Thursday, August 12, 2010

A classic character who deserved a Saturday Morning Cartoon

Writer, Editor, Creator: Marv Wolfman
Art: Sal Buscema and Tom Palmer
Letters: Joe Rosen
Colors: Mary Severin
Poor Bullethead: his enemy’s enemy is not his friend at all, but most of his enemies are friends.
“And so...that’s right, Bob...the Sphinx!”
The first time I ever saw Nova’s image was probably as a kind of chess piece/ fetish such as the one on the table before the Sphinx. Whereas in openings we’ve seen Condor scheming and Diamondhead lashing out, the Sphinx is cool, remote, certain of his control, surely as the NOVA pawn in his fingers, amidst figures of those self-same villains, as well as the uncertain Powerhouse. What he gave on eBay for them is never disclosed; presumably a Latverian company commissions Bowen for them. They help him focus on the war of individual powers to come. He angrily swats away the treacherous Kur, an underling who offers hollow praise to one who is certain and used to worship. He then calls upon the one man whose face fills him with fear, Sayge, to see into the twistings of Fate through his vapors. You see, he is aware of beauty all around them in creation, yet feels it is his fate, his purpose, to crush it with corruption. Whereas the Sphinx of myth plagued the travelers of Greece with a riddle and terror, for this Sphinx, he is plagued by a final question.
Nova goes into action against a gang of robbers, still hoping for some recognition but expecting to be panned for the robbery itself. As Richard Rider, he reassures Bernie they will find their missing friend Roger, a.k.a. Caps. After all, Rich is secretly the Human Rocket!
Caps fares none too well, tied to a sewer pipe as its waters lap his knees. He questions his accuser, who angrily implicates Caps in attempted murder. He refers to Caps as “old friend” and Caps seems to understand what he’s talking about and who he truly is; the history between them involves an accident. Angrily shedding his hat and coat, the accuser reveals himself to be faceless, that is, with an inhumanly blank countenance. (This condition is shared with an incidental antagonist of Dracula over in TOMB, not a year before; there it is given the horror one imagines of such a disfigurement.) He bid Roger goodbye and leaves Caps bound to face the rising water.
Two weeks before, it's the close of NOVA #3, and Diamondhead and Condor in shadows watch Nova fly away. Condor convinces Diamondhead to strike another time.

At present they begin a planned, synchronized assault on the hospital, Nassau General, holding Powerhouse. They terrorize everyone while freeing him from the Absoraron which holds his own siphoning powers in check. Good ol' Mom's request for officers at Nassau General crosses Nova's receiver, and he congratulates himself on being a super-hero whose mom is a civilian dispatcher!

Upon his arrival he spots Condor, but this time his visor is not quick enough to protect him from a planned gas defense, leaving him unconscious in the clutches of Diamondhead.

Back at the Condor's Roost,
Condor reasserts his violent dominance over Powerhouse. We see Nova "in the grip of my computers", as Condor continues bullying Powerhouse and reminding him of the people he murdered without remembering, a byproduct of his deadly powers.

An analysis tells them Nova's secrets and more about his own powers than perhaps even he himself knows. Powerhouse lashes out at last against Condor, and in the chaos, Nova frees himself and the battle is on! In the process, Nova's thoughts drift towards understanding the mysterious hold Condor has over Powerhouse.

Powerhouse makes the difference in the continuing struggle, though as he fells Nova, he feels and voices great remorse.
Nova is bound to what is revealed to be a mind-programming device, all in the scheme to use him and his ship to face the Dreaded One, who we now know to be the Sphinx, observing the die being cast from afar as the game begins.

They begin with the erasure of Nova's mind. They expect a blank slate for their corruption, however temporarily. Mom, Dad and Ginger cross his lips as he awakens groggily, but these connections to decency evaporate. The one time Condor voices apparent concern, he finds himself victim of a brutal belting. Indeed, the computers have worked, but Nova's freed will power and natural antipathy for the Condor and his gang empowers his decision that HE is the boss of this gang!

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