Monday, August 11, 2014

On The Nova Corps

Also known as, “Space Cops and a bunch of A-Holes.”
I’m John Kennedy, and I love sci fi and superheroes equally, and when you combine the two, I can’t help but tie my money to bricks and then hurl these bricks at studio executives in the hopes that I can receive more of these. I am a life long Green Lantern fan, I already have my tickets to the early preview of Guardians of the Galaxy, and my pull list at my local comic shop usually includes all of the cosmic arcs and cosmic storylines that are in comics.

Obviously, I’m extremely excited to see Guardians when it comes out, though for more reasons than just hearing Blue Swede again. I love the cosmic arcs because I have always loved seeing heroes roam the space ways. Heroes fighting alien hordes or pompous supervillains threatening to devour suns always strikes a chord within me; sure, it’s a cheesy one, but part of me sits enthralled when I read about the power struggle between the Skrulls or the Guardians of the Galaxy taking on the pirate ships of Thanos.

 After picking up the score to the Guardians of the Galaxy movie last night, I read the titles of some of the tracts and it got me excited to find out how the Novas will be portrayed in this movie. The Novas look different, wearing greenish blue fatigues and armored vests as well as blasters on their right hands. It’s actually not a bad look; I love the original look to the Novas, but these guys appear as a more realistic kind of space cops. How do I know so much about the Novas?

 Well, once upon a time, when I was in elementary school, my favorite thing in the world was to trace the outlines of comic book covers. I even had a book that had a bunch of different covers in it, and I would sit there and trace them all day long. I couldn’t draw for shit, but I still enjoyed tracing them and occasionally trying to add things to them. One cover in the comic was about Nova, a superhero who I learned had some pretty cool powers such as flying at the speed of light, shooting laser blasts, and serving as part of a galactic force of peacekeepers. He wasn’t as versatile as Green Lantern, but I loved how he could fly through space and could shoot energy blasts. I found a couple of comics in my school’s latchkey program and read through them; I was kind of disappointed, as they all seemed to feature around him fighting a villain called Diamondhead whose power was he had a diamond…head. (Deep writing there.)

 For many years I did my best to ignore Nova, assuming he was nothing more than a rip off of Green Lantern. Nova’s series did not last long and he would only return in New warriors before fading to the side lines, only appearing as a guest star in other comics. For a hero whose gimmick being known as the “Human Rocket” he may have never seen the light of day again save for his resurgence in the pages of Annihilation, where we found the hero as the last survivor of the Nova Corps and fighting to save the galaxy from the forces of Annihilus. Dan Abnett and other writers really revived the hero. Though still humorous, they gave the hero much needed depth. He was not just a space cop patrolling space but rather he was the LAST space cop.

In one of the first issues of his 2006 line he had to deal with the stress of working overtime and trying to fix a broken universe, where whole worlds were still suffering from the Annihilation Wave and many of these worlds still could not be saved despite his best efforts. Nova became more than just Richard Rider in fancy space duds or as one comic book reviewer described him, “Iron Man in space.” He dealt with fading humanity in Annihilation Conquest, he saw his power stripped from him in the War of Kings, he barely survived the Canceruniverse and he found himself having to sacrifice himself to defeat Thanos once and for all. (Or so he thought.) He was the hero who fought terrors on a galactic scale, and though he was still only human, he did what he thought was right.

 In 2012, we saw the line get rebooted with a new hero. This time it’s Sam Alexander, a young kid who learns that his father’s drunken bedtime stories were actually real. Here we see a new Nova who not only has to learn to handle his powers but has inherited old enemies, forced to juggle his home life and finishing school with saving the universe from Thanos and trying to find out who has killed the Watcher, one of the few beings Sam considers his friend. Ok, that’s enough of a recap of these heroes. Why do I like them so much? The Novas, since 2006, have represented lone guardians fighting against impossible odds. Similar in concept and design to Green Lantern, they differ in the fact of how few they are.

Just as Kyle Rayner was the only Green Lantern for the 90s, Richard Rider and later Sam Alexander were heroes who sought to maintain law and order in a rapidly changing cosmos. They fought Cthonic entities trying to break into our world, and they hunted down galactic slavers so they could bring freedom to a cruel cosmos. Richard not only had to fight against the Annihilation Wave, but he went from a rowdy comic relief sort of hero to the hardened general needed to win. Sam is a kid who went from being picked on by bullies at school to being picked on by villains, his childhood friends being replaced slowly by allies in the Avengers. Both heroes represent heroes who when given great power take on the universe as their responsibility. When you read the comics you see problems that affect our planet right now being told on exotic landscapes and far flung moons.

Although at times it is extremely campy and we all know that the real villains of our world aren’t as identifiable by jagged spikes jutting out of their skin we still see heroes who try to protect others at the risk of their own. In a way, their police badge is the helmet they wear, and they patrol not the streets but the stars. Or maybe I have a thing for John C. Reilly, aka Rhomann Day. Could be that.
I'm jealous of him.

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