To put it simply, Rich Rider has Avengers issues. Passed over for membership for years, the subject was an awkward topic in the Nova lore.
In the early days Rich never got that big “team” like the Avengers shot like many young heroes did when booted up. When “Nova” finally did show up in Avengers, it was the deranged villain Garthaan-Saal, aka Super-Nova, and Rich Rider was not in the arc.
Rich had to see his two teammates Justice and Firestar get membership in the Avengers before him:
Flash forward years and years, to the Giffin/ DnA take on Nova and Annihilation conflict, and the vaunted Avengers left the United Front high and dry, save for a few players like Quasar and Moondragon (who were themselves somewhat estranged Avengers).
The big group sat that one out, and calls for help from Earth to assist with the threat of the wave were ignored.
Though there is a great What if? One-shot written by David Hine that touches on a United Front / Avengers Team-Up. (highly recommended) In that issue, Rich confronts Tony Stark in glorious fashion, providing a classic Rich Rider moment.
Rich eventually had this same moment in actual continuity in the DnA series, though it wasn’t as epic or frantic as that one-shot. Overall, Rich was the bigger man, and instead of really fighting Tony (who acted his typical ass self) Rich was mature and chose the higher road to put him in his place.
That’s no “Aw shucks” exchange or the smitten words of a man who was “pining away” for an invitation to join up with your little “alt rock band”.
The flarkin’ Avengers were largely absent during Conquest (despite fighting Ultron) and War of Kings as well, and though once more, a few players like Moondragon and Quasar, absent from thwarting the critical threat from the Cancerverse during Thanos Imperative. Let’s be honest, Rich has been repeatedly let down by the team.
Around this time, Rich was clearly a bit above the Avengers. I mean, he was leader of the United Front…so likely in charge of “millions” of troops and pan-galactic armies.
A few moments of clunky writing added to the mess. Though DnA was involved with the issue, Rich got his shot at Avengers membership (though “not really” according to Tom Brevoort) in the “Secret Avengers” issue “I am an Avenger” # 4” (Great pencils by Todd Nauck). Rich was still shown smitten with Captain America and the notion
Again, in the only arc of his Secret Avengers debut, Rich was mind-controlled and essentially served as the villain for the arc. And only by giving up his powers to Steve Rogers could the day be saved. It really sucked.
Then we go to Brian Bendis terrible death scene…. let’s forget this arc, but it is relevant to just touch on the fact that he had Rich, among many other out of character confessions , pine for his unfulfilled want of Avengers membership in his death throes.
Cancerverse trauma must have added to the issues; not only did Rich have to fight an evil , corrupted version of the Avengers, but, as we found out later, he was locked in the dimension, likely to be ripped apart and killed by them every day for “god knows” how long. That can’t be good.
Bottom line is Rich shouldn’t be too happy with the Avengers. Some sort of reckoning, on the scale of that What If ? issue would be in order.
BTW Let’s not kiss off some of the behind-the scenes drama with this topic outside of in-continuity issues;
Sam Alexander was given the Avengers status without batting an eye, which aggravated many old Nova fans. In some ways, I don’t blame Marvel or harbor much more ill will any more on this matter; they wanted to make the character work and they propped him up and supported him. That is the way you should do it, and should have been done with Rich in the first place back in the 70s. The subject, however, is one of those sore spots that really put the damper on whether Rich Rider had a fair shot as a character.
In short; this topic has loads of potential for all Novas and there is unfinished business between Rich Rider and the Avengers.