1. There are no bad characters..only bad writers. In other words, Sam has been mostly written poorly. Sam Alexander was introduced somewhat well in AvX, Point One, and Waid’s AvX digital only issue. Loeb’s work really fell off and was poorly written in his first 6 issues of the main series. His dialogue was zany cliche camp and his supporting characters were cliches of the worst sort. The dialogue was so out of touch with the teen demographic, it sounded like a 50 year old writing about a teen, not the “career defining” book for Loeb we were promised. His youthful mistakes lacked the “with great power comes great responsibility” moment…and the book suffered as we never got clear looks into Sam’s character or moral heroism.Wells compounded this poor characterization in a series of forgettable cross-overs and the obligatory “teen hero book Spider Man cross over” tale. When Loeb ditched and Wells was brought in for a “gun for hire work”, we already had three writers (4 counting Duggan in a couple more months) deal with Sam in less than a year. Not exactly a good plan! Right then, Sam was written as a bad character after 10 issues.This is more than most characters get. This was a killer to the new Nova book. So, for nearly a YEAR, Sam was a poorly written character and that hurts my impression of him. He seemed every bit “Poochie from the Simpsons”
2. Sam is too young. He’s only 15! That is too young to be wielding such a dangerous weapon and engaging in such dangerous behavior. Loeb and Marvel wanted to make this book “Good clean Fun” but this makes the fun seem very irresponsible..especially in this post Columbine, Newtown and Aurora world. Marvel took “Good clean fun” heroes like the New Warriors and eviscerated them in front of their biggest stage in Civil War. You cant go back to this shit.
3. Sam has been given the red carpet, Rider was not. I believe Richard Rider’s Nova Prime was an exceptionally strong concept that marvel mismanaged.Rider never got major roles in two (2) big Marvel events, he never got support from a major role in an Saturday morning cartoon, he never got top “rock star” creative uber talent, he never got anywhere near as many CBR or Newsarama plugs and backdrops, USA today articles, ad nauseaum. Rich never got a legit shot on a real Avengers roster or a cover of one shots with Avengers and X men. Is it so unreal to see why doing this with Sam is highly annoying to us? Rich got a “secondary” event that competed with another huge Marvel event, Civil War..his subsequent events almost always featured him less and less and tried to pump up other properties, and they almost always competed with another , more prominent Marvel event. He never appeared much in the larger 616 universe, especially ignored by Bendis and the sphere of relevance.
4. Duggan (and Yost) have , at least, salvaged Sam. (EDIT: This notion is , IMO shot.. Duggan’s book tanked in quality , he never followed up on the decent BRB arc, Yost’s New Warriors was canceled ) Duggan has finally showed Sam in some heroic moments of consequence, and he’s built a much more interesting supporting cast and teasing future story lines. There is so much more genuine passion and personal emotion in Duggan’s stuff compared with Loeb or Wells. I knew after about halfway through the BRB Arc, Sam can be a good character and the whole Nova concept can be stronger with him. However, we have some work to do with the character. Yost had him in a few good moments as well as Waid.
5. Sam and Rich can be stronger together. (EDIT: While I do think this could still be true, I am more dubious of the notion. Basically , at this point I am just a stubborn hater of Sam and I don’t think I could salvage him) I guess no one at Marvel ever read Rich’s stuff..like when Nova 0:0 helped out Rich become a better Nova. Sam needs a mentor, Rich can do this and be the “Steve Rogers of Space”….Axel Alonso and Tom B always tout Sam as “Luke Skywalker meets Peter Parker” Rich was that already, and it didn’t work because marvel simply never promo’d Rich enough (until Annihilation not even on the level of Ronnie Raymond, Firestorm). Rich had , of course turned into Luke Skywalker meets Steve Rogers . With the Green Lantern corps, it wasn’t until DC embraced all the corpsmen and their place that the book turned into a top seller. Nova Corps should be embraced…not dismissed.
6. This (current) book has already failed. 20k sales..doomed. Sam Alexander (as it was) observed and rejected..we move on. Joe Quesada himself said you need to appeal to the core fans first, or else they will reject it…not if your Jeff Loeb and Steven Wacker I guess. Those guys didn’t and thus the product failed. It takes more than showing Diamondhead or Terrax in the intros, or mysteriously cameo Rocket and Gamora as perhaps Liaisons of the Black Nova Corps with no explanation. Then throw in Speedball and Justice, suddenly after 15 years of being young adults making them look like they are 15 again. Not cool. This series needed more roots in the prior series…and it has been waay too slow, clunky, and plodding getting to Duggan’s improved stuff. (which has been well done). Duggan is writing a solid book…but Loeb and Wells (and the whole gamut of other issues) killed it.
7. This book glossed over a lot of better Legacy Nova characters that Nova fans had been introduced to. Ko-Rel (worldmind version), Robbie Rider, Adora Dey, Malik Tarcel, Garthaan Saal, Heck Even Frankie Reye (tongue in cheek) ..this book has not gone into much at all of past Nova Corpsmen in anything but the most banal sense. If you wanted a teen Nova how about Ko-Rel’s teenage Kree Son?
8. Sam needs to earn his dues. Wally West and Bucky were around for decades before they got their real “shots”..these types of legacy replacements always seem to work better to me than the “other” instant handover types , like Jamie Reyes or Jason Ruschs of the world. Sam comes off as a commercial “demographic gimmick” to many people, and, when it is analyzed closely, Sam Alexander is a very unique situation as a Legacy. I see Sam as a means to grab a certain population in the most commercially sensible way…and it’s not at all laid thin. Marvel miscalculated , for some odd reason, the base of Rider fans who would be pissed, especially when this much money and effort was dumped into Sam. That adds to frustration. I have No problem with targeting a demographic and going for it.. BUT why was the Nova name needed? If your going to belittle the core old school Nova fans as “Small but vocal” why did you need their namesake to be your flagship? Why couldn’t this guy just be “Pulsar Lad” or some such? He (Sam) needs to grind for a few years as a “Kid Nova” type character before he sees this kind of role. Ease fans into liking Sam while pissing off the Rider fans less…that’s how this needed to be done. Make Sam the Johnny Quest to Rider’s Reese. (EDIT: Nah, just kill him off and make him go away!)Rich could show him the gateway right into a black hole)