Monday, August 23, 2010

Only the best issue of NOVA yet!

Oh, No Va No more!

Magic man Heart

[IMG][/IMG] British cover, 1977 Welcome to Machine

“Nova no more!”


Wolfman/ Buscema/ Giacoia/ Gaspar (Saladino)/ Marie Severin

Inside his Pyramid of Knowledge, the Sphinx lays low all invaders. We resume just before the end of last month’s battle between Nova and Powerhouse, essentially replaying the incident, leaving all unconscious at the feet of the Sphinx. Nova’s sympathetic thoughts about P-H’s motivations end with P-H’s drain attack and confession that he cannot betray the Condor, feeling trapped by fate. Sphinx renews his search for “the one dark question I still must solve!” but first, exiles his lackey Kur with the Ka Stone, to a month in a Hell-like dimension. Faceless Sayge warns him he exalts himself too much as a god, which he defends; Sayge reminds him how desperately he seeks the answer to “the question.” His face is now a mirror of Sphinx’s soul, for which Sphinx can glance for truth, and so, he survives the villain’s wrath, disturbing him. He rails at his curse, offering to destroy the world itself for...the answer.

In his absence, Nova/ Rich Rider’s girlfriend Ginger Jaye talks to joking Bernie Dillon about his disappearance from class and home. Bernie has nothing, but privately thinks he has no clues to Rich’s strange behavior of late. He promises himself, though Rich hasn’t confided, he will stick closely to him to figure things out.

On great ebony slabs within the Power Pyramid, the Sphinx makes a speech about the seven chakras, and his search within the pineal gland/ first chakra for memories. He grows impatient with his centuries-long efforts to probe minds for the great secret, but to his surprise and befuddlement, one of these before him, Powerhouse or Nova, holds the key!

In fact, it is our star, from whose mind he finds he cannot retract memories without apparently destroying the mind, “which would only destroy ME!” Sayge appears when he screams, offering the method by which the probe will succeed. He contains one of the four secrets of the universe, but it is sealed by his Nova identity, which marks the point he gained knowledge he himself knows not. With a pass of his hand, then, the Sphinx declares him Nova no more. The costume vanishes, and the defenseless Rider is transported to Earth, where the Sphinx will monitor his now-unguarded mind to find the secret he needs. He then strips Powerhouse of his memories and transports him to another country, amnesiac.

Rider is sent to the guidance counselor; along the way he promises Bernie he will talk to him at lunch. Having failed his mid terms, Rider’s worrying the counselor, who encourages him to try harder. Just as Ginger finds him an hour later, so does ill-tempered Mike Burley, who fends off Rich’s attempt to stand up for himself. Even Mike’s girlfriend Donna Lee touts Rich as a good guy, but Burley smugly dismisses this and they leave. Ginger tells Rich that, his worries about getting tougher aside, this is the best he’s looked since the accident (unknown to her, the Nova origin point). His memories of Nova erased, Rich is clueless. He sits down for lunch, his friends excited about a TV station visit (Rich is thinking about broadcasting as a career already). Another mention of the accident---the reason for cancelling their last trip there---leaves Rich puzzled, dazed and confused, with flashes of the Nova Prime ship and the bolt that struck him with his powers taunting him.

According to a 2007 survey, about one out of three kids in middle/ high school report bullying. It’s the subject of a summit in the Dept. of Education this morning. Texting is apparently a big part of the problem, so if you want to update Rich’s predicament, imagine him getting “you’re cold meat!” messages from Burley. 75% of the kids have phones these days.

Charles Rider awaits at home, to quickly bless his son out, stressed about his own mortgage payments now that he is suspended as principal. Richard is to visit his uncle for math/ science tutoring next week. Mom explains the pushing is Charles’ concern for Rich’s well-being, and that her own job will not be enough for them to keep the house. (First Mega Man, then the bank; the faceless enemies of their house just keep coming.) Richard swallows this information with an added dose of guilt, trying to come to grips with how one becomes more responsible, undermining the whole effort with shame, really. Caps and Bernie arrive to take him to WXYZ TV’s studio.

Tony DiMartino offers a friendly tour, including the broadcasting room and its consoles and monitors. On one of them, Caps excitedly notices Star Trek, while Bernie assures him he’s seen this and all other episodes about fifteen times. The rocket (the Enterprise) Nova Prime ship...”Blazes! I-I remember now!” Rich cuts his visit short, as Sphinx observes in a crystal-ball like apparatus, cursing the return of Rider’s memory and the strength of his mind. Now this part involves Richard running, remembering the assault on the Pyramid with the Terrible Trio, his imposed amnesia, and his appearance is revealed to be an illusion, now vanishing. At last, he’s Nova, the Human Rocket!!

But what now?

Does he resume a battle he has no idea how to win? Does he go back to being “a normal, typical schnook?”studying? The appearance of the Sphinx inside the TV studio interrupts his worries. So he contains a secret that will free Sphinx from immortality, but attaining it will require his destruction after all. Nova punches him full blast, to no effect. Caps recognizes his rescuer Nova, but the boys can do nothing to help him battle the Sphinx, who withstands his blows and then knocks him into a control panel, spouting electricity.

Man does the Sphinx lay into Nova, smashing up the studio piece by piece over him. But Nova knows the world itself may suffer if he doesn’t keep fighting, though he can barely move or breathe at all. A Ka stone blast from his brow rains the lighting rig upon our hero, but nearly dying doesn’t keep Nova down. He’s never done anything the easy way, he spits; he won’t start now. His monologue, however simple, intones the heroism of his heart.

This reaches the Sphinx; he declares Nova is not a child, but a man, “more of a man than I have seen in many a century!” He cannot invade the guarded mind, and so he swears he will return one day when least expected for the secret. He vanishes, leaving the recovering hero smiling. Now, in his own mind, he is “Definitely---the MAN called Nova!”

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