The Kree Empire, one of the Marvel Universe's dominant interstellar cultures, has been locked in a cage with an enemy out to destroy them. That enemy, the Phalanx, has sealed off Kree space and begun infecting inhabitants with a techno-organic virus that affectively turns people into members of the Phalanx. Those not infected are killed and turned into fuel to power the Phalanx war machine.
A small band of heroes have arisen to fight the Phalanx, and their struggle is depicted in the pages of "Annihilation: Conquest." Richard Rider, the hero known as Nova, is not currently among these champions, but that doesn't mean he isn't doing his part to fight the Phalanx invaders. In the pages of his own title, "Nova," Rider has launched his own desperate quest to end the threat of the Phalanx before they wipe out the Kree and spread their techno-organic infection throughout the Marvel Universe. CBR News spoke with "Nova" writers Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning, known collectively to their fans as DnA, about the series.
"Nova" #4-7 tied directly into "Annihilation: Conquest" and saw Richard Rider infected with the Phalanx's transmode virus and turned into one of their elite "Select" operatives. With the help of the Xandarian Worldmind, the sentient supercomputer housed inside his body, Nova was able to break free of the Phalanx's programming and escape. The last few issues of "Nova" #8-10 haven't tied directly into "Conquest," but DnA says readers looking to experience the full tapestry of the story will definitely want to check these issues out. "We wanted to send Nova on an adventure that was closely related to 'Conquest' without actually binding him into the main event for its entire length -- otherwise Nova's book would have been engaged with 'Conquest' for the best part of a year," DnA told CBR News. "But readers will learn that issues #8- 12 do in fact connect to the Phalanx invasion, and the final issue of 'Conquest' will show how the two parallel stories dovetail."
After escaping the Phalanx, the Rider awoke in "Nova" #8 to find himself in Knowhere, a bizarre city housed inside the floating armored head of a deceased Celestial. In "Nova" #9, Rider assisted Knowhere's protector, Cosmo, a telepathic Russian dog in battling a threat to the city, before departing to begin the next leg of his journey. "Nova will be going back, but Knowhere (and Cosmo) will feature more significantly in our new project--'The Guardians of the Galaxy'!" DnA confirmed.
Nova departed Knowhere by entering a portal that was supposed to lead him to the far off world of Kvch, home planet of the Technarchy -- the originators of the Phalanx's transmode virus -- where he hoped to find a way to stop the techno organic invaders from wiping out the Kree. But instead of arriving at his goal, issue #10 found Nova trapped inside a Vore, a huge alien predator that hunts the space between dimensions. Inside the Vore, Rider was forced to confront his complicated feelings for Gamora, his former lover who had been transformed into one of the Phalanx's "Select" and was also trapped within the creature. To make matters worse, Nova's transmode virus, which the Worldmind had been holding in remission, started to reemerge and ravage him physically.
Rider escaped the Vore and entered the portal to Kvch, but his experiences inside the extra dimensional monster and the over events of "Annihilation: Conquest" have left him physically and emotionally drained. "He's strung out," DnA said. "He's not going to be able to take much more. His emotional state is determined by his physical state, and that's pretty poor. But he's determined not to fail."
Nova's fragile state is a big factor in the next chapter of his "Conquest"-related quest, "Nova Annual" #1, which hits stores on February 13. "The Annual will see Nova fighting the ultimate struggle to retain control of his own mind and body," DnA explained. "This will include not only explorations of where he's come from but also shocking revelations of what his future might be.
"This is a big story, with lots of huge action, but also one with moments of quieter reflection," DnA continued. "Without giving too much away, we're going to revisit Nova's origin (as a nostalgia fix for long term readers and for the benefit of newcomers), and we're also going to glimpse his future. We think it's a very special story, one that will delight and intrigue all of Nova's fans, with some playful homages to the past and some genuine twists and surprises."
DnA believe Annuals should be special events and not merely interesting side-stories, and have gone out of their way to make "Nova Annual" #1 the former. "The annual is embedded in both Nova's ongoing quest and the consequences of 'Conquest,'" DnA stated. "And it pays off heavily into both, whilst allowing us a moment to re-define who Richard Rider is, what he stands for, where he's come from and where he's going. It's pretty much essential!"
Three different artists, Mahmud Asrar, Wellinton Alves, and Klebs Demoura, will bring "Nova Annual" #1 to life. "All three are fantastically talented artists, and their individual styles help us to demarcate the individual narrative strands of the story," DnA said.
Following the events of the Annual, Nova's quest resumes in issue #11 where he finally arrives at his destination, the planet Kvch. "Nova gets to explore concepts that have only ever been mentioned before: the bizarre homeworld and the Technarchy crèche," DnA said. "He will indeed be meeting an old fan favorite, Warlock from 'The New Mutants,' the character who first introduced the Technarchy and the Phalanx to Marvel continuity. Nova really needs Warlock's help but is he in a position to give it?"
Not only does "Nova" #11 mark the hero's arrival on Kvch, it also marks the debut of new "Nova" penciller Paul Pelletier. "Paul is a fabulous artist and we've been fans of his for some time," DnA stated. "His work on 'Negation' at CrossGen proved he has the artistic chops to handle large scale science fiction stories and his excellent run on 'The Fantastic Four' confirmed his abilities as an outstanding superhero artist. Working with Paul has made us up our game as we want to challenge him with more and more outrageous and extreme ideas and visuals. So far, he's more than risen to the challenge and is knocking it out the park with every page!"
Nova's adventures on Kvch come to a conclusion with issue #12, and the events of the book will have the hero blasting back onto the center stage of "Annihilation: Conquest." "Nova will play a vital role in the conclusion to the 'Conquest' story," DnA confirmed. "Everything he's been doing for the last six months has been leading up to this point."
"Annihilation: Conquest" will have left Nova bruised and battered, but DnA have no plans to give their protagonist a day off once that story wraps. "If you think that 'Conquest' was a big challenge for Nova, wait till you see what's on the horizon in the issues following," DnA said. "It's big, it's purple and it devours worlds!"
NOVA WEEKEND continues tomorrow with series artist Paul Pelletier, and on Sunday with "Nova Annual" #1 artist Mahmud Asrar.
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