Jul 31, 2011

Here Comes A New Challenger: Nova

So we've recently learned who the new characters'll be in Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, and they're a pretty solid collection of fan-favorites.  I'm actually not much of a video game guy, but we've had a request to profile the new Marvel characters from Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, so hey, why not.  They're well-known to comics fans, but they're otherwise pretty obscure - the same could probably be said for the Capcom side, as I've only heard of two of the six.  Anyway, today we'll be starting out with Nova: The Human Rocket!

(Nova #1, written by Marv Wolfman, art by John Buscema and Joe Sinnott)

Nova can be summed up as "What if Peter Parker was the Green Lantern?"  The Nova Corps is a space-faring police force - and when a member of the Corps is mortally wounded while orbiting Earth, he has to transfer his powers to a human - high school loser Rich Rider.  He can fly, fire energy beams, and he has a sweet costume with a cool-albeit-kinda-goofy helmet.  Marvel pretty much tried to set up Nova as the Spider-Man of the '70s - even his rogues gallery kinda matches up.  Instead of the Sandman he had Diamondhead, instead of the Vulture he had the Condor, instead of Electro he had Powerhouse, and so forth.  His nemesis was the Sphinx, an Ancient Egypt-themed guy whose backstory is so complicated it gives me a headache. Eventually, the book had a long storyline where Rich went to the Nova Corps' home planet, Xandar, and had a bunch of adventures there.  The book ended with Rich giving up his powers and returning to Earth, and that was pretty much it for Nova until 1990's New Warriors #1.

Teenage vigilante Night Thrasher wants to put together a team of young superheroes, and Nova is right at the top of his list.  He figures Rich probably really still has his superpowers after all, so he asks him politely and runs a bunch of non-intrusive tests to...wait, no, that would be silly.  No, Night Thrasher just throws him off a building to see if he can fly.

(New Warriors #1, written by Fabian Nicieza, art by Mark Bagley and  Al Williamson)
And it works!  And instead of, you know, running away from this crazy person as fast as he can, Rich is grateful and joins his team, the New Warriors.  He sticks with them for most of their 75-issue run, and turns up in a coupld short-lived revivals of the New Warriors, but that's pretty much it for him until 2006's Annihilation event.  In it, Xandar is destroyed and the Nova Corps are wiped out by marauding bugman Annihilus, leaving Rich as the Corps' sole survivor.  He ends up with the combined powers of the Nova Corps, making him crazy-powerful and necessitating him adopting this sweet armored costume, which is I believe his primary costume in Marvel vs. Capcom 3.

(Annihilation: Nova #1, written by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning, art by Kev Walker and Rick Magyar)
This leads to a bit of a renaissance for Nova - he gets his own book again, he rebuilds the Nova Corps, and he even joins the Avengers for the first time.  Unfortunately, he recently sacrificed himself to seal up a universe full of crazy Cthulhu monsters, so he's dead right now.  I wouldn't count Nova out just yet, though - for a guy with a bucket on his head, he's got staying power.

So that pretty much sums up Nova, although I would be remiss in not mentioning his penchant for freaky interspecies sex.  In the '90s, he had a long-term relationship with fellow New Warrior Namorita (who, as the name implies, is Namor's half-Atlantean cousin); during Annihilation, he hooked up with green-skinned alien assassin Gamora (pictured below); and shortly before his untimely demise, he found a temporally displaced counterpart of Namorita (the one from "our" universe having died) and of course started dating her.

(Annihilation #1, written by Keith Giffen, art by Andrea DiVito)
Human Rocket indeed.

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