Bombs Away!: Nova #3 (REVIEW)
Writers: Jeff Loveness & Ramon Perez
Artist: Ramon Perez
Color Artist: Ian Herring
This was the toughest issue for me to score this week. If I had been making my decision based solely on the second half of the issue, it would have been higher. As it stands, it took me quite a few pages for me to get into this story, which is done in a starkly stylistic contrast to the previous Sam Alexander runs. That's not the cause of my lukewarm uptake of the first half of issue #3, though. Let's just run through it the usual way.
Nova #3 picks up at the tail end of a fight with some Chitauri, a tiger, and a robot. It's a bit Wizard of Oz-ish. Same and Rich have been taken down. Not to be done in, however, due to the timely arrival of the elder Nova's dog companion, Cosmo. The dog also has the convenience of being telepathic, which serves to help Rich and Sam get out of this particular sticky wicket in more ways than one. Richard continues to mentor Sam on what it means to be a Nova. Sam is asked to push himself harder than ever before. The question for the reader to find out is whether or not he answers the call.
Midway through this book, I started to loose a bit of interest. One reason was Ramon's art, which is fine, but maybe just not for me. And Herring's color palette just felt very bland. In my mind, I think of the Nova's as filling the purpose of being Marvel's Green Lantern mirror-character. And of course, the special treatment you get in a Green Lantern book is eye-popping colors, running the entire spectrum. I really wanted to see the gold on the Nova armor pop more, and for the black of the Sam's costume to be as deep as could be. Detailing and line edges were very light and it made me lament the slowly expanding death of the inker in comic book art. And once the Nova's take their helmets off, the faces were disappointingly in the cartoony end of the range. I will readily admit, part of the disadvantage here might be that the first two books in my randomized read order this week featured art by Mike Del Mundo and Will Conrad. So that's a thing.
What saves this issue is the uptick that occurs at about the halfway point and kicks into a fevered pitch in the bottom third. I will say that throughout the issue, there is a healthy amount of fighting. You certainly cannot say that this is a talking heads book. There is a major reveal on page 14 of 21 (in digital format), though, that made me almost drop my iPad. And from there the issue just skyrockets. There is a bro love dialogue between Sam and Rich, with the latter trying to amp him up to do the impossible. Rich also at one point tells Sam that he is the more powerful Nova. The story evokes a clear re-definition of these two's short-lived relationship; that Rich feels like he is already lost, and his primary job is to ensure the further training and mentorship of Sam in order to ensure the propagation of the legacy. Finally, we close out with Rich telling Sam to pack his bags and prep to depart on a trip for Rich to see Gamora. A storyline that is sure keep Marvel Cosmic fans on and maybe even encourage some others aboard.
It took me a bit of time to warm up to this issue. The opening felt very dry and predictable. Of course, regardless of story, it is great to see Rich Rider back and I love the dynamic of him coaching Sam. It seems Marvel is well poised with the recent reboots to have a really effective Marvel Cosmic event this year, maybe over the summer. Nova would obviously be a big part of that. And it is nice that Rider is back, but I worry that his time here may be short. Best enjoy it while you can, Nova fans. This is a fine place to jump on, as it is mostly fighting and you need not worry too much about the back issues if you are at least tangentially familiar with the Nova lore and can read Wikipedia. This issue almost took a header. Nice to see the creative team pull it together at the end.
SCORE 7.5 / 10.0
This issue could have gone bad. Or at least come off as very tepid. But a major reveal midway through the book and some on-point fighting sequences lead me to be a bit more forgiving. This story wraps up solidly and sets up well for the next adventure. And the relationship between Rich and Sam is becoming a thing to be admired in super-hero storytelling. Props to Perez for some innovative panel layouts, too.