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Retro Recap: 'Nova by Abnett & Lanning: Complete Vol. 2' -- What you need to know

Comic Books

Retro Recap: ‘Nova by Abnett & Lanning: Complete Vol. 2’ — What you need to know

Nova will pop up in the Marvel movies sooner rather than later, so get primed on the character here.

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It’s not a stretch to think Nova will factor into the third phase of Marvel Studios’ plans. We already know they’re looking to the stars, that Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 will kick things off, and the Nova Corps exist already. It’s just a matter of time before Richard Rider suits up. That’s why reading Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning’s run on the series is important. Getting a sense of their vision will dictate what we see in the films soon just like Guardians did before. Here’s what you need to know from this second massive collection.

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What is in this collection?

This book collects Nova #16 to #36 and I Am An Avenger #3. It runs a whopping 500 pages, making this an ideal afternoon read.

What do I need to know?

Richard Rider is the only Nova in existence after the Annihilation War reduced the Nova Corps to nothing. The cosmic side of the Marvel universe is in its prime after that event, which puts this collection in a good place to integrate new ideas and direction for Nova and the cosmic super police.

Retro Recap: 'Nova by Abnett & Lanning: Complete Vol. 2' -- What you need to know

Nova and Quasar kicking Skrull butts.
Credit: Marvel Comics

Secret Invasion brings Nova home

This book opens with Nova surveying a planet recently attacked. Soon he finds himself fighting Skrulls, all while directing his helmet’s powers himself. The Worldmind is a sentient supercomputer now damaged after being hidden away in Richard’s head. This leads to a tricky battle that requires the help of Skrull Kl’rt aka Super Skrull to help. Now that Marvel owns Fantastic Four, this villain will be popping up undoubtedly in the films. He’ll most likely be villainous, but seeing him turn tail on his people is an interesting development. This leads to a few surprises after Kl’rt informs Nova the Skrulls are attacking Earth en masse. Since Captain Marvel is fighting off the Skrulls on Earth, one might imagine Nova may be popping up in that scuffle. Abnett and Lanning do a great job showing off the amazing powers of Nova in the following battle scenes which weave in a now recuperated Worldmind.

Retro Recap: 'Nova by Abnett & Lanning: Complete Vol. 2' -- What you need to know

Does Worldmind, and Ego for that matter, look anything like heroes?
Credit: Marvel Comics

The Worldmind gets rebooted and causes havoc

The Worldmind is an interesting artificial intelligence not unlike Tony Stark’s computer system. This computer was connected to the hive mind of the Nova Corps, making it far smarter and more resilient until most of them died. In this book, the Worldmind is awakened and it seems to have broken away from being Nova’s friend so as to preserve the Nova Corps. The middle portion of this book is devoted to Worldmind growing the Corps and in a shocking move combining itself with Ego, the living planet. This is similar to the Green Lantern Corps who have their headquarters in a giant living world as well. The problem is Ego is very evil and soon Worldmind turns.

In an exciting portion, Nova is made to believe he’s gone insane by simply harboring Worldmind for too long. Mr. Fantastic even agrees he should do what Worldmind says. Worldmind is of course not to be trusted, seeing as it has unethically downloaded itself into Ego. Nova does the right thing and follows his gut which ultimately saves the Nova Corps, but also Worldmind. Abnett and Lanning explore a superhero situation that’s all internal and forces the hero to make decisions that are counter to even the greatest heroic minds. Thanks to Worldmind losing its wits, real people newly recruited to the Nova Corps die, too. It’s a harrowing sequence and one I expect Marvel to replicate in the films.

Retro Recap: 'Nova by Abnett & Lanning: Complete Vol. 2' -- What you need to know

I never knew Richard Rider was Quasar, until now!
Credit: Marvel Comics

Quasar, Darkhawk, and more populate the story

Did you know Richard Rider actually became Quasar at one point? In this collection, Worldmind takes away Rider’s Nova powers, which in turn means death without the powers keeping his human body alive. Seeing Rider wield the Quantum Bands is pretty damn cool and it allows him to fight Worldmind and gain a new position amongst the Nova Corps. It gets personal in this battle too since Rider’s brother is a newly minted Nova member.

In the last third of this book, Nova (now dubbed Nova Prime) leads a small faction of Nova Corps members which leads to finding long lost Nova Corps, bringing back his love and ex-teammate Namorita, and having to contend with space mercenary Monark Starstalker while fighting a revigorated Ego and an Egyptian god. The latter adversary, Sphinx, is a fun blast from the past and a character many might liken to Apocalypse. Throw into the mix Darkhawk who helps fight off the Skrulls only later to be hunted by Nova and you can see this book captures the wide variety of rich characters in the Marvel cosmic universe.

How does it hold up?

The first two-thirds of this book are quite entertaining. Nova must fight for Earth, then fight for his sanity, and eventually reclaim his role as the greatest Nova ever. Lanning and Abnett push Richard Rider in interesting ways and flesh out interesting corners of the universe. The last third gets a bit muddled with various characters popping in as well as obscure references to previous stories.

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The art can at times be great, especially in the opening chapters by Wellinton Alves and Geraldo Borges. Andrea Di Vito and Todd Nauck bring their customary great work too. Mahmud Asrar, who has been exceptional in recent years at Marvel, draws the last two chapters in this book and they look half-baked. The detailing isn’t there and his style is still developing. Overall the art is good, but it’s clearly not the same quality you see in books today, 11 years later.

In conclusion

This book captures a wide net of rich cosmic characters in the Marvel universe. It’s worth reading to see the crazy heroes journey Richard Rider goes through and it captures a struggle that is most definitely going to be coming to the big screens soon. Nova is an exceptional character and this collection, along with volume 1, is proof of that.

Retro Recap: 'Nova by Abnett & Lanning: Complete Vol. 2' -- What you need to know
Nova by Abnett & Lanning: The Complete Collection Vol. 2
Is it good?
A strong collection thanks to some wickedly epic story arcs.
The first two story arcs push Richard in new and exciting ways
A lot of cool cosmic characters pop up
The Worldmind is a fascinating element that gets all kinds of evil with Ego thrown into the mix
The last third can get dicey in quality of art and the story is a bit all over the place

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