Thursday, December 22, 2011

Nova #23: "End of Story"

*** (three of five stars)

Favorite Quote:  "'Course, this would be worth real money if it was the rare "ponytail" variant."  -- Rich, contemplating his action figure

Rich is in Robbie's room at Project P.E.G.A.S.U.S., contemplating his brother's collection of Nova-related memorabilia and, possibly for the first time, realizing the extent to which his brother wanted to be him.  Quasar appears and tries to get Rich to talk about the fact that he's dying, but disappears before they can finish the conversation.  Meanwhile, on Nu-Xandar, Worldmind assigns the new Centurions to various tasks in their imminent involvement in the ongoing Kree/Shi'Ar War and opens a stargate to take the planet and the Corps to the front lines.  Robbie complains to Worldmind that he was placed on strategy and not combat.  At Project P.E.G.A.S.U.S., Rich is nearly arrested when H.A.M.M.E.R. takes over the facility.  He's saved by Dr. Necker (who pretends he's her boyfriend), who promises to help Rich find a cure to his condition, despite losing access to the Project P.E.G.A.S.U.S.' high-tech labs.  To this end, she takes him to a secret installation run by, in her words, "the people I...sometimes work for."  It turns out she has been a mole for A.I.M. at Project P.E.G.A.S.U.S. and Rich refuses her help as a result.  He leaves the installation, but Dr. Necker follows him, giving him Quasar's Quantum Flask, something she had planned on giving to A.I.M.  He and Dr. Necker share a kiss (in the rain...) and then he hurls the flask from him, saying he fears A.I.M. would get its hands on it after he died.  Unexpectedly, the flask explodes and Quasar emerges, declaring that he's recovered the Quantum Bands.  He gives them to Nova, who becomes the new Quasar.

The Review
The title of this issue -- "End of Story" -- is no accident.  DnA clear the decks here of several ongoing plots -- and kick a few up a notch while doing it -- in preparation for the "War of Kings" event.  I haven't really been the biggest fan of the post-"Secret Invasion" Project P.E.G.A.S.U.S. interlude and I'm glad to see it's over.  But, DnA at least give it a good ending, using its closure by H.A.M.M.E.R. as a way to bring a surprising resolution to Rich's "relationship" with Dr. Necker and solve his whole "molecular-disintegration" problem.  I'm still vaguely annoyed by the "Worldmind Gone Mad "sub-plot and I feel like DnA are dragging out the obvious threat to Robbie that Nova has been predicting since Robbie became a Centurion in issue #19.  But, I feel like we're getting closer to addressing both issues now, so I'm excited to see where DnA take us.

The Good
1) I thought Rich's scene in Robbie's room was the best one in this issue.  It shows Rich coming to grips with his brother's adulation (and jealousy) of him, something that he's clearly tried to avoid acknowledging for years.

2) As always, I enjoy the extent to which DnA incorporate other events in the Marvel Universe into "Nova."  Here, we see the repercussions of the "Secret Invasion" arc, with Norman Osborn's H.A.M.M.E.R. displacing Tony Stark's SHIELD.  It's a small moment, but DnA use it to resolve the annoying Project P.E.G.A.S.U.S. arc, and I applaud them for it.

3) As usual, DnA really excel in giving us some nuanced character moments throughout the issue.  The revelation that Dr. Necker was working for AIM was a great touch.  I totally didn't see it coming.  It makes her a more two-dimensional character than she's been portrayed as being, a nice way to end her story (even if it's not exactly an upbeat ending).  Moreover, DnA use Rich's response to the revelation as a way to show how much Rich has matured, as he lectures Dr. Necker on how her good intentions don't matter when you're dealing with an organization like A.I.M.  He doesn't dismiss her simply as a bad guy (as I think the old Nova would have done), understanding that she's misguided in her belief in A.I.M.'s doctrine of science over religion though genuinely wants to help him with his condition.  Similarly, their conversation in the car -- where Rich says that it's arrogance, not courage, that makes a good superhero -- also shows how far he's coming in understanding himself and his powers.

The Bad
1) As I mention above, I feel like DnA have been really heavy handed in setting up the obvious tragedy we're going to see involving the new Nova Centurions.  I feel like the question is more when, not if, characters like Lindy and Tre die, let alone Robbie.  At the very least, I'm just hoping we end War of Kings with Worldmind back in control of his faculties and Nova leading the restored Nova Corps.  Fingers crossed.

2) The Quasar deus ex machina was a little much.  Given that Rich was, in theory, dying, DnA had to do something to preserve him, obviously, but this way just felt like a cheap trick, something they usually go to great lengths to avoid.  At any rate, it should be interesting to see how handles his new powers.

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