Saturday, August 14, 2010

Funky Times and Super Hang-Ups

1976 music


“When Megaman comes calling—don’t answer!”

Writer, Editor, Creator: Marv Wolfman
Art: Sal Buscema and Frank Giacoia
Letters: Joe Rosen
Colors: Marv Wolfman

About 100, 000 miles from home, all Nova can do is watch the Condor, Diamondhead and Powerhouse escape as his programmed ship blasts off for the outer reaches of space. Overcoming his reflex to despair, Nova realizes that if Condor reset the controls, he can, too---with the knowledge of a star pilot, that is! He discovers the Zorr remains (from #1), confirming he’s aboard the original Nova ship. His question, spoken aloud, activates and automated intelligence, Computer Prime, addressing him as New Nova-Prime. A hologram shows the fate of Zorr.

Histories are maintained through “bio-circuits,” the wondrous minds of previous Centurion-Novas. A little objective data and a hologram of the previous Nova-Prime appears, mentioning the destruction of his family in Zorr’s primary attack. The ship also answers as to the whereabouts and activities of the Terrible Trio that have abandoned Nova and now assault the Sphinx’s headquarters. He asks about his dad, who he sees him standing up to P.T.A. members over some unspecified rule change, regardless of consequences. This creates great empathy in Richard Rider for his father’s situation, which he keeps “bottled up inside.”

Now he recalls the missing “Caps,” Roger Cooper. Nova reacts with shock: the hologram shows Caps near drowning. “Prime, how do I get to Earth FAST?” From the time he reaches the suggested space cruiser landing module, Prime re-establishes previous orbit in 2.6 seconds; he can set the automatic controls. Nova’s delight for his new super-scientific friendship/ resource is short lived: as he enters our atmosphere he is told that communication to the ground from space and control of the ship is impossible. The cruiser is also destined to burn up in re-entry.

Flying safely under his own power, Nova accepts the lost possible opportunity and gets to the business of saving Caps according to map coordinates. Brushing thoughts of failure aside, he tears the ropes loose from the drowning youth. He uses the pipe as a rough drill bit, overcoming his own negativity and lack of experience to continue his tunnel, even as water fills behind him. They’ve made it! He calls Caps by his nickname twice, leading Caps to ask who he is. Nova plays it off facetiously, evading the confession. He cops to being Richard Rider’s friend and asks how this predicament began, but the exhausted boy has no answers yet. The time to switch identities speedily in the back of the house and wait for Caps to come inside.

Starved for two days, Caps rests as Bernie Dillon enters, cracking wise but concerned. Now Caps begins telling what really happened to him, starting with a camping trip he’d taken six months before with his Uncle Nathan. “Caps, the police said what happened then was an accident,” Richie says, but Caps insists his uncle believed he tried to kill him. Curiosity drew both of them to a glowing cave; inside, a lake glows with a strange cold, black as pitch but glowing red. Uncle Nathan falls in, and cries out that he’s burning. Flames manifest, preventing Caps from reaching him. Caps begs him to hang on while he finds some rope in their packs; “I can’t!” Caps flees, Uncle Nathan’s terrified screams following all the way:

“I’m burning all over! Don’t Desert Me! Dooonnn’ttt!” Upon return, Uncle Nathan was not found, and the police ruled the incident an accident.
Recently, kidnapping his nephew, Uncle Nathan has returned, to tell what happened:
He fell through the black lake, screaming and burning until he lost consciousness and thought he’d died.

This is where he told Caps something too unbelievable, though he stood there altered and somehow alive before his eyes: a glowing light came to him, burning his vision even through closed eyes. The glow resolves into something like an atomic model for a molecule drifting in the nimbus of a tiny cloud. It desires to help him, heal him, but does not know what he should look like! Asking his forgiveness---it has been so long since any like him walked there, having evolved into their atomic structures like itself---the being clothes the healed man, who speaks.

Excited, the atomic structure creature explains, “Entitiy, I am the last essence of life on this planet. All the others have died, and I have been alone...for one hundred thousand years. But now, entity, now I have you. We have each other. Forever.” (For effect this is all lettered small in a special font.)

In his angry rejection of this offer, Nathan discovers he’s been given power to control his environs---some force blasts and flames are portrayed---as self-defense. He bides his time and then uses those powers to turn on her, causing her anguish as she begged him to stop. He didn’t. He used the blasts of sand and flame to create a thickening funnel and trap her inside solid glass!

He returned to the flaming pool from which he’d originally arrived, and with her pleas to return ringing behind, he dove deeply into the tormenting flames, her glass sphere, following in the dark waters---to no avail. Now a vengeful Uncle Nat blames Caps for all of this, leading to the kidnapping and attempted murder.
Bernie doesn’t call him a liar but challenges the story as “far-fetched”; that doesn’t disqualify Caps from a triple-hot fudge sundae. Only problem here is that Ginger comes up to talk to Rich, but shows no reaction to Caps’ return. Guess it was only a couple of days. Oh well see you later.

The story stays on Rich’s mind; the change in Caps from his happy-go-lucky self weighs on his mind, to Ginger’s disappointment. He promises to call later. Algebra and the Bionic Woman occupy him ‘till bedtime, but the next morning at 7:37 a.m. starts with Caps arriving in a panic!

Now Rich has no doubts---a faceless man punches his way into the side of the house! Rich’s father Charles rushes down with a gun, which “uncle Nat” declares he knows is unloaded and then melts. One quick change to Nova leads to a brief, intense battle. Uncle Nat blasts Nova ever downward through the floor and the ground beneath. “Now WE can go off and be alone!” says Uncle Nat creepily as he flees with Roger under his arm. He declares the “uncle Nathan” Caps begs for mercy is dead, replaced by a being “reborn a million years in the future, with powers which won’t even exist until that far-future time!” From now on, he must be called---MEGA MAN!

Now they must be alone, he says---“to talk about HER!” But the earth shakes beneath his feet; the human rocket returns to action! Before he can zero in on Mega Man’s faceless kisser, a blast sets fire to the Rider house, with Mom, Dad and Robbie all inside. Mega Man races away with the helpless Caps! What should Nova do?
“The Answers all Lurk in the Fun-House!”

We are in the middle of the first run of NOVA I ever read. I believe Holt loaned me #7,8, and 9, at least, before he found the others on return trips. You could still buy them at D & L Salvage store on the highway heading towards Alabama, on a standing display rack with other, mostly eight to ten year old comics, for cover price. Every time the family car got anywhere close to that place, my heart raced. I’m sure I asked if we might have time to stop there several times we couldn’t, but I knew if I took it well, eventually the day would come again I’d see that place! Not like I ran around with money of my own very much until I was about ten. Remember when you were entrusted with your first couple of dollars to keep in your first wallet or pocket book? Bet you haven’t thought of that in some time. That’s the hidden treat of working on a thread like this---and reading it. But it’s too fine to limit with words.

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