Tuesday, September 14, 2010

One more Seventies summer post

First I wanna say Savage Dragon creator Erik Larsen, who wrote a later revival of NOVA, has been reading along! Pretty cool.

[i]Not ready for Nova Prime Time Players[/i]

When this issue hit the stands, the general American public’s ideas of super heroes most likely came from campy sources, as BATMAN and WONDER WOMAN were the two most successful adaptation of super heroes in a decade. The popular culture has seen THE SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN since 1974, and other than WONDER WOMAN, that’s about it when you think about it. Saturday morning cartoons and comic books were seen as about on the same level by most of the public, despite the deeper characterizations and more mature themes that had crept in since the Silver Age. STAR WARS is coming, bringing less costumed-seeming super-heroes, or rather, bringing a super villain and mostly a motley crew playing hero in super circumstances, with powers, yes, which they're only beginning to grasp.

SUPERMAN: THE MOVIE is still a year away, right? That’s the first super hero from comic books for adults or a general audience---hence its PG rating, back when such things often had more bearing in parental decisions. This generation must have seemed to be growing up relatively fast, with less reverence to what was institutional before. There were arguments that much about society had been wrong all along, and so a kind of relativism factored into the less morally restrained young adults in the teens and twenties here. I've heard the stories, I know. So a straight ahead comic book like Nova was still in a medium as yet undiscovered much by new adult readers, though some had hung on or come back from earlier.

He must've seemed a bit square to someone. Yet you can criticize it harshly as a fannish regurgitation of what had since become formula, or the brightest possible celebration of all that is the comic book super hero. Before the darkening of Wolverine and the lionizing of the Punisher and post-modernism occasionally gone awry, this is one last super hero creation, pure and as free of fads as can be.

The Man Called Nova is one last Boy Scout without the Junior Woodchuck Manual hopelessly lost from his troop as a mere cosmic webelo. meant to carry on a non-ironic stance, one last son of frenzied fanzine dreams who could've neatly fit into the Golden Age pantheon of some company, save only for the trademarked self-doubt that most colorfully plagues the company's flagship character, who shares with him one other milieu: high school. There's no Teen Titans (ah, New WArriors) for this guy, and the closest thing to a mentor until the coming of Nova 0:0 sixteen years later is a cold and distant star ship, belonging to a dead hero who, in that Golden Age, would've been the title character.

With his death at the start, longtime fans are reminded of the Green Lantern, whose successor also died while putting awesome powers into the hands of an Earthling. Yet Nova's a good bit more average than the supposedly fearless Green Lanterns. Too bad the Guy Gardner character couldn't have been a Nova, as those powers would've suited him! On the bright side, at least Rich didn't end up a kid sidekick. His powers legacy is where he gains a trait in common with many other super heroes: as a Nova Prime Centurion, at least, he is a kind of orphan!

THE INCREDIBLE HULK will be on TV before the year is out, though. Don’t even get me started about Spider-Man, please, though I did wear out a perfectly good Halloween costume in the days afterwards, sneaking about and jumping from things like live action Spider-Man! I had to win an argument with Mom that I’d grow out of it by next Halloween, anyway. Anything to save a dollar back then, though!
So here’s Nova, pitched in that setting, not so very long after it looked like the super hero trend might fade---a fad past its cycle. Maybe it was. Maybe the contingencies of keeping the line pumping out there do not always bring us the best in art, it’s true. But here was another caretaker for the Marvel Universe and its continuity, smack in the middle with a villain from its Silver Age, and, from behind the scenes, a villain from its Golden Age, harkening back to the pulps that started it all.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jfhl8JWzBfU Give a Little Bit

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zQFuNHCMF2Y&feature=fvw Heroes

“The Fury Before the Storm!”

Marv Wolfman writer/ editor Carmine Infantino & Tom Palmer, “artists extraordinaire”
John Costanza letterer Ivan Vartanoff colorist

Nova’s patrol turns up his ally Crimebuster, whose Batman-style approach has alerted him to an antique furniture theft by the Krimmons gang. “CB” discourages banter, though he tells us all about inserting his net cartridge into his “whammer” ( a type of platform gun) to snare a runaway not clobbered by the Human Rocket, who’s rather impressed. Now he impresses himself: he’s set to fly out of the way of a barreling truck, but he’s blocked by a stone overhang. He elbows the wall hard enough to bring the overhang down onto the truck. Crimebuster interrupts his interrogation to demonstrate his hypnotic eye lenses, yielding the location needed to wrap things up. He then turns down Nova’s offer to wrap up the collar, thanks him for his help, and prepares to notify the police from his flying lab.

All this is observed by a masked thief, which we know from last issue is Mike Burley, obeying to save his brother’s life. He jimmies the lock and sets off the alarms, which brings Nova; he quickly uses metallic bars to wrap up his opponents and quickly arrive, smashing the window. The thief begs “please” as he’s taken down; Nova unmasks him and then, despite being strong enough to do all the above, he’s shoved back in surprise and then lets Mike acrobatically skip out the window and into the alleyways, which Nova decides are too dark and varied to begin searching. (Perhaps he’s divided, too, about hauling Burley in.) He’ll check at Burley’s house later.
Robert addresses Rich in the shower, regarding their father’s mysterious plans and hours, and the apparent advance four month payment in cash for the mortgage. He should be worried: at the moment, Charles Rider’s receiving his orders in exchange for the cash, standing in a location in Huntington, Long Beach before the shadowed Inner Circle. How exactly their contract to re-possess all he owns if he doesn’t obey, I’m not sure, but Charles realizes his pride has left him open to their manipulation.

Son Rich struggles through several volumes of subjects “made easy”, as he has for three and a half hours. Since Ginger isn’t likely to still be at Uncle Fudge’s Shoppe, and Bernie’s jokes seem tedious with Burley and his father’s problems on his mind, it’s time to go Nova! In this, he at least finds some boost to his self-esteem. Now his helmet receives a call over police band about some unspecified disturbance at Shea Stadium, so his speed takes him to the scene almost instantly.
Now Iron Man apparently attacks him, from nowhere! More shockingly, Spider-Man arrives to web up his face. Nova takes a few hard hits before the need to reason drives him to flee. Now the Hulk piles on, landing on his back, then punching him!

Nova grabs a girder to re-distribute his inertia, only to take Captain America’s shield, right on the chin. Nova dismisses the idea that this is a hazing as stupid.
So five figures fall into Shea Stadium, and now he notices the impossible: Spider-Man and Captain America fly in! He pounds “Spider-Man”, expecting the latter’s strength to reveal him as non-human---in fact, a robot. Now Nova begins tearing into the non-heroes ferociously. The explosion of the “Hulk” sends him flying into monkey bars in nearby Flushing Meadow Park. Even the little kids resent him “hoggin’” the set; he bemusedly dusts himself off with an extra dash of pity.

Nick Fury of S.H.I.E.L.D., the super-spy agency walks up to congratulate him for passing his test against the Life Model Decoys. He takes Nova to the Helicarrier via chopper, addressing him by his name, Richard Rider. He reveals the checking they did, after a kid was hit by a strange bolt from the blue. They checked the medical records and from there deduced Nova’s identity, though he promises they’ve covered up his tracks.

After some banter, Fury explains Burley’s brother is a top flight nuclear scientist, kidnapped before Sandman attempted to nab Mike last issue. The villain behind it all is revealed to Nova, but not the reader, and he agrees to partner with S.H.I.E.L.D.

I wonder if this was on Bendis’ mind when he had Fury come up to Spider-Man with his secret identity, uncovered in a similar fashion in ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN? Seems likely.

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