One of the best things about teenage superheroes is that they are allowed to make mistakes because of their youth. If Thor or Iron Man had done what Nova did in this issue, people would be up in arms about their stupidity and about bad writing. But when Sam Alexander fucks up, we buy it, because that’s what teenagers do, they fuck up, and learn from it, and grow. This allows for (in general), more interesting, fallible characters, and also for a wider variety of storyline possibilities, as this issue shows.
Gerry Duggan surprised me at the start of this issue, as ‘Cadivan’, the alien teased at the end of #11, is not really a big presence here. Sam confronts him, demanding he return the Nova helmet, but Cadivan refuses. He also doesn’t kill Sam, as he only hunts for sport or profit, and there’s none of that with this particular Nova, so he just ejects him from his ship. I hope Cadivan returns in future issues, he’s an interesting villain for sure. So, Nova is out in space with nothing to do, until his helmet picks up a distress signal from… a giant Nova Ship, which is being attacked by what Sam assumes are pirates. As I said, an adult hero might stop and think and ask what’s going on, but all Sam sees is the Nova logo in trouble, and he takes out the ‘Pirates’ and heads inside the ship.
Here, he finds a motley crew of aliens, lead by Captain Skaarn, who need his help. They’ve been living in this abandoned Nova Ship, and powering it thanks to the energy left in a dead Nova’s helmet (which is a creepy visual, props to Paco Medina for that, his style is very cartoonish, but he can transition nicely to darker stuff), but that energy is running out. They ask Sam to recharge it, and whilst he’s initially reticent, Skaarn manipulates him with a cute young alien girl, which pretty much stops Sam from probing further. Sam powers up the dead Nova, and therefore the ship, and flies off, thinking he’s done another great heroic deed.
Only he hasn’t. Skaarn is not the protector of a people using this ship as a home, he’s a slaver, and he’s taking everyone, including the cute alien girl, to the Markets to be sold. The ‘pirates’ trying to stop him were actually soldiers or police attempting to rescue the kidnapped victims, and not only that, they have Beta-Ray Bill on their side. He now thinks that Sam is a corrupt, evil Nova, and is heading off to stop him. So yeah, well done Sam, you thought you’d saved the day but now you’ve got a horse-faced Thunder God on your tail. I know it may seem like I’m making Sam Alexander out to be a real idiot here, but it does make for entertaining stories, and all of his questionable moments are understandable. Peter Parker fucks up, and so does Sam, it’s not bad company to be in.
At least things do seem to be looking up back down on Earth, as his mother has a new job at a Diner, although, if Sam’s not there to babysit… Even more trouble