There are some cliches in comics that I thought we were long past. Misunderstandings between heroes means they first fight each other, then team up to defeat the bad guy. A team that includes a savage, beast-like member. Any rip-off of the Spider-Man origin. And of course, moments where two groups have to fight each other, but are paired off one-by-one and each sent to a different place to do so. Like any cliche, there’s always the chance you can do something different with one of these situations (either in jest, or taken seriously). But more times than not, it’s the same old situation being repeated over and over again. And in the case of “Nova” #34, we unfortunately are getting just that.
At the end of the last issue, when Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning introduced five villains to fight our five heroes, I admit that I groaned. But I held out hope that maybe Abnett and Lanning had something up their sleeve, some sort of trick that would take this story in a radically different direction. (For example, the out-and-out, over-the-top comedy version of this kind of story Jeph Loeb and Ed McGuinness served up in “Hulk” #12 last year.) But instead, no, it’s fairly standard. Aside from a scene used to foreshadow the next big outer-space storyline, it’s almost startling how by-the-numbers this issue progresses. This might have been forgivable if this wasn’t also an issue where Nova seems to have taken a back seat in his own comic; his contributions here seem so minimal I had to stop and remember that he was actually around this month.
Guest art team Mahmud A. Asrar and Scott Hanna acquit themselves well here; stepping in for Andrea DiVito, they mimic his rounded, clean art style in a way that will mesh well with the other issues for the eventual collection. Some characters come across better than others, though. I like how Asrar pencils Namorita, for instance, with a lithe body that makes her look like a warrior rather than a girl in a bathing suit. Baron Bloodstone, on the other hand, manages to look more rubbery than Mr. Fantastic, and that’s a sentence I never should have had to write.
The idea of a time travel story where the villain is a character fighting himself has potential, but the comic seems to have spilled into the realm of predictable. With “Realm of Kings” coming to a conclusion next month, I’m guessing we’ll see the conclusion of this “Nova” storyline as well. At this point, I’m more than ready to see the character do something more interesting than this.