Friday, August 13, 2010
70's comic books: Nova
THE MAN CALLED NOVA # 7
“War in Space!”
Marv Wolfman “thunked it up!”
Sal Buscema and Frank Giacoia “drew it up right purty!”
Michele W. “colored it up chromatically”
J. Costanza “was forced to letter it up!”
The Terrible Trio of Diamondhead, Powerhouse, and the Condor have captured Nova---or is it the other way around! Their effort to reprogram the hero to work for them in their assault on “the Dreaded One” results in Nova taking over the gang, meeting a rough challenge from Diamondhead for dominancy. The Condor decides to leverage the situation rather than fight, and get what he wants. Powerhouse meanwhile begins to see objectively how the Condor manipulates without scruples.
The Condor relates for Nova the tale of the Sphinx, his origin as a banished wizard of Pharaoh’s court during the time of Moses. Just as in the book of Exodus, Aaron transforms his staff into a serpent, and the wizards of the Egyptian court follow suit; Aaron’s serpent devours the rest. The Pharaoh’s heart is callous towards the Israeli slaves, and ten plagues ravage the land, leading to the wizard’s exile.
Ninety years, he crawls the desert, he does! At the bleakest point he finds a temple, and within its emerald gates---the flaming Ka, the Spirit Stone, which speaks to him. He affixes it to his brow in the manner of a crown, and so is born the powerful Sphinx, who walks the Earth 5,000 years!
He seems to have threaded through history and her wars, through legend. Now, the Condor says, the Sphinx has come to this country to become Lord of Crime!
The Sphinx spies this tableau from afar (upstate New York) and concludes it contains much truth. His ambition, however, is to become Emperor of the World! (Emperor of Ice Cream isn’t good enough for some people.) He’s interrupted by reported treachery, which leads to the traitor converted to ashes. He curses the ‘menials’ that beset his efforts, but the robed Sayge, he of the hidden face of terror, addresses his true desire: the unanswerable question. Does this face contain the truth of Sphinx’s fate? Though he professes a fear of nothing, Sayge mocks his anticipation and concern for the war to come.
The Condor has Nova busy helping them steal one remaining part required by his craft to reach Nova’s orbiting ship. Nova’s mayhem dismays security, who recognize the young hero in confusion. Reveling in his might, Nova is goaded into ripping out a safe and battling a robot guard, as Condor anticipates the moment the programming reverts and his slave is lost. When that moment arrives at the Long Island North Shore Condor’s Roost, the wary villain commands Powerhouse to drain Nova once more, so that they might attempt the programming again. Now, however, Powerhouse observes Nova’s fate with questions about how it is the Condor controls him, too!
The crew breaks through the gravitational pull and approaches the Nova Prime ship. Condor deflects Diamondhead’s questions about his personal life and means, against angry demands. Nova says Condor is their trusted ally and Diamondhead decides to toe the line and pick his fight against them both.
So how, asks Powerhouse, will they find Nova’s invisible ship? Condor relies on his analysis of Nova earlier; he replies Nova’s helmet has special lenses capable of picking up all light waves, including the deflection around the ship. He sprays them with a temporary breathable atmosphere. To his surprise, the star on Nova’s helmet fires a beam that acts as a key to enter the ship, and all are awed by its colossal size and advanced technology. The empty costume on the floor (dating to Zorr’s defeat by Nova Prime in #1) starts to jog Nova’s memory. The group begins searching for hi-tech weaponry.
While the Sphinx decides he’s underestimated his foe and must not let the four of them leave the ship alive, he departs to regenerate his mental energies in alignment with the Ka Stone, while his lackey Kur plots his take-over in the event of the Sphinx’s demise, but fearsome Sayge taunts him further.
A gut feeling leads Nova to the weapons-room, unknowingly activating an intruder alert. The observing Sphinx is satisfied the ship’s defenses will finish them. “Six chrome steel sentries spark to life” and challenge the criminal crew, but with Nova’s aid they are spectacularly finished. Condor prepares to steal the computer recordings for further analysis.
The pieces of the robots reform into a mechanoid monster with tentacles, inspiring the rowdier Nova and Diamondhead to fight, while the battling Powerhouse wishes only to depart the ship. The laser attack on all of them begins overloading Powerhouse; Condor saves his life and manipulates his destruction of the security doors to the data base at once. He demands Diamondhead stand down, for if Powerhouse doesn’t release his energies a deadly explosion will ensue.
Successful, Powerhouse privately ponders how he once again owes Condor his life”...but...” He interrupts his thoughts to exclaim the alien weapons look somehow familiar. The fading reprogramming catches Condor’s notice---too late to avoid Nova, now himself again. The three battle fiercely, but Powerhouse refuses to be drawn in, to be badgered by Condor again. This doesn’t solve Nova’s immediate problem, but he begins recovering from their blows and beams. With the oxygen spray wearing off, the Condor has no plans to stay there, and while escaping, leaves Nova with a final trap. His own enigmatic ship shuts him inside, and blasts off for some unknown trajectory into “the other side of the universe!”