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From the Hoss’ Mouth 04/11/07

Another Wednesday another fat stack of comics.  This week I do my best in dissecting Nova, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern Corps, The Loners, Wolverine Origins, The Trials of Shazam, and a whole lot more.  Also in a nice coincidental twist, Simmo provides us with a great overview of the essential Nova collection.

Full Review:

Nova #1
Writers: Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning
Pencils: Sean Chen

You know what’s great about modern comics and in particular their audience?  Short attention spans.  I’m of the opinion that the vast majority of all comic readers are just like the vast majority of everyone else I run into.  Meaning they require and crave instant gratification.  If you don’t immediately wow them, well then you’ll lose them.  Case in point being Nova #1, a book that understands its audience and delivers from panel one.

No contrived or pretentious starts here, just straight action that doesn’t let up throughout the whole issue.  I appreciate these sort of exciting starts because not only are they entertaining but they give me a reason to pick up issue 2 without worrying if the series is going to actually go somewhere… because it already has.

Nova, still the last of the Nova Corps, has an entire backlog of universal disasters to attend to with only the worldmind for help.  I already sense that the rebuilding of the Nova Corps will be a continuing theme of this series but for now we’ll just have to be content with ole’ Rich.  Nova maintains the bravado and leadership skills he acquired at the end of Annihilation and he still has his stubbornness as well.  Eager to take on the whole of the universe’s burdens, his one man mission is becoming too great a task even for the bearer of the full Nova force.  Which brings us to another theme of this series, Nova despite his energy and power is still just a man, and as a man he begins to break down under the stress of being the universe’s sole source of disaster relief.  The worldmind and it’s constantly nagging sense of self preservation plays a great counter to Nova’s overzealous attitude and I really enjoyed the banter between the two.

As for the whole of the plot it’s a race to save as many lives as possible as Nova zips from one trouble spot to the next.  Not only is he racing against the destructive forces themselves but he’s also racing against his own deterioration.  The worldmind provides a limited source of comedic relief and I actually really enjoy the worldmind’s approach to narrative translation.  Fun stuff with lots of action and just a touch of drama between Rich and the worldmind.

The art’s really nice, having not seen a preview for this book I was pleasantly surprised by the work Chen did on the interiors.

Verdict: Any fan of Annihilation or Nova will not want to miss this book.  I also suspect that the rest of you will enjoy its fast paced excitement as well.  Lastly, you will not need to have read Annihilation to understand the ins and outs, there’s enough details present in the context to keep cosmic newbies out of the dark so don’t be afraid to try something new.

Quick Reviews:

Wonder Woman #7: I like what Picoult’s doing with this one.  Her first issue made me a bit weary but here she picks up steam and develops Wonder Woman a bit more to my liking.  Nemesis also receives further development and gets a few nice comedic lines in.  I’m still somewhat hesitant to accept Wonder Woman’s “need” for a partner, but I like Nemesis’ offbeat style and it’s nice to have the damsel in distress concept see some role reversal.  Nice book, decent art.

Verdict: Now that WW’s regular again, this issue is a great time to jump on and get reacquainted with the book before Gail Simone takes over.

The Loners #1: This book turned out to be pretty fun.  It’s hard to tell but this first issue seems like the series won’t be having a large impact on the Marvel U, but if you’re a fan of the characters within I think you’ll enjoy their reemergence.  The book also provides a new perspective n registration.  We’ve seen heroes struggle with registration, but with the exception of Firestar, there hasn’t been any time devoted to those heroes who registration forces to quit.  That’s where issue one takes us as a group of superheroes struggle to lose their super identities and regain civilian ones.  As these things often have a way of doing, packing up the tights just isn’t so easy and that’s where the real conflict of this issue begins.

Verdict: The lack of A-listers and event tie-ins make it passable for those just looking for big bang excitement, but for those of you out there looking for a fun book with offbeat heroes I highly recommend The Loners.

Green Lantern Corps #11: In my opinion all the Lantern books have been incredibly great as of late.  With GLC we get a solid story with a lot of developing undertones for the upcoming Sinestro Corps storyline.  There’s a whole lot of mystery going down in space and the Guardians just aren’t willing to share.  This issue sees the corruption of Kilowog, the murder of two Lanterns, more of the Guardians deceptive secrets, and the further development of the Lantern team of Soranik and Iolande (and I really like this Lantern team). 

Verdict: A great book that’s been getting better and better with every issue.
The Loser(s) of the Week:

Wolverine Origins #13: Attention Marvel, your continued abuse of Wolverine by revealing his origin, giving him a clone, and now a son is doing nothing but cheapening the character.  He has no mystery left.  I know he’s a popular character and I know these shock for the sake of shock stories net big bucks but in the long term I firmly believe you’re going to ruin him by continuing to put out crap like Origins.  Please, just stop already.  Art’s still bad too.

Trials of Shazam #6: Speaking of ruining characters.  Winnick on Green Arrow is acceptable. Winnick on Shazam is not.  Captain Marvel does not need to be reimagined or replaced, he’s still completely workable as character if you give him a chance and try a more classic approach in development.  Just read Jeff Smith’s Shazam and the Monster Society of Evil and you’ll see my point.

Trade Off:
By Simmo

Essential Nova!

Plot: The beginnings of one of Marvel’s favourite B-List Heroes!!! Richard Rider really is the everyman teenage character…and possibly has even less going for him than a certain wall-crawling hero did! He’s failing high school maths, he’s pushed around by the school bully, and in the very first page of his very first issue, Rich Rider loses the game for his high-school basketball team – to a team of girls no less!!! But when a dying space traveller decides that Rich is worthy, he bequeathes the powers of the Nova Force on Rider, and a new hero is born! Nova’s early adventures include team-ups with Spider-Man (naturally), Thor and The Thing. He battles with the Sphinx, the Sandman, and the dubious Yellow Claw. All while learning what it means to be a hero!!

Essential Nova (May 2006) reprints the entire run of the original Nova series, first published in 1976. Amazing Spider-Man #171 and Marvel Two-In-One Annual #3 are also included. The bulk of the writing is done by the much under-appreciated Marv Wolfman, and the art is handled by Sal Buscema and then Carmine Infantino.
With the resurgence in popularity Nova is experiencing these days thanks to Annihilation, this is a great look back at the beginnings of a potentially iconic character.
If you miss the sense of awe and wonder comics used to provoke, and tire of the gritty tone of today, Nova is a book for you. There’s a nice supporting cast, the art is clear to follow, and the action sequences are fluid and punchy.
It’s black and white, like all Essential volumes, but for $17 you get 27 issues of retro fun.
One drawback warning though: while the volume reprints up to the final issue of Nova, the storyline is concluded in Fantastic Four issues which are not reprinted. It’s a shame, and I can imagine that a casual buyer would feel pretty miffed that Nova’s saga is not concluded in the book.

-Simple comic book fun. Wolfman moves the book along at a cracker of a pace.
-The artwork is absolutely as clear as a bell. It’s not flashy, but very neat.
-Nova is a solid character who is possibly even easier to feel empathy for than Peter  Parker.
-Some out there villains who you may never see again.  Cower at the Condor! Deride Diamondhead! Sphuffer at the hands of the Sphinx!
-The price point: Less than a buck a book is good value for anybody!

-The exclusion of the FF stories to finish the first era of Nova. Such a shame.
-It’s cheap and black & white. You don’t get the full feel of a 70’s comic without colour.
-The stories may be overly simple for some…but I like ’em!

Rating: A solid "B"

Roundup (everything else this week):

The Must Buys:
Teen Titans – Geoff johns will not disappoint with this title
B.P.R.D. – No reason exists for why you shouldn’t be reading this series.
She-Hulk – A fun comic that stays relevant without taking itself too seriously.
52 – I love Chang Tzu’s Science Squad.
Iron Man – This title has been great since its inception and this issue is no different.

The worth a look:
Tales of the Unexpected – The Spectre story is lagging, but the Dr. 13 story with its great meta approach is a lot of fun.
Uncanny X-Men – Only one issue left to wrap all this up and it’s got to be a doozy to address all the plot lines left open.
Thunderbolts – I like this series a lot so far, but I’d like to see the team tackle an A-list hero or two.
Ghost Rider – Average story with great art.
The New Avengers – I’d like this story a lot more if an explanation was given to why Dr. Strange can’t teleport to Japan.  The Iron Fist side plot is really great.
New X-Men – Background and setup for the next big arc, confusing in parts yet still entertaining.
Punisher War Journal – I really dig Olivetti’s art and between this and Iron Fist, I’m becoming a big fan of Matt Fraction as well.
Green Arrow – A nice twist midway through this story goes a long way towards making this book very interesting despite it’s lack of action.

Discuss these reviews here.