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Oped: Nova: The Showdown with Marvel Editorial

The Cosmic Triune

An Opinion-Editorial

By

Timelord

 

Nova:  The Showdown with Marvel Editorial

 

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Now is the time for all true Richard Rider Nova fans to come to the aid of their favorite character.

As everyone now knows, Bendis will reveal the fate of Richard Rider in Issue #18 of his GotGINO (Guardians of the Galaxy In Name Only).  This development has been met with a great deal of consternation from Rider Nova fans worldwide – and for good reason given Marvel’s treatment of the character and fans of the character over the past two years.

A little background is in order.  The Annihilation event and subsequent Nova (Volume IV; 2007-2010) series redefined the Richard Rider character from the teenage Peter Parker-ish inspired iteration originating in Nova (Volume I; 1976-1979) and persisting in slightly modified form over succeeding volumes to a mature, powerful, battle-hardened leader of men.  Fans of the character celebrated this major change for the better, and most long-term fans believed that their favorite character had finally actualized the potential they had always longed for but only rarely glimpsed in the character.  Writers, Giffen and DnA, had recognized the same potential as the fans and acted to bring it to fresh, stunning and imaginative life; while most prior writers had merely focused on trying to re-create Spiderman.  In essence, with the new and improved Richard Rider Nova, we had a Nova for a new generation.

As an interesting aside, I’ve had personal communication with Marv Wolfman, creator of the Rider Nova character, and he indicated to me that he intended to take Rider Nova in the same direction as Giffen/DnA of more mature space-based adventures had his original series not been cancelled.  Essentially, the Peter Parker-ish similarities were originally used to sell the idea to Marvel Editorial and to get the comic book buyers of the 1976 era to give the series a try, but he always intended to evolve the character into something better, more mature, and unique for the era.  Sadly, Marvel Editorial has not shared such vision for the character and has been determined to keep the character/concept a “One-Trick Pony” – stuck forevermore in “pale imitation of Peter Parker” mode.  And that brings us to NINO (Nova In Name Only).

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As we all know, the best and all time fan-favorite Rider Nova iteration, Volume IV, was placed on “hiatus” in 2010 prior to The Thanos Imperative event.  Then Marvel EIC, Joe Quesada, stated that sales were not a factor in that decision; so fans naturally assumed that the series would resume after The Thanos Imperative event.  So we waited.  And we waited some more.  And we eventually learned that “hiatus” is apparently “Marvel-speak” for “cancellation.”  We then learned that Jeph Loeb had hijacked the Nova concepts and was replacing Rider with an obnoxious 13-year-old teen Peter-Parker-ish personality/storyline.  In other words, Loeb was back-stepping to the old clichés we’d finally overcome – in essence creating a “Nova” (In Name Only) for a past generation by once again re-packaging Spiderman, and in ultimate disrespect of the loyalty of the Rider Nova fans, he believed we’d buy anything with the word, “Nova,” smeared across the cover of the book. 

Marvel Editorial was complicit in the disrespect of the loyalty of the Rider Nova fans; suddenly declaring Rider “dead” (though the same treatment didn’t apply to Thanos, Drax, and Star-Lord since they were going to be in a movie soon) and therefore in need of a “replacement” even though Volume IV writers, DnA, had clearly stated in several interviews that Rider was merely temporarily “marooned” in the Cancerverse.  In an insincere attempt to assuage outraged Rider fans, Marvel EIC, Axel Alonso, said he expected the Rider Nova fans to “embrace” NINO and then faux-canonized Rider’s now ret-conned “death” as something too special to undo.  Yeah – right.  Somehow Rider’s “death” was too special but Thanos’, Star-Lord’s, and Drax’s same story/same cause/same event/same “death” wasn’t quite so special?  Hey Alonso – disingenuous much?

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I coined the protest term, NINO (Nova In Name Only), to set Loeb’s version apart from all other versions of true Rider Nova comic books.  We’ve now been afflicted with 16 cliché-filled issues of NINO sullying the concepts – all of them ranging from bottom-of-the-barrel to mediocre in quality.  Despite tons of marketing hype (that Volume IV never received) and numerous variant covers (featuring Deadpool of course), publicly available sales figures have ranged from nearly equivalent to less than Rider’s Volume IV sales – so Marvel Editorial, where’s the beef?  Where’s the proof that NINO is a better concept?  You’ve got none.  Despite your best efforts, NINO is a failure – critically and financially.  And when fans point that out, they are immediately attacked by one or more Marvel Editors (you know who I’m talking about).

So now Bendis is poised to tell us Rider’s fate.  Given his driving of GotGINO into the ground, I’ve previously described looking forward to his take about as much as I’d look forward to root canal surgery.  Many theories have been floated as to which comic book cliché Bendis will choose to explain Rider’s death.  Some believe Bendis will just flat out kill Rider as a means to solidify NINO in place as the goofy teen Lone Ranger “idiot” (Loeb’s own description of his own character) that Marvel Editorial seems to desperately want to sell.  Another theory is that Star-Lord was forced to kill Rich to escape the Cancerverse. Others have posited that Bendis will give Rich the Parallax treatment and turn him into a Shuma-Gorath-possessed villain before killing him as a means to formally hand the torch to NINO.  Another theory is that Thanos absorbed Rich’s powers and if Rich returns at all he’ll be de-powered.  Still others think that Jesse Alexander and/or Sam Alexander are time/alternate-universe-displaced versions of Rich. There are probably many more clichés I’ve failed to mention.  But so far, few believe that Rich will be brought back into the 616 to take his rightful place as the mature, powerful, Nova-Prime as that would be too much of a threat to the NINO that Marvel desperately wants to sell; even though NINO has been soundly rejected by most of Rider Nova fandom.

What I find most disturbing is the passive complacency many fans exhibit – acting as if there is nothing that can be done to affect the outcome of this process.  Might I remind you that Joe Quesada encouraged us to vote with our dollars?  It’s very simple.  If you want Rich back, stop buying NINO and send an email to Marvel telling them why you’re not buying NINO and why you want Rich back in his rightful place as Nova Prime.  Encourage all your friends to do the same.

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As far as I’m concerned, the only acceptable outcomes for GotGINO #18’s story of what happened to Rich Rider is for Rider to be returned to the 616 as Nova Prime intent on re-building Xandar and The Nova Corps or for Rider to be left alive marooned in the Cancerverse as a freedom-fighter for a better writing/editorial team in the future to bring back to the 616 once NINO inevitably and deservedly completely fails and is cancelled.

Let’s get organized and begin a showdown with Marvel Editorial.  Let’s make a pledge to kill NINO if Marvel kills, de-powers, or uses one of the other clichés mentioned above to marginalize Rich Rider.

What do I mean by “kill NINO?”  NINO is teetering on the edge of cancellation already – and NeWINO (New Warriors In Name Only) featuring NINO as the headliner character premiered to cancellation threshold sales.  It would just take a small push to end NINO and NeWINO

If all the true Rider Nova fans still buying NINO and NeWINO in vain hope of Rider’s return to Volume IV-era glory are once again disappointed and disrespected by Bendis’/Marvel Editorial’s upcoming explanation of Rider’s fate, and they would simply join the rest of us in boycotting NINO and NeWINO, then  NINO and NeWINO would be pushed into cancellation and Marvel would reap just punishment for disrespecting us and our favorite character.   With the most recent issues of NINO and NeWINO only selling 22K and 23K, respectively, a few thousand less buyers and both are done. 

It’s a very simple message to Marvel Editorial:  You allow Bendis to kill or otherwise marginalize Rich Rider, and we kill NINO and every other book in which NINO appears.  We also boycott all NINO merchandise and boycott the Ultimate Spiderman cartoon and the rumored upcoming GotG cartoon if it features NINO.  Better no Nova than NINO.

Hey – we’re just doing what Joe Quesada said and voting with our dollars.  We have the numbers to deal the death strike to NINO and GotGINO if Marvel once again disappoints us.  I say we use our power to maximum advantage.

Nix NINO!  Long live Rich Rider!

DISCUSS THIS IN THE COSMIC BOOK NEWS FORUMS

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Read More about Oped: Nova: The Showdown with Marvel Editorial

Op-Ed: The Lo(e)botomization of Nova

The Cosmic Triune

An Opinion-Editorial

“The Lo(e)botomization of Nova”

 

Lobotomization:  to deprive of intelligence, vitality, or sensitivity.

                                                     -Definition courtesy of Merriam-Webster Dictionary

 

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According to Marvel Editorial, Issue #10 of NINO is the 100-issue mark of “Nova” comic books published.  I dis-respectfully disagree.  I count 90 issues of true Nova comic books and 10 issues of Nova In Name Only comic books.   It’s insulting to equate Nova with NINO in any way, but Marvel Editorial’s whole approach to the Nova fans since the “hiatus” of Volume IV has been insulting.  They frequently talk about Rich and NINO in the same breath as if there’s no difference between the history of the two.  Hey Marvel Editorial – they’re not interchangeable.  Rich was great.  NINO is a farce.  And a sub-standard farce at that.

Sure I know it’s just a marketing gimmick to try to improve the rapidly declining sales of the ongoing insult to and dis-respect of true Nova fans that is NINO, but I think this “occasion” calls for an analysis of how the “creative team” of Loeb, Wacker, Bendis, Brevoort, and Alonso took a good concept and ruined it for all the wrong reasons.  I liken their process of turning Nova into NINO to the above defined dis-credited Neurosurgical procedure of lobotomization as popularly portrayed in such movies as One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and Sucker Punch – and I refer to their process as “Lo(e)botomization.”

 

The Deprivation of Intelligence:

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Loeb himself has been directly quoted in various articles saying NINO should be written as an “idiot.”  I could stop writing this section directly after such a quote, but I think it’s important to detail how this Lo(e)botomization is made a reality and how it affects fans of the true Nova concepts.

Let’s start with a little Nova history.  In 1976, Rich Rider was created and portrayed as a late teen/young adult struggling to learn how to control and use the powers he had been granted by an emergency deputization.  Finally, in the Annihilation event, he was transformed into a powerful and mature leader of men.  Fans both old and new praised this metamorphosis, and Nova Volume IV became the best Nova series to date with its imaginative, intelligent, action-packed storylines and its new and improved hero.  Of course, it received none of the marketing hype and support that NINO has enjoyed, and it was eventually placed on “hiatus.”  What we didn’t know is that prior to “hiatus” it was apparently decided by Alonso et al to declare Rich “dead” even though Volume IV writers, Abnett and Lanning, have been quoted as saying that in their storyline Rich was never dead but merely temporarily “marooned” in the Cancerverse.  Obviously, Rich was declared “dead via editorial fiat” in order to create room for Loeb’s new “idiot” character, Sam Alexander (aka NINO).

Setting aside Alonso’s disrespect for and disregard of Rich Rider fans for a moment, his decision marks the beginning of the “deprivation of intelligence” aspect of the Lo(e)botomization of Nova.  Loeb immediately created a 14-year-old Peter Parker-ish character (without the Parker intellect), hi-jacked and watered-down the look and concepts of the Nova mythos, eliminated all true cosmic elements by plopping the little “idiot” on Earth in a one-horse town, and set out to appeal to a pre-pubescent audience (and to a small post-pubescent audience who just can’t seem to get enough of hackneyed teen angst storylines) with silly, implausible stories involving the “idiot,” NINO, blundering and cheating his way through every situation.  To say that the NINO storylines are juvenile, puerile, un-imaginative, boring, and intelligence-insulting in comparison to Volume IV would be an understatement.

To make matters worse, Loeb has presented no reason why NINO deserves to have or keep the powers other than that the powers are “inherited” by NINO from his drunken father’s “magic helmet.”  Even worse, 14-year-old NINO has had no training to use powers equivalent to the power of a tactical- nuclear-weapon-carrying fighter jet and is continually put in kill-or-be-killed combat situations with the full knowledge and consent of his (apparently negligent and unfit) parents.

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So readers are expected to believe that an “idiot” child can responsibly confront situations on Earth and in space for which he has no prior experience/training; that he can safely handle powers that could level a city without endangering himself and the public; that his parents have no problem with him constantly risking his life sometimes light years from home, and that everyone in the Marvel Universe is completely fine with it?  I don’t know about other people, but I like a modicum of plausibility in cosmic stories.   Loeb’s scenario for NINO is intelligence insultingly implausible.

And there’s a moral issue, too.  Why does Marvel/Disney believe it is perfectly moral to un-willingly induct a minor child into a para-military organization and place said child in kill-or-be-killed combat situations?  The rest of Western Civilization would disagree on moral grounds, and even as this article is being written the United Nations is forming a resolution condemning use of child combatants.  Since Disney makes its money selling entertainment to kiddies, do they really want to send the message that minor children performing combat operations is perfectly acceptable to their company?  If so, I can’t wait to read their official explanation justifying their position.

 

The Deprivation of Vitality

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In Annihilation, Nova Volume IV, and The Thanos Imperative, Giffen and DnA gave us a true Nova – a mature, powerful, effective, true leader of men actually leading other powerful beings to confront and overcome universal threats.   These were big stories with edge-of-your-seat excitement that left the reader anxiously anticipating the release of the next issue.  These stories talked up to their readership with adult themes and high-stakes situations where literally anything might happen.

In contrast, we have NINO stuck in a small town dealing with schoolyard bullies and blundering/cheating his way through the occasional boring confrontation with a super-villain.  Yawn.  Have you read that teen super-hero story somewhere before?  How many times?  Yeah – me too.  Loeb, Brevoort, and Wacker present this hackneyed, puerile non-sense that talks down to readers as if it’s something new and special.  In actuality, it’s old, boring, listless, clichéd, and utterly predictable.  Loeb even made sure to kill off all the “Black Novas,” the only truly innovative and exciting idea he had in putting together the ongoing travesty that is NINO.  Those characters were much more interesting than NINO – and readers said so.  Once again, Marvel Editorial ignored the readership and retreated to the clichéd old angst-ridden teen superhero formula.

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What was vital about Rich Rider’s Nova, and potentially vital about the “Black Novas” had they been developed, was the “military science-fiction” aspect of the characters/storylines.  What made modern Marvel Cosmic (i.e. the Marvel Cosmic of the Annihilation event forward until hi-jacked by Loeb and Bendis) vital, new and interesting were the elements incorporated from both popular military science-fiction/science-fantasy (e.g. Star Trek and Star Wars), hard-core classic written military science-fiction (e.g. Lensmen and Starship Troopers) and written heroic fantasy (e.g. John Carter of Mars).  This was made possible because the pre-Loeb/Bendis Marvel Cosmic was niche-audience focused and largely ignored by the “super-heroic fantasy” selling, mainstream-oriented Marvel Editorial staff.  Once a Guardians of the Galaxy movie was announced and expected to be a big hit, Cosmic suddenly moved from “neglected niche” to the forefront.  It then, of course, had to be made to conform to the “super-heroic fantasy” formula that Marvel sells, so the very essence or vitality of what made Volume IV of Nova and Volume II of Guardians of the Galaxy was discarded and replaced.  In the case of Star-Lord, we went from the Giffen/DnA  “approaching middle-aged,” scruffy Han Solo-ish characterization to a 20-something feckless dream-boat-ish characterization.  In the case of Nova, the powerful, mature, leader of men that was Rich Rider was replaced by an “idiotic,” blundering, immature, obnoxious, teen Peter Parker-ish character sans the saving grace of the Parker intellect.  In both cases, the Cosmic aspects of the characters were made incidental rather than central, and we’re left with un-interesting characters obsessed with the petty and parochial problems of Earth.  Jeez, Marvel Editorial!  Don’t you have enough Earthbound super-heroes to deal with Earth’s petty problems without sucking away the vitality of the cosmic heroes just to make them conform to your comic book selling formula?  Ever consider maybe actually promoting a different approach?  Maybe if you’d supported DnA’s efforts the way you’ve supported Loeb and Bendis’, this article would never have had to be written.

 

The Deprivation of Sensitivity

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I’m not using sensitivity to mean “emotionality.”  Everyone knows Loeb has loaded NINO with enough smarmy, maudlin, and/or puerile sugar-sweet moments to send diabetic readers into a coma.  I know Disney loves that garbage – just watch any of their child-oriented movies if you don’t believe me.  For those of us over the age of 8 though – it just comes across as corny and annoying.

I’m using sensitivity as it’s used in a medical-scientific context to mean “reactivity to external forces.”  I’ve already discussed how NINO reacts to the external forces of plausibility and morality.  NINO gets a grade of “F” in reaction to those two external forces, and I needn’t re-iterate the ground already covered in previous sections of this article.  I touched upon what the fans really want under the vitality section and will cover it in more detail now in this section.

Brevoort has made it clear over on his Tumblr page that Marvel Editorial expected a backlash from Rich Rider fans once it was clear that Rich was to be replaced with NINO.  He has also made it clear that he thinks Rich had so few fans that the backlash would be of no consequence to Marvel or to NINO’s sales.  Alonso made it clear in several interviews that he thought Nova fans would buy ANYTHING with the word “Nova” smeared across the cover and he expected Rich Rider fans to “embrace” NINO.  Loeb simply said Rich’s story was “over.”  And Wacker has never missed an opportunity to insult, denigrate, and otherwise disrespect the Rich Rider character and Rich Rider fans in general over at a Certain Boot-lickingly Repellant website’s forums where he is given free rein to do so and where the moderators protect him from any fan talk-back.  Does that sound like sensitivity to a set of fans many of whom loyal Nova readers since Rich Rider’s premiere in 1976?  Heck – that doesn’t even conform to Disney’s model of hospitality.  Marvel Editorial Staff – you need to go on down to Orlando and undergo Disney’s Hospitality Training course.  You should probably send Wacker and Brevoort two weeks early since they’ll need the remedial (i.e. “slow learner”) version.

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Fact is, NINO is a failure.  It’s a failure conceptually, morally, in entertainment value, and – increasingly – in sales.  Potential buyers are voting with their dollars and for the most part they’re voting thumbs down.  NINO sells less than Volume IV sold without all the hype.  NINO has failed to be embraced in large part by the Rich Rider fans who feel insulted and alienated by the treatment shown them by Marvel’s Editorial staff.  Heck – even the cover to NINO #10 lavishly portrays an insult to long-term Nova fans with “idiot” NINO standing in a pose of defiant triumph with his foot on Rich’s helmet.  There’s a reason why something similar is NOT seen on any of our actual war memorials.  It’s because that’s a universal sign of disrespect to a fallen enemy.  Apparently that’s how Wacker et al view the Rich Rider fans and they’ve not so subtly made that clear with NINO #10’s cover.  If they wanted to show respect, NINO should have been placed standing behind his fallen BETTERS with his head bowed and his hands folded in front of him.  In a way though, NINO #10’s cover sums it all up.  Marvel Editorial isn’t sensitive to the desires of the Rider Nova fans.  Heck – they didn’t even care what we wanted.  They just wanted to dish up some warmed-over and “Lo(e)botomized” Spider-man.

Suggested further reading:

Marvel Editorial to Cosmic Fans:  “We’re just not that into you.”
 

Article by Timelord

Dedicated to Loeb, Bendis, Wacker, Brevoort, and Alonso for their tireless efforts toward making Marvel Cosmic mundane enough to appeal to the lowest common denominator of comic book reader.

The opinions reflected herein are purely the opinions of the author of this article and do not necessarily reflect the official opinions of CosmicBookNews.

Discuss This In The Cosmic Book News Marvel Comics Forums

Read More about Op-Ed: The Lo(e)botomization of Nova

Cosmic Triune: Nova: Rich and The Kid

(Editor’s Note: “The Cosmic Triune” is a series of opinionated articles focusing on Marvel Cosmic. Doug Smith, owner of the #1 Nova site on the net, The Nova Prime Page, offers his thoughts on the new Nova.)

 

Rich and the Kid

By Doug Smith

 

[[wysiwyg_imageupload:985:]]I hear there’s a new kid in town.

Marvel certainly seems to be pushing the Sam Alexander Nova (that’s assuming the Point One/Ultimate Spider-Man animated Nova is the same as the Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3 version).

And if Sam is the near future for Nova, I’m along for the ride for now (I don’t know if anyone can confirm this, but I’m guessing that Sam Alexander is Jeph Loeb combining his son, Sam Loeb’s first name, with his Heroes co-executive producer Jesse Alexander’s last name?).

I think Marvel is currently more interested in developing the concept of Nova versus the singular character of Rich Rider. To most comic readers, Nova is a teenager who received his powers from a dying alien warrior, and learned to use his powers while dealing with teen problems. However, Richard Rider has grown far beyond that at this point. We have had the extremely rare pleasure of watching a character actually mature into his full potential. Most superheroes, short of reboots, are given to us in a form they stay in for their publishing lives. So instead of trying to take Rich backwards, the decision was made to create a new Nova in the shape of Marv Wolfman’s original concept.

However, Marvel can also see the success of DC’s Green Lantern across different media, and realize they have a similar potential with Nova. Which is why it’s easy for them to leave DnA’s resolution for Richard Rider as is for now. And just speaking as a Nova fan, I feel Rich Rider was given the best superhero sendoff we’ve seen in a very, very long time. His sacrifice and the way he faced the situation was precisely the way I would expect him to face it. Thank you, Dan and Andy, for giving him the respect he deserved!

And Rich may actually benefit from this approach in the long run. Look at Hal Jordan. We had Hal for years with the concept of the GL Corps kind of always sitting in the background. Then we had new GLs to replace Hal (Guy, then John and eventually Kyle). As that cast of GLs grew, none of the four were lost for long when Hal returned. Now, DC has a rich GL line going with even different GLs in different media (Hal and John in separate animated series) with the GL Corps being in the forefront instead of just one member.

[[wysiwyg_imageupload:986:]]Since Marvel does not historically give the legacy aspect to its characters that DC does, plus the fact that we are talking about comics, the chances of Richard Rider returning at some point in the near future are solid. Marvel could simply be trying the GL Corps approach with the Nova concept. Sam will be built up and new fans will be made. Rich will eventually return as the experienced leader, and Sam the Kid Nova who now not only has to deal with teen problems, will also contend with another Nova who is vastly better at it than he is. Plus the post-War of Kings Nova Corps can always be brought back online (if they haven’t already along with Sam).

It could eventually mean multiple titles with Sam in one and Rich in another, and maybe even a brand new Nova Corps in still another. Rich’s title could be space-themed adventures like DnA had him in (and hopefully they would be brought back to write the new title). Sam’s title could be tied to Earth adventures with perhaps a spot in the Avengers.

And I’ll even take the other side, and say that if Sam is an “epic fail,” Rich can be brought back with no damage to his continuity. And the other benefit is that we don’t have to deal with Rich being de-aged, rebooted, or anything like that. Rich’s legacy is intact.

And let’s be honest, we’ve been really lucky from that aspect. We went 8 years from Rom #24 to Thor #411, and we got Rich back. Marvel easily could have started over with a new Nova instead, since it had been so long. Same thing every time Nova was given a new series: We got Rich and not someone else. And it’s been that way for 35 years. How many other heroes can claim that?

I guess what I’m trying to say is, I’m more than willing to give the kid a chance. Who knows? It might be the beginning of a whole new ball game for Rich Rider as well!

Read More about Cosmic Triune: Nova: Rich and The Kid

Op-Ed: Marvel Editorial to Cosmic Fans: ‘We’re just not that into you’

  (Editor’s note: The following article is part of an Op-Ed series on the state of Marvel Cosmic) Marvel Editorial to Cosmic Fans:  “We’re just not that into you.” “…in this case the sales on both of these books were not the main factors in what’s going on and what lies ahead in their futures.” …

Read More about Op-Ed: Marvel Editorial to Cosmic Fans: ‘We’re just not that into you’

The Cosmic Triune Plus One

BY: Managing Editor Byron Brewer

(Editor’s note: For the past few weeks, you have been reading The Cosmic Triune by the Cosmic Book News brass about the state – or lack thereof – of Marvel Cosmic. This piece by Managing Editor Byron Brewer presents another perception.)

I know how Joe Q. feels.

I think I know how Tom Brevoort feels.

I certainly know how Cosmic Book News publisher/editor Matt McGloin and other staffers and forum posters feel …

Feel about the lack of respect Marvel in general and its decision makers in particular seem to be treating us fans who are the backbone of its cosmic movement. With our base titles, Nova and Guardians of the Galaxy, “on hiatus” and probably never to return, we have been scrambling to get any piece of cosmic epoch left that we can, be it from Avengers, Thor or Chaos War and its infinite spin-offs, etc., etc.

Of course, some do not want to scramble. If it does not feature [fill in your favorite Marvel Cosmic character here; mine is the Stranger and he has been no where during the Annihilation buzz!], it is simply “not cosmic.” And besides, only DnA write such great tales, right? Of course, fans (like myself) of Jack Kirby, Roy Thomas, Walt Simonson, Jim Starlin, Steve Englehart and others may have something to say about that, if we are dealing with the long, broad picture.

But really, we are not. We are dealing with today. With a Thanos: Imperative that was a runaway sell-out hit, a critical success and the news that comes of wasted talent like Abnett and Lanning and Walker on an Earth-based book like Heroes for Hire. That, my friends, may be seen as a slap in the face to some Marvel Cosmic fans. Me? I am trying to see it as a simple waste of talent, and that is not unique to our industry.

How many years was Bill Everett, creator of the Sub-Mariner, alive and well and working in and out for Marvel before he was allowed his time at the character he created? Mere months before his death! The Silver Surfer was given his first book and who drew it? Certainly not his creator, King Kirby, but John Buscema (a nice substitute, but at the time a sub nonetheless). Don McGregor was making magic with the Black Panther in Jungle Action and suddenly one of the most beautiful, soul-searing storylines in history is interrupted by who? Jack Kirby, with a less-than-appealing arc or two for T’Challa. Same happened with Steve Englehart on Captain America.

The times, they aren’t a’changin’, kids. It has nothing to do with Marvel Comics, Marvel Cosmic or us as fans. It is the way “suits” think, perceive things in dollar amounts and flood, flood, flood. Ask anyone who was reading these titles when the bottom dropped out in the 1990s. Superman cannot save a DC line and Deadpool and Spidey by themselves cannot a Marvel Universe make.

The Marvel Universe. Called “your” universe. Yet some folks think that universe barely leaves Yancy Street, much less Manhattan. Where is the “Universe,” the wonder promised us in Fantastic Four #1 by Lee and Kirby? Will it die with the recently-announced Devastation?

No.

No, True Believers. For Lee and Kirby, Thomas and Buscema, and Starlin all by his lonesome proved that storylines can be attached to this mudball Earth and still be cosmic with a capital “C.” Read “The Hive” in the FF, wherein Adam Warlock (then Him) was born. Read most of the “Kree/Skrull War,” the ultimate cosmic tale, where most of the action occurs on Sol-3. Take a gander at “The Celestials Saga” in Thor, “The Korvac Saga” in Avengers … for Christ sake, “The Galactus Trilogy!” Many involve space or time-travel, but the main front of battle, of story is Earth. That does not make them less cosmic; that just makes them great Marvel Cosmic stories rooted on Earth.

I understand everyone’s cynicism. No one has enjoyed the tales of Nova, Star-Lord, the Guardians and Darkhawk as much as me (not even you, Bill!) and I have really been glad to see them occurring in deep space, a venue I have always loved, away from the madness of mankind.

As a 30-plus-year newspaperman and editor/writer for CBN, I always try to maintain a “glass-half-full” attitude, as you may have noticed. I am not Gomer Pyle, who never heard of Vietnam, viewing things through rose-colored glasses. But this is not a science class! This is supposed to be our fun, after all! Like the characters mostly appearing in What the D’ast?, I don’t mind searching for my Marvel Cosmic if Joe Q. is not willing to hand it out to me under a Realm of Kings banner. It is there to be found, if you look, despite what many of the MU architects have said.

But I would also use CBN as a “bully pulpit” to voice my objections and desires loud and clear, in a language ($$$$) Joe, Tom, Brian and others understand!

And never forget: Out there somewhere, beckoning, is the next writer with a pitch for a trend-setter like Annihilation. And we will be here to receive it!

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The Cosmic Triune: Definition Of Cosmic

The Cosmic Triune: Nova

The Cosmic Triune: Secret Avengers

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The Cosmic Triune: Definition Of Cosmic

  Hard Cosmic versus Soft Cosmic (Editor’s Note: Article was written in 2010: This is the third in a series of opinionated articles focusing on Marvel Cosmic. CosmicBookNews.com’s very own “Nova” and “GoTG” reviewer, Mr. Bill Meneese, offers up his opinions on just what “Cosmic” means.)   There has been considerable consternation on the part …

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The Cosmic Triune: Nova

 

It’s hard thinking about your favorite hero, who might be on a path leading upwards, when his title explodes into oblivion – even for one ironically named Nova.

After taking the lead position in Annihilation and becoming the flagship title for the cosmic line afterwards, Nova is in a precarious spot right now. With his book “on hiatus” and The Thanos Imperative quickly coming to its conclusion, what does the future of Nova hold?

Based on comments from Marvel, Nova won’t be back right away after The Thanos Imperative is over. Of course, with the sell-out success of Thanos, it’s possible that Marvel will green-light his book’s return. I certainly hope so, but I’m only cautiously optimistic right now.

Matt McGloin, Editor of Cosmic Book News, and I talked on Skype for over three hours a couple of weeks ago. We both agree that the decision makers at Marvel don’t seem to have a good grasp on what cosmic is to those of us who read it. To emphasize the point, I look to this quote from Marvel VP Executive Editor Tom Brevoort in response to questions from Matt:

“I think one of the reasons that we don’t do more to connect our Cosmic storylines to Earth is that it’s often difficult to make those kinds of storylines relevant to a wider mainstream audience without losing the appeal that they hold for the dedicated Cosmic fans.

We love the fans of our Cosmic titles, don’t get us wrong—but once you’re operating on such a scale and at such a remove from the day-to-day concerns of humanity, it becomes difficult to find those touch-points of relevance that really distinguish a Marvel story from what everybody else does.”

Now, it’s completely possible that I’m misinterpreting Tom’s meaning, but it sounds as if Marvel believes that what brings cosmic readers to the books are only the settings and scale — that “cosmic” means somewhere other than Earth and the threat has to be universal oblivion. At least to me personally, that’s only part of the attraction; however, just like the “Earth-based” series published by Marvel, what truly appeals to me are the characters and how they face the threat – big or small.

Annihilation succeeded for me because I was following a hero’s journey and evolution as a character. It’s Richard Rider’s very humanity that drew me in, not the fact that they were fighting Annihilus and a huge group of bugs (which was extremely cool – don’t get me wrong). Keith Giffen (along with DnA in Annihilation: Nova) made me care about the young man and how the United Front was going to turn back the threat. Isn’t basic survival the foundation of what Tom called “the day-to-day concerns of humanity?”

However, by thinking the setting is the key to cosmic, Marvel appears to be going down a bad highway. Instead of continuing what works with Nova and Guardians of the Galaxy, Marvel is attempting to marry the “mainstream audience” with us cosmic readers by taking perhaps better known characters such as Thor and Hercules and throwing them into a “cosmic” setting via Chaos War — and since it’s in a non-Earth setting and has Galactus, then all of us cosmic readers will automatically buy and love it, right?

Um…, no. Not for me, anyways. I have no interest in the characters in the series so I won’t be picking it up. To those who feel that we cosmic readers need to pick it up to show Marvel there’s interest in cosmic titles, and we’ll get Nova back as a result, I believe it actually sends the opposite message. If we buy it for just that reason, it says that we’ll drink whatever Kool-Aid Marvel gives us as long as it’s not on Earth and that they don’t need to bring Nova back because they can just plop Thor into a new book.

It has been shown that “cosmic” can do Earth bound stories very well. All of the issues of Nova where he came to Earth were excellent. The reason they were that good wasn’t so much where the stories took place, it was because of the character and how the stories were written. Abnett and Lanning are in the top-tier of writers around and they understand the importance of character.

Nova was able to maintain respectable and steady sales numbers because of the quality of the work and the attention to the characters in the book. The setting and threat were important, of course, but only because we cared about the people that threat was aimed at.

Just so it doesn’t seem like I’m Marvel-bashing, and to those who spew stuff about how Marvel hates cosmic and wants it to fail (although why anyone would think a business would want a property – something it has invested a lot into – to fail is beyond me), I do want to give Marvel credit along with a big thank you for what we have been given over the last four years.

It’s public knowledge that Joe Quesada isn’t necessarily the biggest fan of cosmic stories. However, he recognized that there is a market for it and saw an opportunity in what Andy Schmidt presented in Annihilation. When that series succeeded, instead of saying “that was great, thanks for the ride and good night,” he gave the green light for Nova’s title under Marvel Editor Bill Rosemann’s solid leadership.

With Nova leading the charge, Marvel allowed Bill and DnA to expand the cosmic line and grow it to a point we haven’t seen since the Infinity books of the 1990s. The quality of the work was so high that other writers now want to use Nova (Marvel Adventures Super Heroes and Secret Avengers to name two).

In Secret Avengers, Ed Brubaker has shown that you can be in a space/cosmic setting and sell a ton of issues if you make the story about the characters. Personally, I don’t think Nova was handled the best in #4. I believe Brubaker used the ‘Saving Private Rider’ arc of Secret Avengers to show the power of the Nova Force. While that was great and truly appreciated, it was also used as a tool to boost the greatness of his favorite character Steve Rogers and in return made Rich himself look like a tool at the end of the issue. I’m hopeful we will see Bru revisit the storyline in a later arc and show that he is truly a fan of Nova as he has stated. A solid showing of Nova as a character in a hugely popular series like Secret Avengers would go a long way to ensuring that he will be around for the long-term future. Plus, Nova is to be featured in the second season of Super Hero Squad this fall and will appear in next year’s Spider-Man animated series. Along with his role in Marvel Adventures Super Heroes and Secret Avengers, Nova’s future appears to be really bright.

However, my worry is the lack of any sort of news or teases of Nova’s title in the future. The convention season was extremely light on cosmic news outside of Chaos War — and absolutely nothing in regards to the fate of Nova and Guardians of the Galaxy as a whole. I’m hoping we will finally hear more at the New York Comic Con next month. On the one hand, I understand the need to generate drama and interest in the finale of The Thanos Imperative. It has been frustrating not to know if your favorite character is coming back either in a continuation of his series or in a relaunch. Some will say that happens all the time with the big name Marvel characters in an event. The big difference is: Nova is not considered by Marvel to be one of their big guns. Despite having everything that a publisher wants in a licensable character (power, personality, great costume, etc.), Nova has a history of being shelved after spiking in popularity. That difference is what worries me.

I easily can see Marvel deciding that the cosmic titles “need a break” and put them away for some years until a great pitch comes along or a new regime that is a big supporter of cosmic characters. On the flip side of that, I can see a genuine desire to wait until Thanos is closer to completion to make a decision and announcement based on sales of the series. It’s the internal conflict of it all that causes me consternation (I know that’s a big word for me [laughs]).

Bottom line is: I can’t imagine Marvel will blow up Nova while the character is burning so brightly.

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The Cosmic Triune: Secret Avengers

 

NOVA IS A SECRET AVENGER!

The Secret Is Out – Secret Avengers Is A Hit!

Over the last couple weeks I have been having conversations, regarding what happened to and what is happening with Marvel Cosmic, with Doug Smith of the Nova Prime Page and Bill Menesse, the CBN Nova and Guardians of the Galaxy reviewer quoted by Marvel in their press releases, solicits and catalogs.

This is the first in a series of opinionated articles, related to those discussions, that will focus on our various points relevant to Marvel Cosmic.

Our friends over at Newsarama posted the top ten sales for August with Secret Avengers #4 coming in at #5! That’s right, the Captain America led group of B-listers placed within the top ten once again. So far, the first issue debuted at #4, the second at #8, with the third at #10 (source: http://www.comichron.com). That’s a lot of readers following Steve Rogers, Beast, Black Widow, Valkyrie, Ant-Man, War Machine, Sharon Carter – and Richard Rider, Nova!

When Secret Avengers was first announced and Nova shown to assemble, Cosmic fans were split into basically two camps. On one hand, you had the readers that were ecstatic that guys like Nova were going to be exposed to a larger viewing audience through the likes of Ed Brubaker and Mike Deodato! On the other hand, fans that had grown accustomed to their cosmic heroes…not getting treated as well(?)…in earth bound books, were a bit cautious to say the least (kids might read this, guys!).

Without getting into specifics, the cosmic crew is all too familiar with the head honchos at Marvel being pretty vocal about the “cosmic“ genre. You can decide for yourself if its good or bad. Regardless, everyone was excited.

Oh, to be honest I belonged to the latter group – hey, I am a Quasar fan after all. Can you blame me?!

It became known that Mr. Captain America himself, Ed Brubaker, was actually a fan of the Human Rocket. In an interview with Newsarama, Ed had this to say:

“Oh yeah, I was on Nova from, like, Issue #1. That was really book as a kid, I think. When I first discovered that book when I was a kid, I was so excited. Even in the early ’70s, it was rare that you could get in at the beginning of a series.

And you know, he’s not in the book as much as I would have liked him to be because he’s involved in so many other things. He’s in his own series and other comics.

So he’s got a really significant role in the first arc, but after that, it’s going to depend on what they let me do.”

That was excellent news for Nova fans! I seem to remember Doug being particularly excited about Secret Avengers in our episodes of the United Front – Going Knowhere Podcast.

Our boy was finally going to get a quality showing in a big time Marvel mainstream title – and an Avengers one to boot! Thousands and thousands of Marvel zombies would be first exposed to the likes of Rich and the Worldmind, not to mention the power that is the Nova Force!

Nova had just been placed on hiatus when the Secret Avengers announcement came – or close to it. This article isn’t going into specifics with the Nova monthly (that is for another article), but from our perspective Marvel knew what they had with Richard Rider and were trying their best to continue to “push” (promote) the hero of Annihilation. After all, Nova has been announced to be a member of the Super Hero Squad with season two, talk of a Nova movie, Nova being a part of the All Ages Marvel Adventures Super Heroes and more! Good times, ahead!

I think you can see where this is going.

I’m not going to rip apart the first arc of Secret Avengers (I’ll save it for the forums), though I am literally biting my lip, or fingers I suppose, to stop myself from doing so — because after reading Secret Avengers #4 I (we? everyone?) was just so darn disappointed.

Does Steve Rogers need another title to boost his credibility as being “the man” at Marvel? And at the expense (at least in my opinion) of a lesser selling, not as popular, recently canceled character who, right now, could use one hell of a push!

Cap is already in an abundance of titles, took Norman out in Siege (where was Pete?!), is head of the entire world, starring in two blockbuster movies, has been on CNN — on and on.

Marvel, you have a great opportunity with Secret Avengers to really promote and introduce a group of lesser known characters to a HUGE audience. SA tie-in, Vengeance of Moon Knight #10, sold out (Where the d’ast was Nova’s?)!

Let’s give these characters a little time of their own to shine. Let’s continue to build up the Marvel Universe. Captain America, Spider-Man, Wolverine, Deadpool, The Incredible Hulk, Iron-Man and why not: Ant-Man! Moon Knight! Nova! Heck, while we are at it – Quasar!

That’s all I’m saying.

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