Review: NOVA #1

Written by Jeff Loveness, Ramón Pérez
Art by Ramón Pérez, Ian Herring, Albert Deschesne
Published by Marvel Comics
Release Date: December 7, 2016

Fans of Nova are going to be really, really happy that Marvel NOW! includes a brand-new Nova #1. Because, you know, Nova has a lot of fans.

What’s that?

Which Nova? Both of them of course! That’s right, friendly review readers, Nova #1 features both Richard Rider, making his grand return from apparent death in the Cancerverse by going home while Sam Alexander also goes to his own home, but has a quick stop by Ego, the Living Planet on the way.

Throughout the issue, storytellers Jeff Loveness and Ramón Pérez (who also handles art) introduce readers to both Novas, a smattering of their respective supporting cast, and a sample of their settings. Alexander has considerably more panel time than Rider in Nova #1 than Rider, but the elder Nova’s moments are undeniably impactful. Rider is dealing with his inexplicable return to life, and the events that transpired in his absence, while Alexander is experiencing the ups and downs of being a super-powered high schooler.

Alexander’s plot happens to include a new girl at school and missing pants in the deseert. Loveness and Pérez also throw a few jabs at Alexander’s recent departure from the Avengers. Y’know, everything you expect from a Nova comic. Loveness and Pérez include the embarrassing humor inherent in being pantsless as your classmates walk by, taking the hypothetical nightmare and making it real. These choices make Sam an enjoyable (if not directly) relatable character, encouraging readers to invest in Alexander and take interest in his tale. Rider’s tale winds up framing Sam Alexander’s story, which is a smart move, as Loveness and Pérez pack suspense and mystery into Rider’s tale, then inject it with sadness.

Pérez’s art is wonderfully versatile. He draws a nice comic strip homage (including Apocalypse making a heart shape with his hands, and Ultron offering a diamond ring), a little bit or horror, some vast strangeness in space, Kaelynn’s extremely cartoony childish enthusiasm for her breakfast cereal (The Thing’s Mega Crunch!), and the typical awkwardness of high school. And Pérez absolutely nails it all while keeping everything very Marvel.

Pérez’s storytelling, as is always the case, is top-notch: sharp, crisp, variable, and energetic, flowing and lively. His characters run the range of humanity, as they should. And I’m not just talking about Sam Alexander and Richard Rider. Pérez draws background characters, with the same enthusiasm he uses for the titular duo, and the environments of Nova #1 are just as much a part of the story. I personally discovered Ramon Pérez through his webcomic, Kukuburi (If you’ve never read Kukuburi, do yourself a favor), and so much of the boundless enthusiasm that powered that endeavor translates to Nova #1.

Colorist Ian Herring and letterer Albert Deschesne deserve accolades as well. Herrings colors are spot on, bold, and brave, saturdated with energy and tempered by quieter pastels and softer shades. Herring and Pérez feed off one another nicely, and their careful collaboration also makes for sharp distinctions when the Nova in Nova #1 shifts from Rider to Alexander or back. Likewise, Deschesne makes a solid distinction in caption boxes. The use of mixed case type gives Nova #1 a comfortable feeling, more like measured prose tale than an excited storyboard script. These two definitely bring significant contributions to Nova #1, and the story is so much nicer for them.

Nova #1 feels like so much more than a single issue floppy. Loveness and Pérez pack quite a bit into one issue, with emphasis on family and legacy. Marvel hasn’t shied away from multiple characters with the same name, as heroes appear to be job titles more than characters, but in Nova #1, the distinction is made that there is legacy, connection, and continuity. If nothing else (but trust me when I say there’s plenty “else”) Nova #1 shows readers that Marvel is not afraid of legacy and the story impact it brings. Nostalgia for legacy alone is not the reason you should be checking out Nova #1 though. There are plenty of other reasons, the primary among them being to witness the collaboration of Loveness, Pérez, Herring, and Deschesne.

The Verdict: 10/10


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