Bargain Comic Reviews

New Reviews of Old Comics

Nova #20 (July 1978)


Purchase price: $1

Is the title of this comic Nova or The Man Called Nova?  I guess it doesn’t make a difference either way, but The Man Called Nova is kind of a misnomer because Nova’s true identity, Rich Ringer, is really a teenager still in high school, so “man” might be a bit of an exaggeration, which is rare in comics, I know.  I bought this thinking it would be a true cheese-ball comic that would give me plenty of material for a negative review.  While it did turn out to have the expected cheesiness, there were a few pleasant surprises as well.

Marv Wolfman and Carmine Infantino teamed up for “At Last..the Inner Circle!” which starts with young Nova getting some morning exercise before he has breakfast with his genius kid brother, Bobby, then heading off to school for an important exam.  Because Bobby is a genius and he suspects his brother Rich (Nova) is up to no good, Bobby has built a Sherlock Holmes robot to help spy on Rich and figure out what his secret is.  It would seem Rich is a bit of an idiot because he struggles to pass the test and it’s a big deal when he barely passes so he can move up to the next grade.  Another storyline in the issue is Rich and Bobby’s dad, Charles, being mixed up in some shady underworld group called The Inner Circle and now Charles is planning to fight back.  As Nova, Rich sets out to follow his dad, which gets him into some fight scenes with some unsavory characters that eventually leads Nova to The Inner Circle.  Here he winds up in another scene and the story ends where the cover started.

There are some decidedly generic points with this comic; the idiot jock hero, and his super intelligent nerdy brother; the shadowy, all powerful underworld group making people miserable.  Bobby’s Sherlock Holmes robot is well past generic and downright annoying.  Taken as a whole, however, Nova was actually a pretty good read.  Considering Marv and Carmine worked on it, this really shouldn’t be a surprise.  Having never read a Nova story before, or even knowing what he was about, I have to admit I’m interested in reading more and I doubt this is all that popular of a title so I think I have a good chance of finding more issues for a buck or less.

On the top of the splash page there is a (very) brief rundown of Nova’s origin.  He was blasted by a light bolt from space and found himself transformed in one of the most powerful people on Earth.  Rich has taken the costume of his alien benefactor to become a champion of justice.  So was the light bolt sheer accident or was there an alien involved with directing it?  Also I find the whole process of being hit with this bolt, discovering super human powers and deciding to use them for good to be a thought train that seems unlikely for some young guy just scratching by on some high school exams.    Wouldn’t a real teen-ager use these powers to acquire material things and line up the chicks?  You know I’m right.  Good thing most teen-agers in the Marvel Universe are of a better moral character.

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