Future Nova Story Ideas: Rich Rider and the Avengers: The 800 pound Gorilla in the Room

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.

Great moment!

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.


5 thoughts on “Future Nova Story Ideas: Rich Rider and the Avengers: The 800 pound Gorilla in the Room

  1. The problem of Rich is that many saw him(and still do) as a shallow Green Lantern knock off, so i kind off see why he never received a big push. Heck his biggest role before Annihilation was his Short appearance in Infinity Gauntlet where he got Turned into a bunch of Lego bricks by Thanos.

    1. Sure that Green Lantern aspect will always be there. That origin and the association with a cosmic “Corps” is nothing to run away from. Wolfman had him as more of a Spider-man knock in reality though, which eventually merged into something unique. (growth does that, and it proves even unoriginal characters are worthwhile in the right hands)

      Let’s be honest though, a few of the characters of the 80s and late 70s Marvel did run with for Avengers membership were just as shallow knocks of other characters. From Wonder Man to Gilgamesh, even to Quasar, Moon Knight or Mockingbird, Rich Rider’s status as somewhat derivative would have been no big deal. In fact the word was Nova was planned for Avengers membership in the 80s, albeit the Nova would have been a “new” Nova following the Super-Nova arc.

      Also we have to mention the drama that went on with Marv Wolfman. He once sued for Nova’s rights and had all sorts of baby mama drama with Marvel. I’d guess that was a factor in this whole argument.

      Much like Firestorm (who I always see as his DC match despite the GL stuff) he was one of several Peter Parker rips of the 1970s. You see how DC treated Firestorm and it bears some relevance on this. I’ve talked about this before in older blogs, and I see some design concepts that resemble Firestorm (Ronnie Raymond) as well.

      Firestorm, after a rocky start was , at least prioritized by the company with some support…as a result, he was a fairly popular character in the 1980s circa “Super Powers” and his run on super friends Saturday morning cartoon. (he was often a POV character in that series) Firestorm and Nova had very similar comics. (I had the Firestrom action figure and it was one of my favorites) Both kinda nurtured a unique supporting cast and had a nice cosmic-light vibe to them, all the while featuring plenty of Parker-ish teenie weenie drama.

      It’s an interesting comparison, because after all that (speaking of Raymond’s JLA stints versus Rider’s non-Avengers membership), you could argue Rich had the more popular ongoing circa the DnA run than Firestorm could support at that time. In the end, all things considered they had very similar experiences.

      Aside from those, there was a lot of different dynamics that went into creating Rich. One of the strongest that attracted me was a kind of Kirby-esque fun to his look. Jack did a few of those early covers and did this notion no favors, as they were some of the worst Kirby covers on record. Of course, you see a bit of New Gods Orion in there with the bucket-head look.

      It also must be mentioned that Sam Alexander Nova is a real rip-off of the Jamie Reyes Blue Beetle. (who also had a great Kirby-esque look) I mean, this is perhaps thicker than anything. So many comparisons there.

      None of it really bothers me. I love a lot of comic rip offs. I despise others. What defines characters is their character and growth….and this is a long built up process. It’s why Rich Rider is great. At a minimum, Loveness and Perez (IMO) just added to his character.

      Looking forward to see where it goes next. Frankly, I’d rather see Rich Rider kick the Avengers ass than join them.

      1. I love the Avengers. I mean, love to the max. I just would love to see that story. Plus they’ve gotten decadent over the years….of course this has been the work of ambitious writers idealizing the Alan Moore-hero angst….but nevertheless those above stories touch on how cool that sort of moment can be.

        I guess the root of this was how arrogant Tony was during Civil War.

        My favorite Avengers teams since then were the early days of Hickman’s run, Slott’s Mighty, and Remender’s Uncanny.

        I thought Remender’s Uncanny had loads of potential, and it was sad to see it get abridged.

        Over the years Avengers and whats going on in that book under guys like Bendis developed into a bit of a microcosm for why I think Rich Rider Nova failed. So there is a bit of newfound acrimony on my part to the notion of Avengers as a flagship. (and as a moral flagship in the MU)

  2. I almost feel the absence of the avengers in the Annihilation arc was an attempt to make the character stand on his own, and in all reality I think it boosted the gotg quite a bit. A problem with a cosmic character is it often keeps him separate from the earth based characters, and if you had him based on earth it defeats the purpose of the Nova Core. Alexander gets the break because he’s still going to school so it makes sense.
    In all honestly I find myself avoiding avenger titles with the exception of tie-in’s and crossover events because they always seem so heavy-handed. Hell look at the list of Avenger members over the years, its tiring… I don’t know, maybe if they made a cosmic branch of the avengers and had them bounce back and forth? Or if the Nova corps depleted roster had been temporarily filled by avengers with a tie in arc? I definitely agree they didn’t offer him support or build any hype for him and it is truly sad in my opinion. I love your blog and am and will remain a Rider fan, Perhaps Alexander success could lead to a return of Rider, though it didn’t work the last run. Perhaps next time…

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