As Marvel begins to seed its next major event, “Infinity,” it is becoming quite clear that “Nova” and “Guardians of the Galaxy” have at least a tangential connection to the grandiose happenings coming up. “Nova” #4 from writer Jeph Loeb and visual specialists Ed McGuinness, Dexter Vines, Marte Gracia and Albert Deschesne focuses on the present, as young Sam Alexander is neck-deep against the Chitauri in space, somewhere out near Jupiter. Yes, the same Chitauri from “The Avengers” film, however with just a little more depth here — not much, but a little — with some dialog to exhibit that depth.
The Chitauri serve as a decent faceless menace, allowing Loeb to deliver a threat that has not been overdone in comics, but also holds some draw and definition for non-comics aficionados who may have happened upon this series from Nova’s appearances in other media. Sam credits his video game-playing experience as the primary form of training that allows him to take on the Chitauri fleet, which harbors a menace with deep ties to Nova’s past. Loeb fills the character of Nova with a whimsical sense of purpose, defining the titular character as a teen through his dialog and actions despite the fact that we don’t see the teen under the helmet until the final scene of “Nova” #4.
Adept at writing to McGuinness’ strengths, Loeb serves up Titus: a gigantic, anthropomorphic, cybernetic white tiger. “Nova” #4 provides background on Titus and his relationships with both Nova and the Chitauri. Loeb doesn’t let that story distill too much, choosing to balance backlog with battle, which once more plays to the strengths of McGuinness. That said, the origin of Sam Alexander seems to be stretching a little thin, but the upside to that is that Ed McGuinness’ art is given that much more room to fill, which the artist does magnificently. To Vines’ and Gracia’s credit, they add a considerable amount of visual pop to the pages through their inks and coloring, but do not even come close to disrupting McGuinness’ work that the trio seems to merge into one artist rather than an art team. Albert Deschesne’s lettering is smartly matched to the participants in “Nova” #4, giving each a distinct dialect and tone. The Chitauri are even given an alien font that takes a little studying to decipher, but I would imagine their spoken words would require some concentration to be properly understood.
With Sam back on Earth and his opponent in the vicinity of his family, this story seems headed for predictability. Luckily for readers, Loeb and McGuinness have a knack for finding the fun, bigscreen moments in predictable stories and extrapolating on those to celebrate the awesomeness and wow factor contained in comic book adventures, essentially transforming predictability into novelty and fun. Sam’s amazement as things unfold around him, coupled with the expanding vastness, provide plenty of grist for the creative mill and I am eager to see what the duo does next. This series has certainly been big and fun and “Nova” #4 is a prime example of why.