This week Sam Alexander, a.k.a. the new Nova, joins a small group of characters (like Harlequin and Firestar) who made their debut on television before jumping onto the printed page. Alexander made his debut on the Ultimate Spider-Man animated show, then showed up last year in the big Avengers vs. X-Men crossover comics event.
Now he’s got his own ongoing series by Jeph Loeb and Ed McGuinness. Does Nova once again soar, or does he fizzle out in his latest attempt at an ongoing series? Here are a few opinions on the first issue from around the web:
David Pepose, Newsarama: “Those who have met Sam Alexander through Marvel’s Ultimate Spider-Man cartoon, you might be a little bit surprised by this comics incarnation — Loeb brings a surprisingly dark edge here as he dives into the dynamic between Sam and his father Jesse. In a lot of ways, the Southwestern locale, the space angle and the focus on family reminds me a bit of Keith Giffen’s Blue Beetle, but the laughs don’t quite make it over here. Unlike the happy-go-lucky character on the TV show, Sam seethes with resentment—both for covering for his father’s alcoholism, and for enduring his larger-than-life tales as a member of the Nova Corps.” (7/10)
Matthew Meylikhov, Multiversity Comics: “One thing that’s clear, though, is that Loeb and McGuinness feel no real need to reinvent the wheel here. Truth be told, the only ostensibly detrimental part to the book is how paint-by-numbers it is. We’ve already seen origin stories like this in comics before, let alone other media, and there’s a fair chance that we’ll see origin stories like this again in the future. It’s just kind of a dull trope, one that has been diminished to an extent over time due to overuse. And yes, realistically, there are only so many origin stories that we’re ever going to get at this point in the game, but you’d imagine that for something as high profile as this comic wants to be that the books team might try a bit harder and not play it so safe.” (8/10)
Adam Shaw, Talking Comics: “Jeph Loeb provides an emotionally filled introduction into the life of Sam Alexander and his family. Sam’s dad, a former Nova corpsman, appears to be a dead beat dad. He tells his kids stories about his grand adventures in outer space, which Loeb uses to balance some of the more somber tones with more buoyant action. These stories featured other members of the Nova Corps as well as some of the Guardians of the Galaxy, so there is some indication that these two series will have some interconnecting stories, locales, or characters.”
Don MacPherson, Eye on Comics: “This story is missing a lot of things, and one of them is any sense of subtlety. Mind you, subtlety isn’t exactly something one expects to find in Loeb’s writing in recent years, so it’s not really a disappointment. Still, the ham-fisted juxtaposition of a heavily burden teen living in a town called ‘Carefree’ elicited a groan, as did, for example, the cameo of the principal from Back to the Future acting in a similar capacity here. As I understand it, this new incarnation of Nova is meant to serve in part as a replacement for Spider-Man in that Marvel doesn’t really have a teenage super-hero going through youthful angst while trying to live up the memory of a lost family member and ideal of responsibility. Loeb has certainly included a number of plot and character elements to fulfil that assignment, but by the middle of the issue, it felt as though I was running through a gauntlet of clichés and conventions rather than immersing myself in an engaging or entertaining story.” (5/10)
Paul Montgomery, iFanboy: “Sadly, neither Loeb or McGuinness lend the hamlet of Carefree and her youth as authentic or timely a voice as other recent teen hero adventures. While Loeb’s depiction of the Alexander family feels decidedly timeless and relatable, some interactions at school offer paint-by-numbers characterization. The choice to cast James Tolkan (circa Back to the Future) as bald, stern high school Principal Philbin registers less a winning homage than a jarring, ill-conceived cameo. That Philbin confronts Sam about his father’s lackluster job performance comes across as especially inappropriate. Chalk that up to character choice, but it’s also a heavy-handed contrivance to further compound Sam’s frustration with a cookie-cutter small town and the shame he harbors for his father’s perceived eccentricity.” (4/5)
Greg McElhatton, Comic Book Resources: “Over the years, McGuinness’ storytelling has continued to refine itself; he’s an artist who understands how to draw something big and powerful that blasts across the page, and a comic like Nova feels like it’ll be a strong match to those talents. I like that he’s also good with the less pulse-pounding details; the cross-cut between Sam’s father’s first story and then reality works well, and the cramped garage full of his father’s stuff feels more realistic than the ones you’d normally see in a comic.” (3/5)
Iann Robinson, Crave Online: “I also like that Loeb is writing a story anyone can get involved with. Nova is an old school character, one tied to a long and rich history. Instead of forcing new fans to dig through all the backstory, Loeb hands us a new Nova, one that is part of that history but you don’t need to be initiated into the series. There’s also a nice element of mystery with Nova #1, enough to push you into reading the next issue.” (7/10)
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