Writer: Jeph Loeb
Artist: Ed McGuinness
NOVA #1 comes with a lot of baggage, and rightfully so. Richard Rider has been the main character of the Nova series for quite some time and has gathered quite a following, especially when Abnett and Lanning took over the franchise. No use ignoring the elephant in the room, and why Marvel chose to bring in a new character instead of going with Richard is unknown.
However, none of that should detract from just how great this book is.
Jeph Loeb and Ed McGuinness both bring their best work in years to the title, and every page pops because of it. The new Nova (or soon to be rather) is a high school kid named Sam, whose main job these days seems to be taking care of his dad, Jesse. His father tells story after story of his time in the Nova corp, and while Sam doesn't seem to believe they are anything but the drunken delusions of a sad man, you get the impression that he wants to believe, but just can't bring himself to.
There are two things at work here. One is the wonderful character that Loeb has created in Sam. Unlike many teens in comics, tv, novels, etc, Sam isn't just a whiny angst ridden child. He's an intelligent, sometimes snarky kid who actually cares for his family, including his father. He's frustrated with the way things are, but never comes across as a brat. It is so refreshing to see, and hats off for avoiding the common "rebel who comes off as a total tool" troupe that plagues many teen characters (most final fantasy games say hi).
The second aspect that shines through is how Jesse is handled throughout. While he's a mess and at this point a shell of his former self--mostly due to drinking--Loeb does a wonderful job in conveying (without a ton of exposition) just how difficult it would be to adjust to everyday life from far reaching space travel. Jesse's time in the Nova Corp (at least supposed time) was full of covert ops and epic battles, things that don't happen to the everyday normal person. You go from stopping alien invasions to unstopping toilets and I guarantee it would be an adjustment. They make you sympathize with him, yet allow you to understand Sam's frustration, a balancing act that is not easy to maintain.
As for the art, it's gorgeous. The splash pages are intensely colorful and filled with bigger than life characters, but what impressed me most were the smaller scenes. Scenes like Jesse telling sleep time stories to Kaelynn. It's here where you see in the facial expressions alone just how much he loves his family, yet wishes his former life wasn't all so far in the past. Again, the art was superb in this book.
Its not Richard Rider, but I'll be damned if Sam doesn't have the potential to be just as good, just in a different way. Loeb and McGuinness knocked it out of the park, and you owe it to yourself to pick this issue up. It's fun, full of action, and yet is also chock full of the small character moments that make good comics great.
I'm not kidding, go get it.