Monday, November 1, 2010

What if this is my favorite issue of Nova?

Mmm...this one looks like it’s got Spider-Man! Art: Andru / Giacoia Story: Marv Wolfman

What If? #15, part two


In particular, it’s got Peter Parker. He’s attending a science exhibition of the crazy controlled radioactive ray variety, and from the glasses, he must be in high school. Once again, a spider has an unexpected role, and ”accidentally absorbs a fantastic amount of radioactivity...It bites the nearest living thing at the split second before live ebbs from its radioactive body...

Why this time does overwhelming pain grip Peter Parker? Why did his hand glow? On this world, the bite contains too much radioactivity. This time, the visit ends in an ambulance ride. Only a radioactive control unit from Stark Industries can give Peter a chance. His Uncle Ben rushes with Aunt May, who responds to the awful news with a heart attack. Her weak-hearted, unconscious body is wheeled into the emergency award, in the presence of the best doctors on call.
Ben Parker, old, weary, prays.

So, no quick recovery and discovery of spider powers. Instead, Peter Parker writhes in radiation poison pain. It’s Ben’s story right now, with his two most beloved lives in balance.

Peter he hears, lives, but may never walk again. May, however, dies, leaving crippled Peter Parker feeling cursed. He continues his melodramatic malaise in shunning Betty.

Professor Warren warns Peter about his morose turn towards constant lab work. He leaves the youth alone, observing it’s Peter’s emotions, not his legs, that are crippled.

Then---the bolt from seeming nowhere!

In full costume, he finds himself standing. He finds himself, in fact, a Human Rocket! He’s excited about testing his new powers and decides to look up Uncle Ben for wisdom. A burglar in his house, however, holds Ben’s life in balance. Nova smashes through the wall; the bullet deflects off his body, ---oh, and then it hit HIM, the very man who fired it.




The burglar’s death weighs heavily upon Peter; Ben tells him not to berate himself. He reports the incident, confessing it as a “murder.” He will face it in court. He’s stunned by the way his life seems to destroy those it touches. He dumps the suit into the garbage, foreswearing the powers. “He has held the gift..and he has forsaken it. But which will suffer more: the troubled world around him, or the lonely, embittered youth named Peter Parker?”

I liked this one from the very beginning. NOW where will they take it?
This is the last one: the deceased Nova Ship has become property of Victor Von Doom! Inside we find the Red skull and the Sphinx, talking with the villain who has become Nova! He criticises the bickering of Doom and Skull and the stone faced inaction of the Sphinx, who still dwells with ennui.

Nova’s got a strong voice here:
He shows a screen on Computer Prime, and describes how they used it to search out and exterminate all heroes and defenses at their weakest. Nova insists he is still the inheritor and organizer of the group. Skull decides to toast boisterous, evil Nova, and their treacherous aliance.

In his chambers, scheming, raving Doom’s ego forces his hand; Nova’s sense of ease and confidence is falsely footed, for Doom, in terrific Doom dialogue. Now they’re going to end up destroying each other. Doom still expects his fealty, but Nova insists being boss belongs to him! Wait, who’s attacking? Is Doom dead?


The Red Skull plays his hand now, and he works with no one. Out of countless millions, Nova states, was he chosen; “that, is Destiny.” Skull brushes aside these words, but not the force of the Sphinx---first directed at Nova, then the Skull, with more great dialogue, and then, both have fallen to the Sphinx, who has sought only death until his mystery is solved.

Here’s the Computer Prime illustration about his search: isn’t it awesome? He wants death but doesn’t know where to get it. But his instincts have failed him; the only one with the answers is gone. The ashes at his feet are all that remains of the Man Called Nova.

So we’ve watched with the Watcher; shared his destiny and curse. Nice.


Did the story in What If actually get BETTER? The last two were my favorites!!! I like how they used the spider bite, but that’s not what gave him his power...and they took Peter’s bitterness to the nth degree, and let it be his defining characteristic, with his misplaced guilt...teaching us a little something about the decisions and how closely Peter always walks with a misunderstanding that could eclipse the heroism he chooses instead, come what may. Oh, man, and wasn’t that conflict aboard Nova Prime Ship something?

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Professor Warren: driven by his bitterness in “our” world as a super-villain, in role reversal here, warning him about that bitterness. Bravo, Marv Wolfman.

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