Sunday, October 31, 2010

What if someone else became Nova?

Dawn presents: What if? 15 July, 1979


What if...Someone else had become Nova?

A man exists on different worlds...the same man...yet very different men!
I really like the alternative worlds concept: the different layers of existence, the twists that would make one probability the onset of different consequences...

Let’s see: first we have some nice John Buscema art.

We start out with a bullied character, Rich Ryder, receiving the Prime Centurion powers from a dying hero orbiting the Earth. You automatically hope the bullying doesn’t make him a bully, himself (no offense Bully). Another world, perhaps the bully gets the “Nova Zap!” Now it’s time to explore one of those twists...

(art: Simonson/ Wiacek) First, we have a grief-stricken woman, her husband felled, a man’s first murder...all she wants is for the man to pay. Helen Taylor’s haunted over the next three months: there’s no breakthrough. Just as she prays for a miracle in her loneliness---the bolt from the blue! Now, sporting cartoony lips as awesome speed lines pass by, she’s become the new Nova! She’s really an engine of vengeance, crashing the underworld, leaving a calling card with a “nova burst” for the police.

In the midst of one barrage, she’s paused by the Kingpin, the boss she wishes to see.
(They’ve toned down the pink pants inside!) He smacks her haughtily, but that’s his last act of aggression. See, she’s no hero; if her husband still lived, perhaps this successor would not be so bitter. Nova Prime couldn’t know at any rate. In a montage, we see her ruthless prowess; her foes fall “and she shrugs it off, a casualty of war.”

Attilla the Hun and Genghis Khan wrapped into one: that’s the impression Ben Grimm gets from Jameson’s Bugle editorials. Naturally, the situation’s fallen into the hands of the Fantastic Four. When they attack, she’s puzzled; aren’t they on the same side? (Killing non-stop is not what heroes do, honey.) Now she believes perhaps they’ve always been wicked pretenders. As she retorts to the Torch, “I’m after Justice!” Sue explains they are not into battles to the death; I mean, had she ever heard of the Four killing even ONE foe? Sue cuts her air supply. Now what will they do?

They call the White House. What alternative do they have but to neutralize her, as she no longer even professes openly just what is her objective? Reed remorsefully sets her adrift in the Negative Zone.

Finally, a man’s found off Long Island, a car in the drink for several months. At first I’m trying to place him, but when I flip back, holy crow, it’s the man who killed her husband, who she never found!

So now they’ve explained the “first Earth” Nova and this ill-fated female version. The next story happens on a world with no super heroes...and apparently the black fellow who got the Nova powers never thought to use them, as he is being thrown out with no money and a shaky cat named Jake. Of the warm “long johns” he’s found, “if it didn ’t look to silly I’d wear the blame thing!” The North Star as his guide, our tattered tramp wanders through the snow...while above:

The Skrulls search out “new planets wealthy in minerals to plunder,” and from above they scan and discover the Nova powers active on Earth. Seeking reverence on their home world, they prepare to isolate and kidnap the power-bearer and rob our “insignificant world,” and use a little space-lingo as they prepare to close in on...

...our non-Nova, who offers to work to come inside, despite being warned by an older lady that this is an orphanage and he may be in over his head. The kids assuage his worries, though, and from his clean-shaven depiction he looks like he’s cleaned up pretty recently and so we get a sweet scene and learn his name’s Jesse. The adults listen off-panel, enthralled by his story, almost forgetting dinner.

Henry, the chef, goes to the kitchen as one young boy sees the space ship above.
“That does it, young man!” says the woman, Ms. Cathy. “no more ‘Star Wars’ for you! This afternoon showing was your fifteenth and final time!” Now I’m hoping someone figures out how to use the costume and powers, because the Skrulls blast open the door.

Already, Jesse’s trying to be a hero; the next “demoleculizer” blast does nothing to harm him. All he knows is nothing has hurt him since the day he found the costume!

The children are warned back, the cat’s drawn really huge, and now, oops, just as he’s put on his suit and starts dishing out the butt-whippins, Jesse, er, is colored caucasian. He fights well but they change into a snake that seems to knock him out by winding him with constriction. The kids are told to have faith, like in the Scriptures, and the cat sulks.

But above, Nova’s playing possum to get the Skrulls away from “Ms. Cathy and the kids!” He’s got to stop them now that he know the plan. “Suddenly, the Black Nova (as if all this time we didn’t notice his color) leaps to his feet...” * A Skrull changes into an Earth tiger, no match for Nova. The entire fleet’s about to be contacted when he desperately slams into the console. They warn him, that’s suicide---he knows. Above the orphanage, the North Star gets brighter, and they talk about it “going nova,” like they learned in science class. “Does it have to do with Jesse?” little Jonathan asks. Ms. Cathy is certain it does, but who can say how? She pets her comfy new cat that came in with Jesse/ Nova, and offers hot cocoa. (Art: Infantino/ Springer)
Hey, this is a pretty good comic! I'll do the other two next! Angela Dawn


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  2. I remember your blog! Wasn't it about the teenager going to eat sushi and watch Iron Man 2, around May? Yeah!