"Nova" Battles Isolation, Doubt as "Civil War II" Approaches

Sam Alexander, the title character of Marvel's "Nova" series, has his feet in two different worlds -- and as a result, he often feels like he doesn't belong in either. As Nova, Sam regularly fights global and intergalactic crime both on his own and as a member of the "All-New All-Different Avengers." But as Sam Alexander he lives apart from his fellow heroes in the small town of Carefree, Arizona, where he can't tell anyone about his superheroic extracurricular activities.

Sam's feelings of isolation have only grown with the discovery that his father, who he inherited his Nova helmet from, is still missing in outer space, and that a clone has been impersonating him for some time. In the next few months "Nova" writer Sean Ryan and artists Cory Smith (who penciled issue #7) and R.B. Silva (who will be drawing the story that starts in issue #8) will force Sam to confront his issues head on as they tell tales that cue up the new multipart arc of "All-New All-Different Avengers," plus tie into Marvel's impending "Civil War II" event.

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With "Nova" #7 on sale this week, CBR News spoke with Ryan about Sam's mental state, coordinating Nova's adventures with "All-New All-Different Avengers" writer Mark Waid, and the issues Sam will wrestle with during the book's "Civil War II" arc and after.

CBR News: Sean, let's start with the big reveal at the end of issue #6; the fact that Sam's friend, Blake, has discovered his secret identity and revealed it to his other friends. Who does this mean for Sam, and what might Blake and Sam's other friends do with this information?

Sean Ryan: This definitely sets up a rift between Sam and his friends. I can't say what they might do with this information, but they have a pretty strong conflict of emotions. I think they'd definitely be worried about Sam, but I think there's some anger there, too. They're teenagers, so obviously they don't have the best grasp on their own emotions. It's confusing. They're hurt, scared and maybe even a bit jealous. But I think mostly, they wish their friend was honest with them.

Part of the reason Blake was able to deduce Nova's secret was the fact that he's had a tough time dealing with the disappointment that his father has not really returned to Earth after all. So how is Sam feeling at the end of issue #6 where he and the clone impersonating his father have sort of made peace?

Sam's still pretty devastated that his real father is still out there, but he and the clone making peace at least gives him some hope about the future. The kid has been through a whole heck of a lot recently, so to have even a glimmer of something positive gives Sam hope that maybe more positive results are coming his way.

The search for Sam's father continues in "Nova" #7, an issue that also serves as a set up to an upcoming arc in the Mark Waid-written "All-New All-Different Avengers." What can you tell us about the issue and the Avengers story it sets up?

I don't want to divulge too much about Mark's Avengers story, but it's about the Avengers coming together to help Sam with his biggest problem, his missing father. "Nova" #7 is the issue that really pushes Sam to stop everything else and go out again to find his father. In our issue, Sam gets a message that leads him to believe that his father has been found -- but the positive results Sam was hoping for, those quickly evaporate. Sam can't hope for good news anymore, he wants to make it himself.

How accessible will the story Mark is telling in "Avengers" be for "Nova" fans who have yet to try that book? What's it like coordinating Sam's adventures with Mark?

I think it should be very accessible. All you need to know is that Sam's looking for his dad and, you know, who the Avengers are. Should be easy to pick it up. It's been sort of surreal coordinating Sam's adventures. I haven't really had much direct contact with Mark, it's mostly editorial coordinating things, but even so, to be coordinating on any level on a story with Mark Waid has been strange and awesome. I've been a fan of the guy for almost 20 years and now here we are. Pretty insane.

While one tale is unfolding in "All-New All-Different Avengers," over in "Nova" readers will get the book's "Civil War II" tie in arc. It appears this will be an arc that involves some difficult choices for Sam -- what can you tell us about his initial feelings on the ideological schism that arises between the heroes of the Marvel Universe?

Sam's initial feelings are confusion. He doesn't really get a great explanation of what's going on, so he's pretty out of the loop and fairly confused. And if he did get a solid explanation, I think he'd still be pretty confused. I'm sure Sam would be convinced by both sides of the argument. I think he'd just wish heroes would stop fighting each other.

How important a role will Sam's teammates on the Avengers play in your story? Are the choices he makes in this story susceptible to the larger choices his teammates make?

Not much. Our "Civil War II" story sees Sam mainly on his own, without his Avengers teammates. Once things starts going down, Sam looks for his teammates, but has a hard time finding them. Things are chaotic and, like I said, Sam doesn't haven't a good idea what's really going on.

What else can you tell us about the action, tone, and themes of your "Civil War II" arc?

The main theme of our "Civil War II" arc is Sam feeling left out. Sure he's an Avenger, but that doesn't mean he feels like he's part of the team. Everyone else seems to know each other and have closer ties to each other than Sam does to anyone else. And once the "Civil War II" action starts, no one fills Sam in on the details. So that only escalates Sam's feelings of isolation. Sam starts to feel he's not needed, and with all the heartache he's experienced lately, he begins to question why he should even continue being a superhero.

Your "Civil War II" arc is being draw by R.B. Silva, an artist who has done quite a bit of work for DC Comics including a run on "Superboy" -- so it seems like he'd be a good fit for a story about another superpowered teen. What do you enjoy most about his style?

I Love R.B.! I actually worked with him when I was an editor at DC Comics six years ago. He drew an issue of "Secret Six" for me. So I've been a huge admirer of his work since then. I think RB's work has tremendous energy to it. The action seems to jump off the page. And his details are tremendous. He recently turned in a page inside Sam's sister's bedroom and the little touches are just great.

Finally, are you able to hint or tease your plans for "Nova" beyond "Civil War II" without spoiling anything? How big of an impact will this tale have on Sam and his larger place in the Marvel Universe?

The immediate plan for Sam sees him heading back into space. The main thrust of the story is Sam learning about what is powering his Nova helmet. Through this story, I'm hoping Sam can learn about the Novas and rediscover why he chooses to be a hero.

Marvel's "Nova" #7 is on sale this Wednesday, May 3.

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