“Nova” #1 should have been a great start to the new series. The previous “Nova” series ended with Sam Alexander reuniting with his missing father Jesse Alexander — who was also a member of the Nova Corps — and returning to Earth to both be Novas together. However, this rare instance of a father/son superhero team instead comes across as missing just about every opportunity offered.
Sean Ryan’s story is a strange mixture of tones; a sort of “everything is awesome” rose-colored look at how great Sam’s life is now, mixed with ominous tones of strange subterranean menaces and a devious plot involving Sam’s father. Neither angle seems to work here, though. The Jesse twist is frustrating; not only is it going right to the “mental possession/evil duplicate/something else warping dad” well, but it feels overly obvious and missing the greater promise of Sam having his father being a superhero alongside him. There are plenty of chances for conflict here, but making dad a menace (presumably temporarily) misses all of the ones inherent with a parent being involved. Instead, it’s something so generic it could just as easily be a principal, a next-door neighbor or even a random stranger. There’s nothing about this plot that takes this setup and uses it to the comic’s advantage. At the same time, Ryan has also stripped out any conflict in balancing Sam’s personal life with being Nova. He’s got a robust personal life, he’s acing schoolwork and it’s so overly perfect it feels like it is an entirely different character from the one in the previous three years’ worth of “Nova” comics. In short, this doesn’t feel like Sam Alexander in the slightest.
Cory Smith’s artwork is a bit stronger than the script, at least, but even then it’s not quite on point either. Characters sometimes come across as a little too stiff, and the kids’ proportions never feel quite right. Heads are a little too large, and a little too glazed at times. What I do like about Smith’s art, though, is how well he handles the scenes with the Novas flying through the air. There’s an energy to those scenes that is entrancing, whether they’re looping through the air or even just hovering over a dangerous scene. Sam zooming off-planet is so exuberant it makes you want page after page of him exploring the cosmos; when it comes to that, Smith is absolutely on target.
“Nova” #1 is a rough start to a new series; it feels like many things that worked in the previous series aren’t present here, and the ideas that were carried over aren’t quite lining up properly. For a legacy character who’s really come into his own over the past few years, this comic feels like a bit of a misstep. Hopefully, a course correction will be just around the bend.