(Long) Review of Nova #19

Nova #19 Review

Well, its Issue #19 of the new “Nova” ongoing that features Sam Alexander. Nearly two years since this character came on the scene and it’s been since January of 2010 that the “swan song”  of the former Nova, Richard Rider came to an apparent conclusion in the DnA masterpiece, The Thanos Imperative.

While overall, I feel the writing of the book has been routinely disappointing and cliche, I had been pretty high on Gerry Duggan’s writing since taking over the book in serious trouble as of issue #10.

I was high on Duggan because he was delivering some genuine and thought provoking moments of moral development in Sam Alexander’s brief super hero career, the kind of moments Jeff Loeb and Zeb Wells bypassed in lieu of zany and cliché adventures that made “Poochie” from the Simpsons jealous.

However, it was clear from the early series interviews with Duggan, that he was not the Richard Rider or even the DnA / Giffen fan’s “white knight” come to deliver salvation to the fans of those disaffected groups. With Issue #19, that stuff comes to an unfortunate head in one of the weakest issues of the entire disappointing volume of Sam Alexander Nova.

I looked past the little “fan boy issues” I initially had with Duggan’s work…like where the hell did those Korbinites come from? or is that Stardust’s spear? or why would Duggan say the Corpsman died in the cancerverse? There are plenty more. Duggan himself was flamed by fans from an early take over Nova interview where he said he thought the Corps were all dead in the Cancerverse. Its apparent he just did not read  The Thanos Imperative. Oh yeah he also called us Rider fans the good ole “small but vocal” complement (Right from Brevoort’s and Wacker’s talking points?)..I guess your books are used to pulling three figures Gerry where you can afford to marginalize the readership of something you are writing?

It would be one thing if the book was trying to play strictly earth based and do its own thing, but its romping in the same playground as Rider and his old book…it stands out as silly that there is not a stronger , more refined connection to the old book. It wants to build off some of the credibility the Nova and DnA series had established, yet routinely takes every opportunity to marginalize the prior stuff and paint it as irrelevant. Not a good idea.

So let’s get down to issue #19 , because it is where a lot of the problematic sides of Gerry Duggan, and the series at large , come to a head and rear their ugly face again.

The issue has Huge amounts of continuity errors or , at least, “continuity clumsiness”. After awhile,the mistakes just get aggravating. The Rocket Raccoon character is portrayed strange and ridiculous…almost overly violent and psychopathic.  It is implied the “gold domes” helmets were a source of Nova power, which is utterly false. The reason (for existence) we get for the Black Nova corps is extremely disappointing , implausible and lacks any coherent sense.  By the time the new villain whips out what was supposedly Richard Rider’s helmet, I was cringing too bad to care. I went from quietly watching this series gain some direction to saying to myself  “Just end this mess!”. It was a disastrous issue.

I’m sure some of these can have nice “ret con” type explanations down the line, but this series has been plagued by a lack of answering any questions. Two years in and even simple things are unanswered. Nothing has been executed particularly well. Why should we trust this creative team to resolve this mess?

The little things continue to add up to deliver the unmistakable feel that the new writers just don’t give a shit about DnA, Marv Wolfman, Giffen or any of the 36 years prior Nova history. Heck, someone like Duggan could learn to write a better Nova series by just a couple of hours of fact checking on the Nova Prime Page! Could it get any easier for a potential Nova writer than to have a source like that? This book desperately needs a competent editor.

..the book continues to have the vibe that it just does not give a crap about the material that came before it. Doing something new is fine. You don’t need to shit on everything that came before in order to blaze your own trail. There are paltry and forced attempts to please core fans, but these are more like token and hollow “Easter Eggs” in a work that overflows with the arrogance of its own perceived importance.

I do tend to believe some fans are over reacting to the Nova Corps “committing mass suicide” in the cancerverse apparent continuity gaff/ line in this issue.

A./ it is plausible this could have happened after  The Thanos Imperative, IE “off Panel”.

B/ They were the words of an apparent criminal and villain and certainly possibly misconstrued or lies.

Again, I make excuses! These things could feasibly fit, but again, why should we have any trust that this is not just a goof?We have not got any answers so far, what makes us think this stuff is going to come full circle?

In the end, it really detracts from the work. Duggan has written some good stuff. His dialogue is generally well done and he has a good sense of humor in his writing. He has the potential to be a good (if not great) writer. I’ve seen it and acknowledged it.

But a lot of the stuff he does in this issue just fails to hit the mark. His “let’s use subterfuge” line to Rocket comes off clunky now , seeing as how Sam didn’t even know who the Statue of Liberty was. Not really believable.

The art here is the most manga -esque we have seen. I’m not a huge fan of the new guy. He’s got a similar style to Medina, but his Sam is even more gawky, tawny and young looking. It really exaggerates the fact we have a child running through space with a weapon of mass destruction…and honestly I don’t care for it . I don’t see myself ever fully accepting that child soldier motif.

Twenty issues in and I’m still not over the fact that Sam is so young. Its yet another thing that just taints the book…and seeing Rocket dive into some incredibly irresponsible behavior with Sam just keeps adding to the ridiculousness of it all. Eva Alexander, ignored for 10 issues, still comes off as incredibly bad and naive parent when that is clearly not the intention.

With the past few issues, it just effects my view on everyone around Sam tolerating his presence as well. I mean the Avengers and everyone else lose a lot of credibility not seeing how young this kid is…and it has been an issue in the Avengers before with characters like Rage and some of the other New Warriors…but Duggan and whoever the heck is editing this book (if that is what you want to call it) would actually have to know or read past marvel stories to realize any of that…and let’s not ask too much.

I mean, wasn’t Rocket and Gamora supposed to be in charge of training Sam? Whatever happened with that?! The book doesn’t even answer the continuity it creates itself!

The book was touted as good “all ages” fun but also wants to deal with blood soaked dads at the dinner table, alcoholism, struggling finances of single parents, foreclosures, dismembering tiger people, and a healthy crossover to an event specializing in mutilating corpses and playing with detached organs. Bravo. It’s been more focused then Bendis meandering GOTG, but not by much.

There are times when the values and messages this book are trying to send just seem like they are meant for the children and teens in the world of Matt Judge’s film Idiocracy. I keep expecting Sam and his mom Eva to start spraying Brawndo on their grass.

After the BRB arc, Duggan was on a  bit of a roll. He focused on putting some genuine emotion into the book and character building moments into Sam. He’s lost momentum here and his bad continuity and problems with the story are just becoming too much to be ignored. His roll has been derailed and I don’t have much room for forgiveness with this series.

As it stand now, this will be my final arc on the book if something does not get executed better. I’m a huge Nova supporter and really want to like this stuff. Pleasing me is not “Mission Impossible”. ..but the product needs to be better! I’m going to stay on through the cancerverse arc in GOTG and finish this “Jesse secrets” arc. The Halloween issue is looking like a good quitting point for me.

1.5/5 stars

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2 thoughts on “(Long) Review of Nova #19

  1. You have been by far the most optimistic and forgiving Nova fan that I have come across either on CBR or NovaPrimePage so reading this article has really made me realize how bad this issue was. I appreciate the thought put into this review how well you lay things out. This issue was easily the most disappointing by far and I was really hoping that the Black Novas would have been something cooler than “hackers” who wanted more power.

    If you ever want any help with the blog or facebook page let me know, I would love to help out.

    1. yeah agree! There is just this gestalt of marvel talent who, inspired by BMB, just dont seem to give a shit about what came before..i guess Duggan may be in that catagory

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