Somewhere along the way, I stopped following "Nova." I stuck with it up until about six or seven months ago, but once the build-up to "War of Kings" started, I decided to cut back on my weekly comic book purchases, and an easy way to do that was to drop everything related to the Marvel space opera saga. I sampled the first two issues of "War of Kings," and they were pretty good, but I didn't regret cutting out the related comics. Honestly, Geoff Johns and Peter Tomasi were doing this kind of space opera melodrama a whole lot better over in the "Green Lantern" books for DC, anyway.
So my reading of the preview copy of "Nova" #27 was kind of a test case for me. Would it make me want to start picking up the title once again? Would it make me jump back on board this "War of Kings" saga? Would it make me pine for an oversized collected edition of the works of Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning?
Mostly, the answer is a straightforward "yes." "Nova" #27 is one of the best issues of the comic so far (and keep in mind that I missed the last handful, but I read the first two years of the series). It's lean and effective, jumping immediately into a relatively complex wartime scenario without any sort of uncertainty. The text page that begins the issue might be a useful reminder of the current status of the Nova Corps within the larger scope of this cosmic battle, but it's not really necessary. Abnett and Lanning tell this issue's tale so crisply that all you really need to know is found in the panels. The larger context is implied through dialogue and actions, and though they provide some exposition, they keep it hooked into an emotional core about a man trying to save his brother, and a brother trying to prove his worth.
Richard Ryder leads a small Nova Corps team to find his missing brother, and his brother has a war criminal pinned down, barely. This whole thing is a giant, whirling chess game with the Shi'Ar Imperial Guard, the Nova Centurions, Blastaar, and troops from the Negative Zone converging on the same square. But like any good war story, it focuses on the human sacrifice and individual relationships that make the war worth fighting.
Andrea DiVito isn't a flashy artist, but he gives his figures heft and bulk. They pose and emote and gesture and scream and it all works in the service of the story. And, yes, it's a story that I'm looking forward to getting caught up with.
Johns and Tomasi may be doing something more ridiculously epic in the various "Green Lantern" and "Blackest Night" comics coming out this year, but Abnett and Lanning have held their own with this war in the realm of the Marvel cosmic. Really, it's the classic DC/Marvel dichotomy, with the former company delighting readers with extreme sci-fi ideas and iconic heroes, while the latter company makes even a space battle seem like a down-to-Earth street fight. Abnett and Lanning make that street-fight-in-space feel like it matters, and that's no easy feat.