The eleventh issue of Nova is the final issue for writer Sean Ryan and artist Cory Smith; two creators who did wonderful things with Sam Alexander in such a short run. Throughout this series, Sam has been asking a lot of questions, and with this final comic comes a lot of important answers for him and fans of his felllow Nova Corps members.
At the end of the galaxy, Sam finds himself face-to-face with Worldmind – the sentient computer that all Nova’s have in their helmets. Worldmind shares with Sam some history of the Nova Corps, explains his helmet, and his role in the universe. Worldmind also reveals that his father’s consciousness is NOT among the fallen Novas, as well as longtime Corps member (and best Nova ever) Richard Rider.
Sam moves onto more human concerns, specifically his mother, which somehow opens the door for Richard Rider himself to inhabit Worldmind and explain to Sam how important being Nova is and how to deal with his friends and mother. Sam takes Richard’s advice, as well as a tracking device to ease his mom’s worry, and returns home fully accepting of his role as a hero.
Nova #11 was nowhere near as sappy as it could have been, which is a relief. Instead, readers join Sam in leaving behind his self-doubt and fully embracing his place in the universe. There is an undeniable emotional connection when we finally see Sam Alexander and Richard Rider sharing a handful of panels. In the epilogue, Richard returns home to surprise his mom saying simply, “I’m back“. Whatever the future holds for both Sam and Richard, Nova fans should be plenty happy by the end of this comic.
What made Sam Alexander’s Nova so different was his engaging relationships with his mother and friends, and the struggle to keep those relationships alive. Managing a social life, school, home, and being a superhero is no easy task – especially for a kid. Sam coming out in the open as Nova to his friends, and helping his mother cope with his superhero activity was exactly the ending this series needed. Despite being the finale to this particular run, it feels more like the beginning of really getting to grow with Sam. There’s still plenty of mystery surrounding his father, and how Rich Rider fits into everything leaves the door open to some potentially fantastic adventures.
Through the ups and downs of Marvel’s last year or so of comic books, Nova has been a consistently great book. This was one of the series that really nailed the fresh and youthful approach to broadening the Marvel audience. Sean Ryan has done wonders for a character that I personally was not that interested in at the beginning. Now at the end of his run, Ryan has certainly won over Richard Rider loyalists by simply giving us a Nova book that was different; at times like a young Spider-Man in space. To have converted readers into Sam Alexander fans, and then at the very end also bring back Richard Rider was a very satisfying move. Hopefully, now that all is said and done, Ryan is pleased with his work as he moves onto writing Prowler.
Getting to the Worldmind and having it break everything down for Sam is one thing, seeing it presented in such fascinating fashion is another delightful attribute of this book. Cory Smith and Andres Mossa do an amazing job visually telling readers what Sam was absorbing, and without their efforts a large portion of this book could have been quite confusing. For example, they put Sam in an actual school desk to be taught the Worldmind’s lessons of all-things Nova Corps. The stained-glass cathedral art of Nova history and battles was the biggest highlight, followed closely by the playing cards of Earth’s mightiest heroes. There was a lot of information to take in, and without a brilliant effort by Smith and Mossa this issue would have needed to be much longer.
The lack of action in Nova #11 shouldn’t be a problem for anyone, and there so much heavy subject matter discussed that the desire for anything else melts away immediately. I don’t understand how Rich Rider commandeered Worldmind to talk to Sam, or how he is alive again, but I also don’t care. The fact that Rider is back and he and Sam shared a scene together heavily outweighs the potential hole in logic. Going forward, Nova will surely become essential reading, and I look forward to watching Sam continue to grow as a character. Nova #11 is a great sendoff from this creative team and an important chapter in the character’s history.
Oh… and in case I didn’t mention it enough times: RICHARD RIDER IS BACK!