“Nova” #26 continues what this series does best: tell the story of a young superhero still learning the ropes. In this case, it’s a follow-up to Nova’s time in the “Axis” tie-ins, where Nova told the temporarily-good Carnage his secret identity. Now that “Axis” is over and everyone’s reverted to normal, of course, Gerry Duggan, John Timms, Roberto Poggi and David Curiel showg us why this was a very bad idea indeed.
Ignoring for the moment that I’m not entirely sure how this storyline fits into the conclusion of “Axis” (and Carnage’s fate in it), this storyline takes what could have been a slightly pointless tie-in and makes it an integral part of the series. Sam’s telling Carnage his real identity was a big mistake, and one that he’s now having to try and fix rather than having magically undone for him. That’s part of why “Nova” in general is fun; when Sam screws up, it’s his own responsibility to fix things once more.
With Nova’s helmet still damaged and unreliable, it’s also good that Sam has to use his wits as much as anything else to stop Carnage. His attempts to deflect the super-villain are entertaining, and it’s as humorous as it is clever as Sam spins story after story to try and shake Carnage off of his trail. I also appreciate that he’s pulling in his mother to help try and fix the problem; his relationship with his mother has always been a core part of the series, and I like that they’ve gotten to the point where she can play a part in his superhero life while still being first and foremost his mother who worries about him.
Timms and Poggi step in this month on art duties (alongside regular colorist Curiel), and it’s good. It’s in the same clean style that David Baldeon normally draws the comic in (as well as Ed McGuiness before him), and moments like the Nova helmet gathering dust are drawn quite effectively. Timms does draw Nova looking a little taller and more developed than we normally get with Sam and, honestly, that’s a tiny bit jarring if only because he’s always been depicted shorter and with a slim frame. Here, especially when he’s entering the apartment to tell his mother about Carnage or the school at the end, he looks less like a kid and much more like a man.
In many ways, “Nova” #26 reminds me of the early days of “Amazing Spider-Man,” where Peter Parker would learn from his mistakes and continue to become a more confident and capable hero. Two years in, “Nova” is still a solid and enjoyable comic.