14 year-old Sam Alexander thought being part of the family business would mean doing janitorial work at his local high school, but in the inaugural arc of Marvel Comics’ new “Nova” series by writer Jeph Loeb and artist Ed McGuinness he discovered that following in his father’s footsteps was messy, but infinitely more exciting than he thought. In that first story Sam discovered his father was a member of the super powered intergalactic law enforcement agency known as the Nova Corps. The story concluded with Sam donning his missing father’s helmet and using his new super powers to save the planet and his family from a marauding intergalactic empire.
Becoming Nova was just Sam’s first step into the larger Marvel Universe. In Nova #6 the new creative team of writer Zeb Wells and artist Paco Medina kicked off the next leg of his journey which will find him coming face to face with some of the other heroes of the Marvel Universe, like the Superior Spider-Man. And while “Nova” will be taken over by “Deadpool” co-writer Gerry Duggan following “Nova” #100 in November (which marks the tenth issue of the current volume, Comic Book Resources spoke with Wells about his plans for the book’s current storyline and how he plans to go out with a cosmic bang.
CBR News: Zeb, you’ve done some space opera style stuff in your TV work on shows like “Titan Maximum,” but have you ever done comic work quite like “Nova” where you can explore both the Earth bound and cosmic corners of the Marvel Universe? How is it writing a book like that? Do you see “Nova” as more of a space opera title? More of a super hero title? Or a hybrid of both?
Zeb Wells: It’s definitely both. It’s about a kid who’s given a massive amount of power, and that’s really cool, but it comes with a boatload of cosmic baggage and a legacy that he has to sort out for his father’s sake. I want to straddle the line between fun teenage shenanigans and the big Nova space-opera stuff.
You’ve written a Nova character before during your time on “New Warriors,” but that was Richard Rider, a more experienced Nova. What do you find most interesting about rookie and current Nova, Sam Alexander? Which aspects of his personality are you interested in exploring in this series?
It’s interesting to me to see a hero that still has a sense of wonder about the Marvel Universe. I love writing Spider-Man, but he’s pretty unflappable at this point. If the Red Hulk suddenly shows up he will remain completely unflapped. Sam’s seeing all this stuff up close for the first time, and it’s fun to take that journey with him. Jeph Loeb would go on great runs when we were discussing the book describing how Sam would react to certain Marvel Heroes for the first time. It drove home how fun it is to write a new hero.
In Jeph’s initial story he gave readers the origin of this new Nova, but we first saw him in the “Point One” Anthology and then in “Avengers Vs. X-Men.” Where are you picking up Sam Alexander’s story? How long has he been Nova when your run begins in “Nova” #6?
I’m actually picking up a few hours after the “Marvel Now! Point One” story. Sam has to head home and tell his Mom where he’s been, which lets us recap for those coming directly from Nova #5.
In his initial “Guardians of the Galaxy” story writer Brian Michael Bendis established that the galactic council had sort of declared Earth a no man’s land to the rest of the galaxy. Will the Council play a role in “Nova?” Are they aware of Sam Alexander’s existence when your run begins?
Thanos and Jonathan Hickman’s “Infinity” series is more of our entry to the cosmic stuff. Thanos doesn’t pay the council much heed and comes to Earth anyway, where he quickly becomes aware that there’s another Nova on Earth. He doesn’t love it.
Since the “Nova” tie-in to “Infinity” doesn’t start until issue #8, what can you tell us about the story you kicked off in issue #6?
It’s about how a kid who’s decided to be a superhero goes about that practically. There’s no career path, especially when all the action’s in
New York and he’s stuck in Carefree, Arizona. Being a 14-year-old, Sam just jumps in with both feet, and I think watching him feel it out is a lot of fun.
We know Sam runs into the Superior Spider-Man in issue #7. What can you tell us about their interaction? What was it like writing Ock Spidey and having him bounce of a teenager?
It was so much fun. Believe it or not, Otto Octavius doesn’t have a lot of time for a wide-eyed hero. I love the whole concept of what Dan Slott came up with and I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to play with Doctor Spoctoman or whatever everyone’s calling him. It’s Doctor Spoctoman, right?
[Laughs] I hadn’t heard that one, but I like it. You touched upon your “Infinity” tie-in arc of “Nova” earlier. What else can you tell us about it? Will Nova be part of the battle out in the cosmos? Or will your story revolve around the battle taking place on Earth?
Sam’s one of the few cosmic heroes still on Earth when Thanos’ army arrives. So it’s going to fall on Sam to help defend the home turf. Issues
#6 and #7 are about Sam learning how to be a hero on Earth — Issue #8 is when his galactic chickens come home to roost.
You’re working with Paco Medina on these next few issues of “Nova.” What do you feel he brings to the book as an artist?
A sense of fluidity and speed, both very important to the character. When Sam’s streaking through the air Paco makes you feel the velocity. And his lines are just so clean — he’s the perfect artist for this book.
Finally, there are many lingering questions and mysteries surrounding Nova; ones that Jeph established in his initial arc and others lingering from “The Thanos Imperative.” For instance, where exactly is Sam’s father? What kind of relationship did the Super Novas have with the other members of the Nova Corps and what’s the overall status of the Nova Corps? And if Star-Lord and Thanos escaped the Cancerverse what happened to Richard Rider? Will you address any of these questions in your initial Nova stories? And if so, when can we expect some clues or answers to these questions?
That’s a lot of questions. I’m not going to lie to you, I’m feeling attacked. Seriously, though. All of those threads play into my arc. I can’t promise answers to all of the questions, but those plot threads are definitely kept alive with clues and hints to what the answers are.
“Nova” #7 by Wells and Medina goes on sale August 21.