The cosmic corner of the Marvel Universe is a wild and dangerous place. It's plagued by war, invasions, and strange and frightening interstellar phenomenon, and it seems as though as soon as one cosmic conflagration ends, another is breaking out. Fortunately, the Marvel U spaceways are patrolled by Richard Ryder AKA Nova, the Human Rocket and his new fledgling Nova Corps.
Their latest assignments includes dealing with the mysterious tear in space known as the Fault, which figures into the plot of the current "Realm of Kings" storyline currently running through all of MArvel's cosmic titles. The Corps is also interested in apprehending Ryder's former ally, Darkhawk, who was framed for murder during "War of Kings." Nova recently cornered Darkhawk, who explained to his ex-New Warriors teammate what really happened, but just as they came to an understanding, the planet they were on was torn apart by the Fault and Nova and Darkhawk were pulled into the mysterious tear in reality.
In "Nova" #32, on sale now, kicked off a multi-part story arc titled "Riddle of the Sphinx" in which the title character and Darkhawk discovered that one of Nova's oldest and most dangerous foes was waiting for them inside the Fault. Nova and Darkhawk have found themselves trapped on a magical planet-like construct created by Nova's old foe, The Sphinx. The ancient, immortal villain has also used the vast powers at his command to summon other heroes from the past, like Reed Richards of the Fantastic Four, Black Bolt of the Inhumans, and Nova's former comrade in the New Warriors, Namorita, to his cosmic lair. Making things even more complicated is the fact that both Black Bolt and Namorita are dead in the present day Marvel Universe.
What exactly does the Sphinx want and how will Nova handle his interactions with the heroes from the past? For the answers to these questions and more, CBR News spoke with "Nova" editor Bill Rosemann and writers Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning, who collectively answer their questions as DnA.
CBR News: So, issue #32 of "Nova" is the first time we've seen the Sphinx in a long while. What made you want to bring him back?
DnA: Simply because he's the Nova bad guy, the Human Rocket's arch-nemesis, and he looks so cool, and he's got a power set that makes him a major big bad in the Kang/Immortus league.
Bill Rosemann: When we were prepping for the launch of the Human Rocket's new series, one of the big goals before us was bringing back Nova's number one foe, a villain who's gone toe-to-toe with Galactus himself! Fast forward nearly three years, and the opportunity and story possibilities finally aligned for DnA and our amazing art team to remind comicdom why the Sphinx deserves to stand up there with the rest of the big boys!
Based on his actions in issue #32, it doesn't seem like the Sphinx is out to get Nova. Is there anything you can say about his current motivations? Is the Sphinx the villain of this arc, or is his role in the this storyline a little bit more complex?
DnA: Yes, it's much more complex. He is the bad guy, to Nova and to others, because he's dangerous and driven and very singularly obsessed. But as you say, he's not "out to get" Nova. It's nothing as simple as that.
The big reveal at the end of issue #32 is the return (sort of) of Namorita. What was going through Rich's mind when he discovered that the mummified figure that Black Bolt was carrying was her? Is it just shock and surprise that an old friend is alive, or do Rich's feelings run deeper than that?
DnA: Much deeper, as you might expect. Namorita was the love of his life. And, of course, Nova's in a situation that makes it impossible to tell anybody about the future or the past: he's surrounded by people like Rita and Reed who he simply can't tell the truth to without the risk of destroying the time line and changing everything forever.
BR: Have you ever run into an ex-girlfriend or boyfriend after a few years and been blasted by a wave of mixed thoughts and conflicting emotions? Multiply that by a thousand, and you can begin to understand how Rich is feeling about the woman he once split with - but who died before he could attempt to heal any emotional wounds.
It's interesting to look at the people that the Spinx has "selected" for his current plan and wonder, is he simply picking heroes he has a past history with, or is there something else behind his reasons for choosing these heroes?
DnA: It would seem to be people who have bested him in the past. People he admires and respects as adversaries.
What can you tell us about the plot and themes of the remaining chapters of "Riddle of the Sphinx?"
DnA: We're going to get to find out exactly what the Sphinx is up to and what Nova intends to do about it (hey, that may even include helping the Sphinx!). But it's going to be an emotional minefield as Rich tries not to say all the things to Reed, Black Bolt and, most of all, 'Nita, that he's bursting to say!
The other Centurions of the new Nova Corps did not appear in issue #32. Will you be checkingin on them in this storyline, or will you pick up their stories later?
DnA: We're not losing sight of them, but this is a very Rich-centric story
For those that want to experience the entire story of "Realm of Kings," how integral is the current arc in "Nova?" Is there anything you can say about what it adds to the larger story of the Fault and its effects on the galaxy?
DnA: It fits into the growing fabric of the whole "Fault" storyline (actually, it's more of a "storyscape") running through all the "Realm of Kings" books, and parts of it will play out crucially in some Major Ways We're Not At Liberty To Talk About.
BR: What's so fun about this ongoing "Realm of Kings" saga - aside from all the great writing and art - is to see how month after month, issue by issue, readers are gradually discovering how "Nova" and "Guardians of the Galaxy" and "RoK: Inhumans" and"RoK: Imperial Guard" all reveal how the growing threat of The Fault (and what lurks within) continues to spread. Like with "War of Kings," after it's all said and done, readers will hopefully look back and admire how the creators pulled out all the stops to weave one huge, entertaining story.
What can readers expect from Andrea Divito's pencils on the remaining chapters of "Riddle of the Sphinx?"
DnA: More sheer brilliance.
What do your plans for Nova include in 2010?
DnA: It's going to be his biggest year yet. This is where he finally gets to take his place in the front rank of Marvel heroes.
BR: If all of our plans for "Nova" come to fruition, you loyal readers can tell everyone "I told you so!"
Dan and Andy, You guys have been crafting Nova's adventures for about four years now. Do you see yourselves being finished with Richard Rider any time soon, or do you still have plenty of Nova stories you want to tell?
DnA: You know what, we've got a few left in the tank yet. You wait and see!
We want to mention how delighted we've been by all the terrific support Nova's received up to now - he has a very loyal and very devoted fan base, and it's fantastic to be engaged with all of you. Thanks and here's to a very very happy New Year!
BR: A tip of the Nova helmet to the creators, readers, reviewers and active supporters who helped all of us continue the momentum and expansion of Marvel Cosmic. We may not be the largest group, but as Cosmo might say, "You ain't seen nothink yet!"