Anghus Houvouras reviews the first issue of Marvel NOW!’s Nova…
The success of Marvel NOW! is readily apparent as their second wave of titles launch and continue to be far more ‘hit’ than ‘miss’. The revamped Nova is one of the most entertaining and endearing first issues I can remember. Great characters, fantastic art well suited for the subject matter, and the kind of wide open, anything can happen premise that makes for good comic book reading.
The first issue introduces us to Sam Alexander, a rebellious teenager in a small town dealing with his depressing existence with few prospects for improvement. His Father is the janitor – I mean ‘custodial engineer’ – of his high school, and prone to eccentric behavior and weaving tales of space adventure. He claims to have been a member of the Nova Corps, an intergalactic police force that patrols the galaxy. Unlike his brethren in the Corps, Sam’s father had roots and a family which led to his begrudging dismissal. Most people think Sam’s father is nuts, including Sam, who sees his crazy stories as the ramblings of a tired old drunk who has trouble dealing with reality. Sam’s reality is equally depressing. He’s bullied at school at realizes the dead end life that lays ahead for him. Like many super hero set ups, Sam is a smart kid looking for something to improve his existence. By the end of the first issue, Sam learns that his father’s tall tales of space faring adventure may actually have a hint of truth.
The first issue is jam packed with the kind of flourishes and details that have made so many Marvel NOW! titles worth reading. Writer Jeph Loeb gives us a great opener with equal time devoted to both characters and plot development. Ed McGuinness’ over the top art style lends itself well to the more grand elements of the Nova Corps, and surprisingly works well with the more intimate character moments. This might be a first for McGuinness, who has rarely had such an opportunity to tell a human story. His work seems more geared towards the cartoony insanity of the Hulk. Nova proves he’s capable of more than bombast.
I’ve been gushing over a few Marvel NOW! titles because they have righted so many wrongs and found exceptional pairings for the material. Nova quickly joins the ranks of Fraction and Allred’s FF and Hickman’s Avengers as the best of the best. Marvel NOW! continues to exceed expectations. And Nova #1 is the most encouraging title of the bunch. This is grade A storytelling and the reason to read comic books.
Anghus Houvouras is a North Carolina based writer and filmmaker. His latest work, the graphic novel EXE: Executable File, is available from Lulu.com.