During New York Comic Con 2012, the publisher revealed that, as expected, the team of Jeph Loeb and Ed McGuinness will launch a brand new "Nova" monthly series as part of the Marvel NOW! line-wide initiative. The series stars Sam Alexander -- the new teenager who's been appearing on Marvel's [Dan] Abnett and [Andy] Lanning were wrapping up the Rich Rider saga, which we thought was just extraordinary -- Ed and I were and still are huge fans of their cosmic work. Then Marvel came to us and said, 'Do you have a take on Nova?' At the same time that was going on, we were starting production on 'Ultimate Spider-Man,' and it was an opportunity for Sam Alexander, the new Nova, to appear first in 'Point One' and at the same time in the animated series. It was really a chance for us to relaunch the character in a big, dramatic way. A lot of people had input in terms of our original pitch, which included Joe Quesada and the guys working on 'Ultimate Spider-Man' like Paul Dini and the Man of Action guys of Joe Kelley, Joe Casey, Duncan Rouleau and Steve Seagle.
Even though the TV development and series work happened at the same time, Loeb knew it was the comic which would contain the character's origins. "We built this in a way so that where we're going with Sam and his background was the story that Ed and I would tell first. When you see Sam in 'Ultimate Spider-Man,' that's him a ways down the road. That's when he's obviously very confident in terms of where his powers are and who he is and what it is to be a hero. What Ed and I set out to do from the very beginning was to tell a story that was more in line with how Marvel heroes have been introduced through the years: an ordinary person has something extraordinary happen to them. But we also wanted the opportunity to get this character out there, let people know there's a new Nova and that we were absolutely respecting everything that came before. We wanted people to know this wasn't a reboot and that we weren't ignoring the past. This is the next chapter in the lives of the people who were known as the Nova Corps, and it explores what Sam's role is going to be in all that."
That idea of "origin first" counts also for the comic appearances Sam has made to date as the series will explore what happened to the teen before he met the Phoenix Force in space. "The first appearances in 'Point One,' 'Point One NOW!' and eventually through 'Avengers Vs. X-Men' -- all those stories are tied together," Loeb said. "But they really are much further down the line in terms of what Sam does and why. What 'Nova' #1 does is start things at the beginning. The first arc that Ed and I are telling is, 'Who is Sam Alexander, and how did it happen that he got the helmet?' It's about what it means to be a Nova to a kid from a small town who never, ever thought that anything was going to come to him that would take him further than his own back yard."
The writer noted that he wanted to bring unique touches to both the Nova concept and the classic "teen hero" archetype as it's been seen in the Marvel U. "Sam is a very unique character and has a very unique character. I don't want to give too much away, because we'd like folks to discover who he is. But in terms of his being an outsider, it has some of that Peter Parker feel to it, but he's very different from Peter. Like many of the Marvel heroes, family is very important to him. Meeting his family and understanding what that relationship is going to be like is really at the heart of what we're doing.
"This is Nova from the beginning. By the same token, everything that happened with Rich Rider and the Nova Corps and the Worldmind and all of that happened. But as we know from the Abnett and Lanning stories, all of those people were wiped away. This is the story of someone who has to rediscover what Rich had the opportunity to learn about and had help with. And that's one of the issues that Sam will have to deal with."
Loeb is also excited to reteam with McGuinness -- the artist who he's had one of his longest and most commercially successful collaborations with over the years. He promised that fans familiar with their past work would see a different side of the Loeb/McGuinness team in "Nova." "I say it every time I get to work with Ed: the extraordinary gift he brings to the table is that he adapts. Every story has its own particular look and feel to it," the writer explained. "He wouldn't tell a 'Superman/Batman' story the same way he would tell a 'Hulk' story or the same way he'd tell the 'X-Sanction' story. We have known each other for -- I want to say 'decades,' because the first thing we worked on together was the 'Wolverine Annual '96.' I think a lot of people do know Ed for that big, bombastic, Kirby-esque look and power that he brings to the page, so being able to take all of that and now bring it down to Sam -- who is basically a kid, just a teenager -- means that Ed can't flex that big giant muscle. It makes everything smaller, but by the same token, we're working with a canvas which is the universe. So we get to be able to shift gears from something as big as a planet's destruction to the little town that Sam grows up with and has to deal with.
"There's an opportunity for us to do a story that's very human in its nature and very quiet in a way when we start things out. That's a place that I don't know people see Ed existing in because so much of what we do is big and bombastic," Loeb continued, explaining how the series will combine aspects of his writing career beyond the blockbuster action comics he's created with McGuinness in the past. "I think that this story -- at least the way it starts, because it will get gigantic in nature -- shows that we've really gone back to the kind of storytelling I do with Tim Sale on 'Daredevil Yellow' or 'Spider-Man Blue' and also that I did with Arthur Adams on 'Ultimate X.' This is a chance to get to know Sam and his world and how it compares and contrasts to the gigantic universe that's out there and the cosmic characters -- for example, how this ties in with 'Guardians of the Galaxy' and what Brian [Bendis] is doing there."
Yes, this book and the new team book announced over the weekend will both serve as cornerstones for Marvel's "Cosmic" universe, though this new era for the space characters will connect back to earth in new ways. "There's something very important about that world and these characters and how we integrate them into the Marvel Universe that we know and love so it doesn't always feel like they're a separate thing way out there. This is something that's happening to Marvel in the same way that you will get the X-Men, Avengers and Spider-Man together. Our end goal is to make Nova and the Guardians of the Galaxy feel like they're all part of the same cloth."