Saturday, August 21, 2010

That 70s Hero

So here's Nova Ten.

(this title reminds me of a line early in The Book of Law about the four powers of the Sphinx. The star man, the sphinx...for a science fiction book, I must admit it's more mystical in some ways than I remember.)

Issue Ten

“Four Against the Sphinx!”

So we open between issues...a fight already in progress, at Westhaven Nuclear Generating Station. Amidst walls of flame, Nova dukes it out with an insectoid-headed villain resembling Stingray. Nova ends the impressive-looking fight by diving both of them into the local lake, and presses his attack to the last. Along with this good news, Nova learns he’s been cleared of the warehouse breaking and entry (see Nova #7). Now as Richard Rider he prepares for math and science mid terms, while his silly brother Robbie rubs in his a+.

The assault on the Sphinx continues. Condor, Powerhouse and Diamondhead find they face creations of light, as Kur rouses his master. Sphinx breaks with his pyramid meditation to face them and reshape the light waves that make his Pyramid of Knowledge invisible, so that its grand design awes all. He offers them one last chance to turn back, prompting Powerhouse to suggest taking it. Condor slaps him, while Diamondhead finds his considerable might is no match for the Sphinx, who hurls him away.

Shaking his post-test blues, Rider changes to Nova and seeks to use the map Computer Prime gave him to find Condor. He does, and attacks, only to face a contracting energy shield weapon Condor has stolen from the Nova ship. Sphinx destroys the weapon with a beam from his Ka jewel, and now uses the power it gives him to begin choking Condor to death. Powerhouse attempts to siphon this energy, and holds his own in combat for a moment, inspiring a rare bit of gratitude in Condor as he flies Powerhouse out of range of another blow with an uprooted tree.
Diamondhead’s ram attack from behind gets him blasted in the eyes with “the full power of the Sphinx”, who despises hand-to-hand contact, and so ends this one by levitating the villain speedily, uncontrollably, crushing him into a mountainside, where Sphinx rants he will remain “until time itself runs out on Earth.”

Nova bends the force field trap with his punches, still sealed. Since he can fly, Nova plays on the idea of going to the jail to see Firefly to burn it off. The police cooperate, but Firefly is unwilling to fix his suit to help Nova. The next idea is to fly back to the Westhaven atomic plant and let the generator he saved earlier burn the bubble away. He endures great heat, but his gambit pays off. He races back to upper New York in minutes, where somehow Sphinx is still fending off Condor and Powerhouse (how did the fight last this long, considering how he did earlier? Maybe Condor had lots of weapons to try). He tackles Powerhouse, who confronts him for trying to change his mind; while Condor has saved his life three times, Nova simply keeps attacking. They continue their highly kinetic battle until Powerhouse slips close enough to begin siphoning Nova’s power, sorry that he must kill him.

Kur spies the final battle between Sphinx and Condor, and prepares a stolen weapon to eliminate both of them, freeing him from servitude. But mysterious Sayge appears, doubtful of Kur’s motivation, offering him to gaze upon his face, the Mirror of All Souls, and uncover the truth.

Condor confronts Sphinx’s knowledge of his intelligence-gathering efforts, insisting he must be the only Emperor of Crime. Kur fires at Sphinx but strikes Condor as he swoops in, apparently erasing his mind. Sphinx is angry that his chance to pick Condor’s memories is gone, and after smacking Kur, uses his Ka stone to instill fear in Kur as he transforms the now-mindless villain into his namesake. The condor flies free, presumably haunted somehow by the knowledge that the Sphinx has defeated him once and for all.

The Sphinx still finds some ultimate answer eludes him, without which there is no victory. Just as Powerhouse drains Nova to weakness, Sphinx zaps him with the Ka stone in his forehead, preparing to possess their memories and destroy their empty bodies.
El Condor Pasa

I've got to admit, while I would try to be as different as possible from each individual thing I've read, be it Don Quijote or Donald Duck, this heaping helping of 1977 comic book goodness fits nicely into the half-remembered flights of fancy in my youth that have since inspired my original creations.

I'm going to review the next two issues of NOVA here, and then we're going to switch gears to the work of comics creator Jack "King" Kirby, with two strips he created in his under-appreciated return to Marvel Comics, where he had co-created adventures and characters in Fantastic Four, The mighty Thor, the Incredible Hulk, and much more (including the Silver Surfer, who I would like to feature when we're done with Nova next month). Two of his series inspire the form I give to my STUCKWAYZE, which deals with some parallel themes regarding origins, hidden races, and exceptional people...only the superhero vein is replaced by an original comical interpretation that's gotten fresh life of late, inspiring me to buy those old Kirbys on the cheap. You'll see why.

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