bound plot is dark enough that small scenes like Sam baby-sitting his sister are necessary to balance it out. The art from Paco Medina was excellent as always, and it really does look like Duggan is going to do some cool stuff with this character. I look forward to a long run, this book has had too much chopping and changing already.