***** (five of five stars)
Favorite Quote: "What happened to you, Surfer? You've changed." "I serve Galactus. I have chosen this destiny. I-- I do not have to justify my actions to you." -- Nova and the Silver Surfer, acting as if Nova is expressing disappointment over Surfer going corporate at their ten-year college reunion
A disembodied entity (later identified by the name "Harrow") possesses the bodies of refugees fleeing Galactus, who is in the process of consuming their planet, Orbucen. Meanwhile, Nova agrees to help the Adjudik, a city official on Orbucen, in evacuating, conceding that Galactus is too far along in the process to stop him. However, Nova expresses outrage when the Adjudik wants him only to help the upper classes, and departs to a "vulnerable population center" to help its residents evacuate. Upon arriving, he encounters a Harrow-possessed guard, who dies fighting Nova. Harrow attempts to leap into Nova, but Worldmind erects psi-barriers that block it from doing so. It leaps instead to another body, and Nova captures it with a "localized gravimetric node." He deposits the Harrow-possessed body with the Adjudik so it can later be brought to justice and departs to continue facilitating the evacuation. It's then revealed that Galactus' apparatus is creating such electromagnetic interference that the ships can't depart. Nova tries to appeal to Galactus, but is interrupted by the Silver Surfer, who attacks him for approaching Galactus. Surfer removes them to the planet's surface (away from Galactus' "immediate range of perception") so that they can talk without annoying Galactus. Hearing the plight of the refugees, Surfer agrees to shield the ships so they can flee. Nova returns to pick up Harrow, only to discover its essence has escaped the body Nova had trapped. Nova tacks down Harrow in its new body and confronts it as it attacks the last remaining refugees, but discovers that the entity has found a way to free itself from his "node." Worldmind beseeches Nova to escape, because Galactus' electromagnetic interference will soon hinder its ability to create a stargate. Nova ignores the warning, stressing the need to bring Harrow to justice. However, he believes Harrow to be destroyed when both of them are caught in the ignition blast of the departing ship. Worldmind berates Nova for dooming them, though Nova asserts that they can use the syphons connected to the planet from Galactus' ship to escape. He makes his way up a syphon, only to have Worldmind "burn out" as a result of trying to maintain Nova's shields. (Nova is left with the suit's "user support system," who's a lot less...um...charismatic that Worldmind) Nova searches the ship for Surfer, but learns that Harrow -- in its original form -- is on the ship as well, having stowed away there years ago to feed off the chaos Galactus causes. Nova battles Harrow, only to be interrupted by the Surfer for destroying part of the ship. Nova reveals Harrow to the Surfer, who, outraged by its use of Galactus, presents it to Galactus, who destroys it. Galactus allows Nova to live, though the Surfer warns him that Galactus "never spares anything twice." Nova then departs -- still Worldmind-less -- to continue answering distress signals.
6) Um, I'm really worried about Worldmind...
I love this arc. It's vintage Nova. DnA have always been great with light-hearted banter between Nova and Worldmind, but they seem to go beyond that here, also giving us some hilarious moments between Nova and Surfer. At the same time, they give us an interesting mediation of how Richard still has trouble acting on a cosmic scale: in the middle of the destruction of a planet by Galactus, he's still trying to bring a criminal to justice, still attempting to stick to a fairly Earth-bound moral code despite the risk it posed to him and Worldmind. If only more authors were able to write this well more often...
The Really Good
DnA give us an arc full of humor and wit, despite the fact that we're dealing with, you know, Galactus destroying a world and a homicidal maniac feasting off the anguished population as they attempt to flee their oncoming destruction. The Nova/Worldmind interactions are some of the best DnA have ever written. Worldmind replaying the audio file of Richard telling it he wouldn't take on Galactus as Richard goes ahead and takes on Galactus? One of the funniest moments I've seen in comics. Worldmind chastising Richard for getting them killed when it appears they're going to die with Orbucen? Excellent. Moreover, the conversation between Nova and Surfer in issue #14, with Nova being all "Man, we used to hang," and Surfer being all, "Dude, I've got a job now" was just awesome. It's just a great reminder that, despite the growth Nova experienced during and since "Annihilation," he still occasionally acts like a twenty-something bro. In fact, I'd go so far as say it's actually kind of nice to see a bit of the old Nova, now that we've put the "leading half the population of the Universe against the Annihilation Wave" business behind us. Don't get me wrong; I don't want to see a return of the jackass we saw in Erik Larsen's "Nova" series of the '90s. But, I also don't want to see Nova become, I don't know, "Wolverine." DnA do a great job of making sure that, after spending some time on the darker side of the spectrum these last few issues, we see some more of the lighter side in this arc.
1) I liked how DnA set up this story. In the first few pages, it's more or less unclear what's happening exactly. At first, I thought the entity (who we alter discover is called Hallow) that narrates the first few pages was behind the destruction of Orbucen. The revelation that it's Galactus -- and that Hallow is merely a psychotic entity that engages in murder sprees during chaotic scenarios -- was really well done. The opening sequence got you really engaged in the story, since you were trying to ascertain what exactly was happening to Orbucen. DnA could've just started with a shot of Galactus or the Silver Surfer, but we actually don't see them until much later in the issue. It's that type of attention to detail and embrace of innovation that makes them so good.
2) Similarly I liked how they give us a mystery to frame Galactus' destruction. Again, they could've just gone with a straight Galactus story, with Richard railing against the Adjudik's decision only to save the elites and racing against time to save the "underclasses." But, DnA kick it up a notch by making us wonder how Hallow is going to rear its ugly head. It's why the "Knowhere" arc was so fun as well. It wasn't just a "Nova lost in space" story; DnA gave us a mystery as well. As I said in that review, they really excel in these types of stories, where they go beyond standard comic-book tropes and tell an overarching story with several layers. I don't think I could ever get tired of reading them.
3) The images of Nova "confronting" Galactus at the end of issue #13 -- and of him having no idea, literally, what hit him at the beginning of issue #14 -- were just awesome. DnA usually use Nova and Worldmind's interactions to inject comic relief in their stories, but the sight gags of these incidents were both awesome and hilarious.
4) The end of issue #14 is intense. DnA consistently imply throughout issue #13 and #14 that Nova's obsession with bringing Harrow to justice is a little...misguided, given the fact that he could be concentrating more fully on evacuating the dying world. The fact that he ends issue #14 trapped on Orbucen as Galactus is feeding -- all because of his single-minded pursuit of justice -- is, as I said, intense.
5) Whoa, I did not expect Harrow to appear in issue #15! The twist here -- that Harrow embedded itself in Galactus' ship because he was the perfect host for an entity that fed off misery -- was great. I really thought it died in issue #14, and we were going to spend issue #15 with some sort of additional Nova/Surfer plot. But, no, DnA unexpectedly (but totally logically) keep Harrow in play! Good stuff.