Why was I so hyped for this comic? Let me explain. Back in those ancient days before The Pulse and Comic Book Resources, before Previews or (ugh!) Wizard, all we had for news on upcoming Marvel comics were the Marvel Bullpen Bulletins page and F.O.O.M. magazine's Department of InFOOMation. Both the Bulletins page and InFOOMation had been building up this new comic by Marv Wolfman, John Buscema, and Joe Sinnott as the next big thing in superheroes. A superhero that was fun (yeah, comics were a bit darker in the Groovy Age as compared to the Silver Age--but so was everything else!) and not linked to any fads or trends (like Master of Kung Fu, Iron Fist, Deathlok, and so many others had been). A straight-out, smash-em-up superhero strip in the tradition of Spider-Man (it says so on the cover!). Aw, why am I rappin' when I can just show ya the Bullpen Bulletin:
So, as you can no doubt guess, my excitement for this comic had built to a fever-pitch. This was the week Nova #1 was supposed to come out, and by the Bristling Beard of Odin, Young Groove was gonna get that comic! (Cue Carly Simon singing "Anticipation"!) So we got to Mitchell's Market, I jumped out of the car, ran inside, and headed straight for the spinner rack. And there it was! I flipped through it, savoring the magnificence of the Buscema/Sinnott art, waiting for the shopping to be finished so I could get back home and read this magnificent mag!
I wasn't the least bit disappointed. The story of Harry S. Truman High's uber-nerd Rich Rider getting powers from a dying alien (Rhomann Dey, Nova-Centurion of the Xandarian Nova Corps, son of Sonny and Holly Dey, btw--KIDDING!) so he could battle Zorr, an intergalactic super-criminal, sounded a bit familiar (had a bit of a ring to it, in fact, a green ring...), but added to the cooky cast of teens Rider hung out with (Caps, Bernie, Ginger, and the rest--kind of a mix between Spidey's supporting cast and the Archie Comics gang) and that awesome blue and gold costume, man, it punched all the right buttons!
Wolfman wrote the comic in a neo-Silver Age Marvel style, using chapter titles, large doses of teen angst, and some well-placed humor to create a fun, exciting atmosphere for his new superhero. Buscema and Sinnot pulled out all the stops as well, with dramatic, explosive (literally!) panels that just oozed superhero fun from the pages.
Once Rider received his Nova powers and instructions from the dying Nova-Centurion, the action kicked into high gear. Over the course of just a few pages, Nova discovered some of his powers (flight, super-strength, invulnerability), had to overcome his natural fear of having to battle a scary-looking alien thug like Zorr, and had to learn how to come up with snappy patter like his hero (natch) Spider-Man. By the time Nova (with deus ex machina aid from Nova-Prime) defeated Zorr, I was cheering! Nova was far-freakin'-out! He would, no doubt, become the next big thing, the next Spidey.
The mag lasted 25 issues.
But Nova was too cool to croak, so he kept popping up (in the Fantastic Four, Rom, the Defenders, and the Avengers just to name a few places) throughout the post-Groovy Age era, until he became a member of the New Warriors, which lasted on and off throughout the 90s.
Today, Nova's back in his own (very good) mag, more cosmic than super-heroic, but still very, very cool.