NOVA ANNUAL (2008) #1, written by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning, was an enlightening celebration of Richard Rider. For decades the character fell into obscurity, wandering in the shadows behind the bigger players and events. But that all changed with the Annihilation crossover event that launched in 2006. This storyline featured a universal threat known as Annihilus and its army of warships that were poised to destroy all that they find. And it is this story that sets the stage for 2008’s NOVA ANNUAL #1.
The story opens up in a peculiar spot (given the current stage of Annihilation): Rich’s pre-Nova time in high school. What’s more, the hero seems to have no knowledge of his alter-ego, which is made entirely apparent when the school bully takes him down with little difficulty.
Following the traumatic experience, Rich meets up with his friend Ginger bemoans the fact he’s so extraordinarily average. He notes how talented his family members are, showing us how much of a failure the poor boy believes himself to be. But before he can complain any more, an odd energy explodes from his body and places him in a coma.
It is here where the story gets particularly interesting. Instead of waking up in a hospital bed, Rich finds himself starring into the depths of space from a Nova ship. On top of that, the warrior realizes he’s over fifty years older and in charge of leading an attack on Annihilus. This time jump startles readers, making them question which version of Rich’s life is the “present.” But before he can learn anything about the new Nova Corps our hero faints and immediately finds himself right back on Earth in his “past.”
The narrative gives readers a sobering take of the hero of the stars, showing how far he’s come over the years at tremendous cost. We see a direct comparison between his humble beginnings with his future as Commander of the Nova Corps. But is Rich’s situation set in stone, or is there more than meets the eye?
The artwork within this issue was extremely well-done. Mahmud A. Asrar, Klebs, and Wellington Alves’s penciling, along with Juan Vlasco and Nelson Pereira’s ink work, brought our galactic heroes to life with the perfect blend of sleekness and sharp angles to make their Nova suits stand out against the backdrop of space. Guru-eFX’s coloring compliments these features well with a range of hues, from dark blues of deep space to the bright yellows representing Nova energies. In addition, VC’s Cory Petit’s lettering does a great job of varying font sizes to emphasize characters’ tone of voice, especially each time Rich shouts “Blue Blazes!”
Nic Klein’s cover illustration shows readers Rich in all of his power with a recreation of his first issue’s cover. The blast off pose is reminiscent of his first appearance decades ago.
NOVA ANNUAL (2008) #1 was a nostalgic trip to the past, equally mixed with a bleak future. Fans of Rich and the Nova Corps. will enjoy this sobering take on the history and his history.
Were you expecting the conclusion to this issue? Let us know in the comments below!