The Nova Corps are entrusted with protecting all those who fall within their jurisdiction. A sort of cosmic police force, the corpsmen use a power called the Nova Force to ensure the law of the universe is upheld. From their home world of Xandar, the Nova Corps answers the call to duty for countless worlds. Not only relegated to dispensing justice, they catalog information on the deadliest criminals in the universe. Or at least they did, until Xandar and the Corps were destroyed by the Annihilation Wave. Their vast power and information was preserved via the Worldmind, an entity that attached itself to the Corps' last known survivor, Richard Rider. For a long time after this, Richard was the sole member of the once vast faction.
Multiple attempts have been made to rebuild the Nova Corps, the most recent incarnation even deputized the Guardians of the Galaxy into its ranks. Historically, the Corps is made up of beings from all over the known universe, though very rarely is a corpsman appointed from earth. Only a select few humans have joined the ranks of the Novas, Richard Rider and Sam Alexander being the most prominent. Covert off-shoot teams of Novas, deputized animals, former heralds of Galactus and entire planets have been added into their ranks. So, with such a varied, if tumultuous history, who are the strongest among the Novas?
In the newest attempt to rebuild the Nova Corps, the Guardians of the Galaxy were added to the ranks. A Guardian at the time, Ant-Man was deputized and assisted in the search for the newly relocated Power Stone. Much like his fellow Guardians and other new Corps members, such as Scott Adsit, he does not share any of the Nova Force.
Scott retains his Ant-Man abilities as a Nova Corps member. He is seen using a modified version of a Nova helmet with antennae, allowing him to talk to insects, much like his standard helmet. He is also still able to reduce and increase his size as appropriate with Pym Particles.
15 CAPTAIN AMERICA
Did you know Captain America himself once held the power of the Nova Force? Yup, the Star-Spangled Avenger was deputized by the Worldmind and took on the power of the Nova Force. During a Secret Avengers mission, Richard Rider was incapacitated and his helmet was replaced with a crown-like artifact that drove him mad. Retrieving his helmet, Steve was warned that the power of the Nova Force may be too much for him.
Cap being Cap, however, was able to shoulder the immense responsibility and used it to defeat Richard. This freed him from the influence of the ancient and terrible artifact. Following the mission, Steve returned the Worldmind and its power to Rider, now fully understanding the gravity of the Corps' power and the burden Richard carries.
Gabriel Lan was a former corpsman and captain of the Xandarian vessel, Way-Opener. On one of his missions, he is approached by Galactus, who offers to make him his herald. Gabriel accepts, becoming the herald Air-Walker, empowered by cosmic energy. Unlike other heralds, Gabriel became a genuine and close friend to Galactus during his service.
During his duty to prepare a planet for Galactus to consume, Gabriel is defeated by an alien race known as the Ovoids. Galactus attempts to transfer the last of Lan's life force into an android body, though it does not fully retain his personality. Gabriel has been destroyed in his android forms a multitude of times since, but he always bounces back.
The second Xandarian to serve Galactus, Pyreus Kril became a herald on his search for his missing friend, Gabriel Lan. Whilst travelling through space as members of the Nova Corps, the two were met by the Devourer of Worlds. He took Gabriel and spirited him away to be his new herald, Air-Walker. Not knowing where Galactus took him, Pyreus began a search across the galaxy.
By the time he found Galactus, Air-Walker was long dead. Pyreus agreed to become Galactus' new herald in order to learn his friend's fate, soon discovering that Gabriel had died in battle against the Ovoids. Pyreus was bestowed with the cosmic energy that turned him into Firelord. Immensely powerful, Pyreus has faced down Thanos, Annihilus and even Galactus himself.
12 SAM ALEXANDER
Sam becomes a member of the Nova Corps after finding and donning his father's helmet. With Richard Rider presumed dead at the time, he became Earth's primary Nova. He was also the one to warn Earth about the approach of the Phoenix Force prior to Avengers Vs. X-Men. He even played a pivotal role in defeating Cyclops in the event's climax.
Sam has had periods of service on several super-teams, including the New Warriors and the Champions. The fact that he wields a Supernova helmet means he's more powerful than a regular corpsman, which he has shown on several occasions. During the events of AXIS, his courage shown in facing down an altered version of The Hulk earned him a probationary membership on the Avengers.
11 EGO THE LIVING PLANET
At one point, the Worldmind of the Nova Corps bonded with Ego The Living Planet. The combined might of Ego and the Nova Force had the potential to devastate the cosmos. However, Ego corrupted the Worldmind and caused both entities to shut down. They were revived later on with the help of Richard Rider and Project P.E.G.A.S.U.S. and took the title of Nu-Xandar.
Ego deceived Nova, pretending that he'd been lost in the merging and tried to take some of his power. Failing this, Ego kicked Richard out of the Corps and began to recruit thousands into his new Nova Corps, with sinister intentions. Richard would return with the Quantum Bands to stop the mad planet, avoiding catastrophe for the universe. The Worldmind was transferred to the Resolute Duty thereafter, a rediscovered Nova Corps starship.
Zigzag is the faithful companion of the Bakian family. She is also a German Shepherd. On Battleworld, during the events of Secret Wars, she is first seen helping the Bakians survive in an environment still ravaged by the Annihilation Wave. The Bakian matriarch is Eve, a Nova Corps member who is believed to be in space fighting the source of the wave.
Eve returns to her family with items known as "Nova Stars" that, when placed on the forehead, the stars deputize beings into the Corps. To the family's surprise, one of the stars is used on Zigzag and it works! Taking to the abilities of a Nova quite quickly, the canine proves to be a formidable combatant. She is even able to sniff out Infinity Stones, managing to locate and retrieve the Reality Stone before Thanos.
During Annihilation: Conquest, Richard Rider manages to over-exert himself trying to answer multiple distress calls. The effort claims his life, his body crashes down on the planet Ko-Rel and her crew are stranded. Though the Worldmind can revive Richard, it would take a while and the planet was beset by the Ultron-Phalanx forces.
The Worldmind gave some of its power to Ko-Rel and asked her to protect Richard as he regenerated. Trying to juggle Richard's life and the life of her crew proves too much, even for the large amount of power she had as a Nova. The Ultron-Phalanx take out her crew whilst they indoctrinate Rider and a battle ensues between the Novas. Though not as strong, she puts up a formidable resistance until she is slain by the combined efforts of the Phalanx-possessed Rider and Gamora.
8 SCOTT ADSIT
Scott previously worked for S.H.I.E.L.D. for 10 years before joining the Nova Corps. Years of working in espionage and alongside superhumans such as Deadpool had given Adsit a wealth of experience. Though the newest incarnation of the Nova Corps does not share the Nova Force with recruits, Scott is a valuable member regardless of his unaltered presence.
Using his accolades and practical experience, Adsit has risen to the rank of Commander. His knack for logistics allowed him to help coordinate the Corps in their pursuit of the Power Stone during the events of "Infinity Countdown." A huge fan of Spider-Man and canadian prog-rock band, Rush, his password as a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent was "spideylover2112."
7 EVE BAKIAN
The matriarch of the Bakian family, Eve is a Nova Corps member and citizen of the New Xandar territory of Battleworld. She and her family faced down Thanos and prevailed, though she was trapped in the Soul Gem as a result. Following God Doom's defeat, Eve is next seen leading a splinter cell of Novas, protecting the Power Stone. Initially believed to be villainous, it is later revealed Eve has been embezzling funds with the sole intention to protect the stone.
When Adsit and the rest of the Nova Corps arrive to assist her, it is shown that she is actually pregnant. However, when they attempted to relieve her of duty she refused to leave her post. This resulted in her going into labor during the battle for the Power Stone, her baby being delivered by Gamora.
6 ANWEN BAKIAN
The eldest sibling of the Bakian clan, Anwen was brought into the core by her mother. Much like the other family members, Zigzag included, she was deputized by a Nova Star. Anwen is one of the more creative Nova Corps members, using her powers in conjunction with the Reality Stone. She is seen creating mecha armor constructs to enhance her Nova Force powers using the stone.
In an effort to stop Thanos, Anwen managed to deceive him by seemingly handing over the Reality Stone. What she had done instead, however, was use its power to craft an entirely new stone: the Death Stone. The stone's necrotic power turned Thanos to dust.
5 ROBBIE RIDER
Robert Rider is the younger brother of Richard and a former member of the Nova Corps. The smarter of the two brothers, Robert has a keen mind for tech and made a small fortune on earth selling software. His stint in the Nova Corps was much more brief than his brother's, however. In fact, he was believed to have died in service to the Corps in their battle against the denizens of the Cancerverse.
This was not the case, though; instead, he had gotten stranded on an abandoned planet while trying to return to Xandar to assist in redistributing the Nova Force. During his time on this planet, he is attacked by a fanatical group of Shi'ar Raptors. He was brainwashed and added to their ranks, later claiming the power of the mighty Nega-Bands.
Adomox is a former member of the Nova Corps, cast out due to his renegade meddling. Not happy with how much power he already had as a corpsman, Adomox managed to successfully hack his helmet to grant him a greater share of the Nova Force; with this hack, he formed the Black Novas. One of the first Black Novas was the father of Sam Alexander, Jesse.
Eventually the Nova Corps found out what Adomox was doing and stripped him of his power. Even with his helmet confiscated, Adomox remained a threat. He escaped and became the leader of a pirate space station known as Oblitus. He was eventually defeated by Sam during his quest to find his father. The Black Nova power would later be re-used by the "Supernovas," a covert branch of the Nova Corps.
Titus is a former member of the Supernovas. After being deserted by Jesse Alexander, Titus was overwhelmed by the Chitauri and lost various body parts in the battle. He would later return with cybernetic enhancements and a taste for vengeance. Titus sought out Jesse's helmet, believing it would lead him to his former friend. He found Sam instead, Earth's newest Nova, and decided to take the helmet from the boy.
After several battles, Sam tried to suffocate Titus in the vacuum of space. It is revealed, however, that Titus can breathe in space and continued to battle the young hero. Titus was then destroyed, along with a Chitauri fleet, by the Ultimate Nullifier. He would turn up once more to ambush Sam and Richard on Knowhere. How did Titus survive being destroyed by the Ultimate Nullifier? We've yet to find out...
2 JESSE ALEXANDER
Jesse Alexander is one of the original Novas to use the enhanced Nova Force distribution of the Black Nova helmets. He's also the father of Sam Alexander. Jesse was sent as an undercover agent to infiltrate Adomox's circle and learn as much as he could about the Black Nova helmets.
Later, the Nova Corps would use the Black Nova helmets to form the Supernovas. Jesse was made a member of this specialist force, though according to Titus, he abandoned them during a Chitauri attack, to witness the birth of Sam. Jesse remained on Earth for 17 years before returning to space. He was captured by the Chitauri and forced to fight in a gladiatorial arena. Though believed to have been rescued, this turned out to be a clone and the real Jesse's fate remains unknown.
1 RICHARD RIDER
Richard Rider is Earth's most famous representative in the Nova Corps. Taking on the whole power of the Nova Force in the aftermath of Xandar's destruction, Richard has experienced power like no other Nova before him. With the Worldmind, Richard has managed to escape death, using its power to regenerate.
When trapped in the Cancerverse, he was able to use the power of a Cosmic Cube to make himself a doorway in space, allowing Peter Quill and Thanos to return to the regular universe. On his own return years later, Richard was able to harness the horrific powers of the Cancerverse for a short time. Perhaps his proudest moment was avenging Xandar and his friends lost in the Annihilation Wave by defeating Annihilus, gruesomely rearranging him... form the inside out!