Make way for Nova! Artists: Keith Pollard and Rudy Nebres

NOVA

Medium: Comic books
Published by: Marvel Comics
First Appeared: 1976
Creators: Marv Wolfman (writer), John Buscema and Joe Sinnott (artists)
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More than two thirds of a century since the superhero genre first took over comic books, the industry is crawling with them. Also flying, swimming and teleporting with them, and locomoting with them in every other …

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… possible way as well. With hundreds, possibly thousands of them running around (also striding, jumping, shambling around, etc.), it's possible a few little things about them have become a mite repetitious. If the 1976 origin story of Marvel Comics' Nova (alien law enforcer transfers power to an earth person just as he dies) sounds familiar, it's because Green Lantern used that one in 1959.

It was in Nova #1 (September, 1976) that Richard Rider, a student at Harry S. Truman High School, got zapped by Rhomann Dey, a Centurian of the Nova Corps, who was orbiting overhead. As Richard recovered from the assault, Rhomann briefed him telepathically. He'd been chosen at random to receive great strength, reasonable invulnerability and the ability to fly — generic super powers, that is. The deal included a spiffy blue and yellow costume (teleported down later) and a fight to finish up, He polished off the alien villain, then went on to bash his share of home-grown ones as well.

The story was written by Marv Wolfman, who had worked on The Teen Titans in the previous decade and would work on another set of them in the following one. The basic layouts were done by John Buscema, who helped launch several new series at Marvel right about then, such as Ms. Marvel and She-Hulk. The finished art was by Joe Sinnott (The Mighty Thor, Treasure Chest). Later, Carmine Infantino, who had recently been editorial director of DC Comics, drew a substantial run.

Nova's comic book was short-lived. Toward the end, he and a few supporting characters (including extremely minor heroes named after The Comet and Crimebuster, as well as a couple of villains) started getting involved with the affairs of Xandar, where Rhomann Dey hailed from. That storyline remained unresolved when the title folded (#25, May, 1979).

It was finished up in a crossover with The Fantastic Four. Since Nova no longer had his own title, it was okay to send his life careening in directions untenable for a series character. He and the survivors among those supporting characters became The Champions of Xandar (no relation to a defunct Marvel superhero team) and went on superheroing far away from the mainstream Marvel Universe.

Later, Richard returned to Earth, minus his super powers. Still later, they were restored, and he started superheroing on Earth again. He got involved with The New Warriors, a group of young heroes composed mostly of odds and ends from defunct comics such as Power Pack and The New Mutants. Since then, he's been in and out of his own title a couple of times, but mostly hangs out with the group, at least during such times as it's being published.

— DDM

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Text ©2005-09 Donald D. Markstein. Art © Marvel Comics.