The Man Called Nova # 1 – September 1976
Why I picked this comic: My previous post was on the dawn of the Silver Age, but as much as the Silver Age was kicked off by DC, this blog is called My Marvel Life, so we also need to look at the birth of the Marvel Age of Comics. The legend of the comic, where Martin Goodman told the dissatisfied Stan Lee to make a team of super-heroes to match DC’s Justice League. Stan wanted to quite, but his wife convinced him to try and write the comic he’d read and if it didn’t work, then quit. Taking the monster comics of the 1950’s and adding a super-hero flavour to it, enabled this epoch making creative team to produce something a little bit special. No Fantastic Four 1, no Marvel. There was no way that I wasn’t going to include this issue.
The Comic Itself:
Nova: written by Marv Wolfman with pencils by Sal Buscema and inks by Joe Sinnot.
Anxious teenager Rich Ryder is having enough problems between this social status in school and his large inferiority complex without his being zapped by fallen alien Rhomann Dey and given the powers of a Nova-Prime. The alien has done this, so someone will avenge his fallen homeworld, destroyed by the monstrous Zorr. Rich is comatose for a while then seems to make a full recovery and then later on develops the powers and uniform of Nova. He then finds Zorr, then battles him, but before there is a definitive end to the fight, Zorr is zapped away. We (as the readers) learn that it was the last act of Rhomann Dey, killing them both, but Rich learns nothing and is left with a number of questions, including, but not limited to what does he do now?
Question 1: Have you heard of this property before?
Yes I have.
Question 2: What were you expecting?
Flamboyance and based on the last comic I read for this, a lot more questions than answers.
Question 3: What did you think of the cover?
Bright and colourful
Question 4: What did you think of the story?
Very wordy, but okay. Very much okay.
Question 5: What did you think of the art?
Again, for it’s time it was fine. It wasn’t at all disappointing and didn’t take anything away from telling the story.
Question 6: What did you think of the dialogue?
Very wordy. The problem with Marvel is that they always use the bullied teenager trope, it does get a bit boring and I wasn’t too keen on Ginger Jaye (the girlfriend) doing the whole act like a real man bit. It felt written by a teenager, but was a lot smarter than the last two comics.
Question 7: Does it make sense?
……..(long pause) Yes and no, if you accept how ridiculous it is, with his getting powers and facing the bad guy and so on. But if you look into it even a little… I mean you only get the Nova-Prime’s side of the story. Is he the actual good guy here? Why did he choose this particular kid? Where does Rich get the idea he is a strong as ten men? Is that ten healthy men? Ten teenagers? Ten average men? They are all different levels. Why not 20 men if he’s making that up. Context people! So yes and no.
Question 8: Was it accessible as a new reader?
Yes, provided you can suspend your disbelief.
Question 9: Did you enjoy it?
……..(another long pause)….erm….it had a beginning, middle and end? So lets say yes.
Question 10: Would you read the next issue?
.mmmmmmmmmmmmm Oh god that’s a hard one. I want to say yes, but I can’t. I want to know more, but I don’t think that I wouldn’t be left with even more questions.
Question 11: What would you do differently?
Context people, context. There’s suspension is disbelief and there’s narrative cohesion and you need both. Also if he does have all the problems (low self esteem, clear anxiety issues and a self diagnosed inferiority complex) how does he pull it together so fast at the end?
Next time: We go through the fourth wall to learn it ain’t easy being green.