Jeph Loeb Hands "Nova" To Zeb Wells

Wed, March 27th, 2013 at 10:12am PDT | Updated: March 27th, 2013 at 11:17am

Comic Books
Kiel Phegley, News Editor
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Paco Medina's designs for "Nova."

Marvel Comics teenage hero Nova has already rocketed from one end of the galaxy to the other in his brief time in the Marvel U, but starting with July's "Nova" #6 he'll be heading into a new world: a brand new creative team.

As part of their most recent "Next Big Thing" call, the publisher revealed that Zeb Wells and Paco Medina will be taking over the book from its second arc on, taking over for the departing Jeph Loeb and Ed McGuinness. Both writers and Editor Steve Wacker joined the press to discuss the move.

"This is a story that's been in the works for quite some time. Steve, Ed and I have been in the trenches of knowing where it was going...and as we kept trying to tell folks 'This is not a reboot. This is not a reinvention. This is another story' what's been so wonderful about Nova is that you can follow the exploits of different Novas," Loeb said, thanking readers who got behind the new hero and the new series.

As for the finish of his opening arc, Loeb said, "The first two issues was to set up how Sam came to get the helmet and to slowly start to learn what its powers are, but we've said from the very beginning that part of the fun of this story is sort of 'What would you do if you found Tony Stark's armor, and you had no way to [become] Tony Stark?'" he said. "I think some folks have seen the preview pages to the first pages of issue #3 where the Watcher shows Sam something 'Really, really bad.' And that will be our first adventure." The writer promised that the full origin of Sam Alexander in the Nova guise will be told by the end of his arc, and that it's end will lead back to the character's appearance in Marvel's "Point One" prelude to "Avengers Vs. X-Men."

Art from "Nova" #3 by Ed McGuinness.

As for the transfer, Loeb said, "So many times when a book is handed off to another team, the creative sensibility of the book changes. I've been part of those shifts, but this is not one of those cases." He promised that Wells' writing on the book would be of a piece with his take on Sam while Medina's art will fit well with the style McGuinness established. "This is by no means saying that Ed and I are going away forever and ever. The best part about Nova is that there are literally hundreds of stories to be told."

Wacker added, "It is fair to say that when we were thinking about the takeover because Jeph has so many commitments on the TV and animation side, the one thing Jeph kept saying is that 'We need someone like Zeb.'" The editor then promised that Loeb is working on another big Nova story to launch next year.

Wells came into the conversation saying he'd been following the book as a fan for months as Wacker had sent him art and notes for the series as it came together. He said the thing he was most excited for was to write a hero who was experiencing the Marvel Universe for the first time. "We're going to pick up after 'AvX' when Sam Alexander has been offered a chance to join the Avengers, but he also has to go home and explain where he's been," he said. "We're basically going to pick up with his relationship with his mother and explaining how he became a Nova."

Wacker compared the first arc to the "origin film" for Nova while Wells and Medina will be doing the sequel where the character is introduced to the rest of the Marvel Universe.

Pages from "Nova" #3 and #4.

The character's status as a new hero who's appeared across Marvel series, Marvel writers and Marvel projects like the "Ultimate Spider-Man" TV show came up during press questions, and Loeb said that Nova grew into a property that would be taken on by a number of different creators out of necessity. "I wanted people to be able to first meet Sam in the comics," he explained. "The odd part of it is that while it may look the other way around, when I came on to my role as head of Marvel TV, Nova was already in the plans for 'Ultimate Spider-Man' and Dan Buckley and Joe Quesada asked me to share with our animation team what was going on with Sam. Once one thing happened, everything spiraled from there.

"I think the short answer is that it's important that Nova is seen as a character throughout the Marvel Universe as it is with the Guardians and with Thanos. In order for that to happen, the best thing is for him to be appearing different places and handled by a multitude of writers and artists so people embrace him...this goes back to a real creative endeavor that [all the Editorial guys] started when we had a big summit where we said 'If we're going to start looking at these characters who had been in astonishingly cool stories that had been relegated into their own area where the concept of cosmic books had a very loyal fanbase, it needs to be incorporated into the Marvel U in a way that's exciting and daring.'"

Wells explained that for now, he and Medina are set for a five-issue arc, and that they are discussing long term plans with Wacker and Loeb for the series even as Wells is unsure what his schedule will allow for long term. McGuinness will stay on covers, however, even as he and Loeb's next project remains unknown.

Wells explained that for now, he and Medina are set for a five-issue arc, and that they are discussing long term plans with Wacker and Loeb for the series even as Wells is unsure what his schedule will allow for long term. McGuinness will stay on covers, however, even as he and Loeb's next project remains unknown.

"The history of comics editorial both at Marvel and DC over the past few decades has been to put up pretty big walls between the different characters," Wacker said, saying that they were trying to break the walls down so heroes wouldn't only deal with other cosmic characters or keep the Avengers off the stage in this book. "What's exciting to me with the Marvel stuff...is Nova coming over to meet the Hulk or meet Daredevil – to mix the waters a little bit."

"We have to keep in mind that at the end of 'AvX,' he was asked to be an Avenger," Loeb said, noting that the forward plans for Nova will mesh in some ways with Jonathan Hickman's long term plans for the Avengers franchise. The writer said that there were opportunities to bring Nova into the world of other teen heroes in the meantime including the mutant students of the Jean Gray institute.

Paco Medina art from "Nova" #6.

Wells will, however, keep a focus on Nova's smalltown roots as he remains tethered to his life in Arizona even as he steps deeper into the superhero community. "That's what first drew me in when I was reading Jeph's first issues: the sheer amount of story stuff that's in there," he said.

The group turned the conversation towards the potential of Sam's future in terms of how the legacy of Nova would impact his journey. Wells said he'd like to bounce the hero off of his favorite Marvel "B-lister" Speedball, which Loeb agreed would be interesting because of Speedball's connection to Rich Rider. In fact, Rich's history will impact the story in many ways. "To a certain extent, Sam's invitation to the Avengers was largely based on Rich's legacy," Loeb said.

But don't expect an investigation to start up right away into the life of the previous Nova. "When you're a kid, the last thing you're interested in is the history of your family," Wacker said. Loeb compared the task of telling the Nova story in the future to writing a TV show where you have to have a balance between character-centric episodes and mythology building episodes. "Sometimes it's more fun to grow than to discover," he said.

"Nova" #3 lands in two weeks. The second arc picks up in July's #6.

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TAGS:  marvel comics, nova, jeph loeb, zeb wells, paco medina

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