I remember not caring much for Sam Alexander when he became Nova back in 2011. It seemed to me like a silly marketing ploy to sell more books to kids who were watching the recently announced Ultimate Spider-Man series. The stories were fine, ultimately, but he just didn’t resonate with me at first.
But over the years, Sam’s become an interesting character. Through space faring adventurers, dopplegangers and a membership in The Avengers, the current Nova volume has really shown the character growing and evolving.
Marvel is currently putting out a mixed bag of books. Civil War II has caused a number of books and characters to be held back as they try to slot in and tie back to the status quo of the book. There are still great titles that aren’t part of it. The Vision comes to mind. And while Nova had a Civil War II tie-in, it was a very subtle one as Sam comes to realize the weight and risk of being a hero in the wake of James Rhodes’ death.
This brief, 11 issue volume of Nova has focused on the why and who of the character. Seemingly reuniting him with his father, only for it to be revealed to be an alien impostor. Sending him to space to continue the search for his father with his team in All-New, All-Different Avengers. And finally agreeing to give up his role as Nova as a promise to his mother if he couldn’t find out how his powers work.
It’s that final promise that kicks of Nova #11, which saw Sam finally get the meeting you’d been waiting years for: Sam Alexander and Richard Rider meet. Sort of.
Last seen in 2010’s The Thanos Imperative, Richard Rider had been Nova since his debut in 1976. The character enjoyed an incredibly popular resurgence in 2007 thanks to Marvel’s growing line of cosmic themed books. But to stop the spreading Cancerverse and in an attempt to stop Thanos, Rider sacrificed himself. The Nova Worldmind shutdown, and the Nova Corps was no more.
But Sam finds the Worldmind in Nova #10, and inside it finds Rider, who has merged with the Worldmind. He’s seemingly trapped, but he has all the answers Sam needs, including a pep talk. Its a spectacular moment, the payoff to a year of stories about father figures and Sam finding his place in the world, both as a son and a superhero.
The issue ends with a twist in the epilogue. Rider, though claiming he was trapped within the Worldmind, shows up at his mom’s house. Marvel already confirmed a new Nova on-going would be coming as part of the Marvel NOW! relaunch, featuring Sam and Rider teaming up. How he escaped the Worldmind (or, more importantly, if) will certainly be revealed there.
Nova‘s 6th volume, though short and sweet, highlighted everything I want in a comic character, especially a legacy hero. I’m really happy with how Sam Alexander has turned out, and think he’s got potential to be one of Marvel’s most interesting characters. I’m happy that Richard Rider is returning, but hopefully this doesn’t mean Sam gets shunted permanently to the background. Nova #11 is on stands now. Nova Volume 7 is slated to begin in just a few short months.