WARNING: This article contains spoilers for Infinity Countdown #2 by Gerry Duggan, Aaron Kuder, Mike Hawthorne, Terry Pallot, Jordie Bellaire and Cory Petit, on sale now.
The cosmic hero known as Nova is in the midst of a resurgence in popularity. In addition to his expanded role in the comics, Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige recently revealed the studio sees “immediate potential” in the character, fueling long-held hopes in fans hoping to see him debut in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
As for the comics, fan-favorite Nova Richard Rider is back under the gold bucket helmet and is a featured playing in Infinity Coundown, where heroes and villains alike battle for possession of the powerful Infinity Stones. One such battle is taking place between Nova and the Guardians of the Galaxy versus the Fraternity of Raptors, lead by Talonar.
Though readers know Talonar's true identity, it's been kept a secret from our heroes. But when Nova comes face-to-face with the man behind the Talonar helmet, there's a callback to a pivotal moment in Richard Rider's superhero career from his days with the 1990s supergroup, the New Warriors.
The New Warriors burst onto the scene in 1990, bringing together super-powered teenagers from various corners of the Marvel Universe. Along with being the team's cosmic representative, Nova was arguably the strongest New Warrior with his control over the Nova Force.
Of course, the New Warriors made many enemies during their time as a group, but none struck at the team quite like the street gang the Poison Memories. Their leader, Kimeiko Ashu, slept with Namorita after a night of drinking, stealing her address book in the process. Inside the book contained the personal information on the New Warriors and their family members, which the Poison Memories used to launch an assault against their loved ones in the "Family Values" story arc of New Warriors #37-39.
Perhaps the greatest hit to the New Warriors' extended family came when Rage's grandmother was killed in her home. The death of Ms. Edna Staples caused the young hero to truly live up to his codename, leading to a new violent attitude and costume change. But every Warrior was affected, including Nova.
Rich Rider was forced to listen over the phone as his kidnapped brother, Robbie, was tortured and had a finger cut off. Not one to let the loss of a finger keep him down, Robbie recovered and even joined the Nova Corps to fight alongside his big brother. However, Rich went missing after he became stuck in the Cancerverse, leaving Robbie to go looking for him on the remains of Xandar, home of the Nova Corps. It's here where Robbie would be captured by the Fraternity of Raptors and brainwashed to join their ranks as Talonar in All-New Guardians of the Galaxy #11. At the same time, Rich was also looking for Robbie, after a recorded message of Robbie was discovered showing he was alive as well.
Now, with Drax and Eve Bakian in the fight of their lives against the Chitauri Warbringer and Talonar as they protect the Power Stone on Xitaung, the Guardians and Nova rush in to offer support. Once Nova and Talonar face off, the villain quickly questions if the Nova in front of him was Richard Rider. When Rich began to wonder if this was a case of an evil alternate reality version of himself out for revenge, Talonar removed his glove to reveal a hand with only four fingers.
Loyal fans of the New Warriors immediately recognize the significance of this moment. After being apart for years, the Rider brothers are reunited at last -- the only downside is they find themselves on opposing sides of the Infinity Countdown war for the Infinity Stones.
The Poison Memories' attack on the New Warriors was a monumental moment for the team, and was the first time the team had been targeted on such a personal level. Talonar referencing his injury is evidence enough that the New Warriors story arc is still meaningful to this day. Now, all that remains to be seen is whether Nova and Talonar can put aside their differences to fight side-by-side together again.