"Nova" #9 jumps the rails right away with some unattractive art choices and a typo, all in the first panel of story. Writer Zeb Wells and artist Paco Medina have their work cut out for them as they have to snatch the readership back from distraction and get the adventure back on track. The art choices are much more distracting than Vance Astrovik saying "Provably," but the one-two punch is pretty brutal.
While I love the energy Medina sculpts these characters out of, there is no avoiding the fact that all of them suffer from nebulous ages and anatomy that could use a brush up. Speedball's pose in that same first panel makes the very boxy looking (alleged) '92 Toyota pickup look like a repurposed semi cab. Additionally, there are some artistic inconsistencies, like the moving oven in the Alexanders' kitchen, that could be attributed to change in perspective from one scene to the next, but the perspective would have to be much more dynamic than it is in this issue. That is all topped off with a rash of sameface that threatens to homogenize the characters without help from Wells' script. The energy of Medina's artwork really shines through in the battle sequences and alien surroundings though, and Curiel's colors work well throughout, especially Nova's power-ups and power usage. If Nova were spacebound more often, Medina would rock this comic book, but he needs to refine the terrestrial characters, objects and places a bit.
For his part, Wells delivers a speedy, vicious battle between Kaldera, the charge of Thanos' general, Proxima Midnight, and Nova with Vance Astrovik and Robbie Baldwin joining the cast. Wells' characterization of both Speedball and Justice is awkward and clunky. I'm certain this is done to propel Nova into the spotlight, but it just sends off story alarms instead. For all her boasting about being a warrior, and Sam's near-catastrophic inexperience, it's a wonder Sam survives, but he fairly well cleans Kaldera's clock. Wells doesn't do much to make any of the characters overly endearing, but he does put a nice amount of action into this story. Honestly, the most interesting character of this issue is Kaldera and her story is far from over as Wells and crew illustrate on the final page.
In the end, "Nova" #9 serves as a quick close to one chapter while establishing groundwork for "Nova" stories to come as well as for the recently announced, upcoming "New Warriors" series.
This adventure feels like a fill-in, but still has fun along the way. Wells and Medina remind readers that the character of Nova shares more than the first three letters with the word novice in his attempts to balance both aspects of his newly-powered life. I'm not sure what's next for Sam Alexander, but this issue will have a hard time remaining top of mind until the next installment of the further adventures of the human rocket.