New Reviews of Old Comics
What’s the actual title of this comic? The Man Called Nova, or Nova? I’ve seen it listed various ways online. Regardless, you can always count on finding issues of Nova in the various bargain boxes at comic stores around the country, and I have previously reviewed Nova #20. Obviously I thought that one was good enough to grab another issue. The basic premise is Richard Rider, a working class teenager with various social issues is given super powers by an alien; sort of a Spider-Man meets Green Lantern kind of thing.
“The First Night of ..The Condor!” written by co-creator Marv Wolfman with John Buscema and Joe Sinnott providing the action oriented pictures, opens with Nova busting up a bank robbery in progress. Bullets deflect off his impervious body and he knocks the would-be robbers out just as the cops arrive. Like Spider-Man, nothing can go right for Nova even when he saves the day. The cops want his real name, which he can’t give up to protect his secret identity, and the bank manager is pissed off because Nova blew out a giant window as he stormed into the bank to save the day. Watching all of this unfold nearby is The Condor, and bad guy who has plans for Nova. At home, Richard has a younger brother who is something of a genius who likes to invite crazy machines, and two working parents. Elsewhere the ever confident Condor continues to lay out his plans with his reluctant partner, Powerhouse. Reluctant because he doesn’t want to be a bad guy, doesn’t want to wear the garish costume but feels obligated to go along because The Condor saved his life. Back at high school, Richard Rider continues to make enemies with the star athlete. Hmmm. This part does sound a lot like Spider-Man, doesn’t it? This is all broken up when Rider notices Condor swooping by his school, so he changes into Nova and a fight scene ensues. Like a highway construction crew, Powerhouse does all the work while Condor sits on the side telling his partner what to do. I’m not sure how powerful Condor really is because as soon as the cops show up, he and Powerhouse make tracks. If you’re a true, powerful super-villain, are you really afraid of the cops? Back at home, a sullen Richard Rider plays fireman when his brother’s latest invention goes awry and he saves the day not with his powers, but with a fire extinguisher. This bit of foreshadowing comes in handy during the next fight scene when Nova uses a fire extinguisher to douse Powerhouse and end the issue.
Nova is a fairly typical 1970s Marvel comic; super-powerful hero, with a tortured alter ego who spends a lot of time thinking to himself about himself. Wolfman has always been one of my favorite writers and while this isn’t the pinnacle for him, it’s still pretty good. The art is also standard for the time. I’ll keep picking up Nova as I find them for cheap. Maybe someday I’ll even have the entire 25 issue run.