Comics Assemble!: Nova vol 4: Nova Corps

Hmm, apparently in my continuing my series of reviews of the Marvel Cosmic titles, I missed one of the adventures of Nova, the human rocket – in volume 4: Nova Corps. I’ve been trying to break things up, not reading all the Nova volumes back-to-back – but instead breaking them up with other TPBs. This was the only time I wasn’t sure how it was going to work out – if this should have been read immediately after Nova vol 3 and before Road to War of Kings – but as it turned out, it didn’t really matter. There are a couple of references at the very end to preparing for a galactic war, but otherwise this reads well enough no matter what order you put it in. Which is not to say that it works well as a stand alone – but to get the full story, you know what to do.

When we last left Nova (in the Secret Invasion volume) he was surprised at the very end to find new Nova Corps recruits coming to his rescue. This volume begins with Nova leading that same group of warriors to help clean up some aftermath crises on Earth in the wake of the Skrull Secret Invasion. He likes the people who’ve been selected, even as he’s a little put-out by the WorldMind – which went ahead and empowered these new centurions, even though Richard wasn’t ready to do so yet. He makes a deal with the WorldMind – train these first new recruits, and bring on more later.

A deal which the WorldMind promptly breaks, suddenly empowering thousands of humans with the power of Nova – and even a villainous living planet to serve as the new Nova Corp’s base of operations. But, to power all these new recruits, the WorldMind needs Richard to give back the full power of the Nova Force – the cosmic power which all Nova centurions draw upon. It was never meant to be handled by just one Centurion – and those who have wielded it in the past went insane from holding so much power. So, when Richard resists giving the power back – the WorldMind strips him of all his power – leaving him just a regular citizen again.

But Richard isn’t so sure he’s gone nuts, and he calls upon the lab where his brother works to run some tests on him. What those tests reveal about both Richard and the true intention of the WorldMind are shocking revelations – but before a final reckoning can take place, the new Nova Corps are called into action to defend the Universe from a War of Kings.

I’m conflicted about this particular volume of Nova, I liked it more than the previous volume (Secret War) but there were still some things that nagged at me. First off, this volume is short – only four issues long for this story arc. Marvel includes 2 issues from Nova’s first comic series (his origin issue, and another fairly relevant story for the purposes of teaching a lesson) with book ends of Nova and the WorldMind sometime after Annihilation but before the current arc in this book – where Nova is doubting his abilities and the WorldMind shows him through flashback how far he’s come. On the one hand, I’m glad these issues were included – I had considered picking up the Essential Nova book, which collects a whole bunch of issues from his original series – but having read these two, I now know it’s not for me. On the other hand, it read like a bad ‘very special episode’ of an 80’s Nova TV series.

My next problem with this story is that it’s not particularly ‘stand-alone’. You need to really need to have read at least the previous volume to understand this story (and moreso than that, the entire Nova run) – plus the story doesn’t really come to a conclusion here, you’ll have to read at least the next book to get that (I’ll know more once I’ve read it). Perhaps I’ll feel differently once I’ve read the next book (Nova vol 5: War of Kings), if these three volumes form a 3 act story once read together. But so far, it’s not working too well for me.

Which is not to say that I didn’t like it at all; there were a number of highlights in this volume. Richard visits with some of his friends from his time with The New Warriors (a team he worked with on Earth for years before his current cosmic adventures) to talk about his feelings of inadequacy. I was never a fan of The New Warriors, and I still enjoyed this interaction (and it made me want to see FireStar return to active duty on some team’s roster). It was also a nice twist when Richard’s brother – who was always jealous of Richard’s hero status – gets selected for the Nova Corps, leading to a number of run-ins between the two and lots of raw emotions to be dealt with.

And I even liked some of the new Nova Corps recruits, even as I have mixed feelings about the whole need to have a Corps at all. It just feels like Green Lantern when you add in all these other Novas – I liked Nova as a lone Centurion, troubleshooting for the whole universe. Guardians of the Galaxy works well for me as a team (because they’re all so different from each other), but having an entire Corps all with the same powers… again, it just seems too much like Green Lantern to me (which works better as a team, than when they did the ‘sole surviving Green Lantern’ storyline with Kyle Rayner for so long).

I’ll at least be sticking with Nova through one more volume, as next comes War of Kings. I’ll be curious to see if that volume wins me over, or if I start only reading Nova when he’s a part of a larger storyline that I’m interested in. But before that, next up I’ll be returning to Guardians of the Galaxy, as their involvement in the War of Kings begins.


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