Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Nova the Human Rocket: Blackout

I’ve got to mention the back-up story in #18, where the court frees Dad on bail and Rich apologizes, in a scene heading into the house and one in at Uncle Fudge’s Shoppe, to his supporting cast for seemingly not caring. Meanwhile Robbie decides to turn his inventive quickness towards discovering the secret of Richard Rider.

“Blackout means Business, and His Business is Murder!”
Wolfman/ Infantino/ Palmer /Rosen/ Michele Wolfman

Flying free above the harbor in NYC doesn’t mean Nova’s not flunking science and math hard enough to become the first kid left back a grade at Truman Capote High. Smiles drop with the black wave of absolute darkness, that not even Nova’s special lenses can penetrate. A zap from within the unknown sends Nova plunging backwards out of control into a building. He’s been mistaken for a spy by BlackOut, who approaches with another dark-matter-like thrust aboard black circles beneath his feet. They levitate him close enough to choke Nova with his powers and explain how all heat is siphoned by his bombardments. Though Nova doesn’t “know you from Grizzly Adams” :-D, he refuses Blackout’s demand to leave and bother him no more. His bolt hits Nova like solid steel; he rolls with the force, going out the other side of the building!

He jokes about his “worst strategy for winning fights that I’ve ever seen” as high tension wires rush to greet him---but not before Blackout gives him the carbonite treatment just like on the cover. “Your one chance is to get out of there before your air runs out! Which should be in about two or three minutes. Be seeing you, if you’re lucky.” Luck, blah, blah, you’ve got a fifteen minute supply of recycling air in your helmet, homey, free your head, the rest will follow. Good job! Anything IS possible. “Now, if only I could convince myself that would work with School. Oboy, speaking of’s almost nine. Five minutes before class starts. Four hundred seconds until Rich Rider gets yet another late report. “ (Caption: Three hundred, actually, but then, Rich is lousy at math, isn’t he?)

Burst! Secretive change to school clothes. As soon as his helmet is soft and tucked away, he steps out, glad to see Ginger. Barry-Wally joke in background...Ginger’s sweet on Rich again with the miscommunication gone, and mentions his Dad rushing to a meeting along her way. What is THAT about? Anyway, class, study date...a breeze of normality washes over the scene in Hempstead...

We pick up on Canal Street, where Blackout’s musing he’s “returning to the scene of the crime, so to speak.” What HAS he begun? His blacklight blast smashes inside, and then becomes a path for running over to freeze the safe door with yet another application. So he’s lived through someone named Croit’s experiments. That’s who enters, exclaiming: “You? Marcus Daniels?” Blackout doesn’t believe Croit has a cure such as he offers to make; he expects treachery to eliminate the possibility for what he knows about Croit’s mulit-million dollar grant funded research. He then “merges” Croit “into the color spectrum” to leave him somewhere he can hear and think, but helpless to Blackout’s mercy. First he must complete his work, then come back and reveal all and relish the agony!

See, as he trashes the lab, Daniels explains: as assistant, he was framed for Croit’s fraud, looking at fifteen years or agreeing to play guinea pig for Croit, attained via bribery. So they’re harnessing the power of a “black star” and “reducing its incredible output to an infinitesimal degree”, to cure disease; and the release of too much will result “in a nice funeral.” For three days his body’s super charged, and he is unapproachable. Sealed away, Daniels was now a walking generator, and he used his powers to escape.

Rich and Ginger leave the basketball game to study, quite against Rich’s desires. He relents, confessing on the way home how humiliating it is to ask his fifteen year old younger brother “to explain logarithms.” She’s got brains for this. Good thing, the approaching darkness at four p.m. nearly sends Nova to look for Blackout, but he studies a couple of hours anyway. Now a storm’s followed. He uses a rushing car’s momentum to make it evade a pedestrian, and blasting away, Nova realizes the girl would’ve been easier to move. But “I can’t be cute AND perfect at the same time.”
Roy Thomas would be happy to tell you King Kong’s died here in Manhatten twice, and Kojak uses”its own special dirt and grime as background.” The clouds, fed with black light, rain lightning down. The power will either make Blackout invincible or tear him apart in pulsations. Perhaps he will be “lost in the rainbow forever,” atoms merged with the light spectrum. He plans to use a machine stabilizer to focus his excess energies into Manhattan to cripple the city and save himself at the same time.

But then he recognizes the speeding form of the Human Rocket!
With beams and barriers Blackout hammers and delays Nova, who then uses his helmeted head to batter through that and a second one before it’s solid. Next he must smash his body into the side of the building to crush the coating of ice that forms around his body.

Blackout charges Rich’s body with the Blacklight, threatens to split him apart. Hollow protestations end with by Nova’s last ditch show of force, and the double handed smash topples Blackout onto the generator. Now Nova reintegrates, helpless to stop Blackout from himself fading. He joins Croit in the light spectrum. He becomes part of the light waves, his voice trailing: ”but it can’t end like this...”

As for that...Nova berates himself for having no answers at all.

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