Comic Collection Monday #50: Nova #1 (1976)
In today's Comic Collection Monday, I’ll take a look at “Nova” #1 with a publication date of September 1976.
In Comic Collection Monday, I post the cover of a comic book from my collection, along with a brief note about the issue – what I thought about it, where I got it, whatever comes to mind. Spoilers are ahead if you haven’t read the issue in question.
The issue: The issue was written by Marv Wolfman, with art by John Buscema and Joe Sinnott.
In the first issue of “Nova,” labeled “The Man Called Nova” on the cover, we find out the hero who becomes Nova isn’t even legally speaking an adult.
In thie issue, Richard Rider, a 17-year-old Queens, N.Y. student, misses a key basketball shot, then goes to the ice cream shop where he’s hassled by a local bully. It doesn’t look to good for Rich, who is suddenly hit by an energy beam, which puts him in a coma. The beam was sent by Rhomann Dey, who is Nova Prime, a leader of the Nova Corps, a defense corps for the planet of Xandar. He had been gravely injured fighting an alien named Zorr. When Richard comes to, he finds the Nova powers have been transferred to him – he now has the power of flight, super-strength and near-invulnerability. He uses these powers to fight Zorr, who has followed him to Earth. When he can’t get the upper hand on Zorr, Dey tranfers Zorr back up to his ship, where both Dey and Zorr perish in battle. Meanwhile, Rich remains on Earth as the current bearer of the Nova powers.
If you recognize the name Rhomann Dey, it may be because it’s the name of the Nova Corpsman played by John C. Reilly in the “Guardians of the Galaxy” film.
The series feels a bit like a mashup of Green Lantern and Spider-Man; Comics Chronology reports the character is based on a fanzine character created by Wolfman called the Star, who was further tweaked by John Romita Sr.
How it got in my collection: I bought this issue in a package with about 20 other issues from the series when I was living in Dallas and interning at the Dallas Morning News. I bought it from a dealer who had a weekend shop with all sorts of odds and ends and wonders stacked in no particular order. I’d liked Richard Rider before, based on following his character in “New Warriors,” but I gained a new appreciation for the character’s early days when reading nearly the entire run a few years back. While it's certainly dated in places and can be clunky, if you can get into the Marvel 1970s vibe, it’s fun, Marvel-style heroics with a space flair. The character of Richard Rider was brought back for a well-reviewed run in the late 2000s.
Going on in the world: According to Mike’s Amazing World, this September-dated comic book would have gone on sale on June 15, 1976. The top show of the 1975-1976 TV season was “All in the Family.” The top film at the box office was “The Man Who Fell to Earth.” The top song on the Billboard hot 100 was “More, More, More” by The Andrea True Connection.