Throughout its nearly 80 years, Marvel has been home to some of the comic book world’s most enjoyable and relatable characters. As with many superheroes, though, a time comes when their respective company kills off, retires, or alters a favorite hero to boost sales or as a change of pace. Laura Kinney (X-23) became All-New Wolverine (with Logan becoming, well, Old Man Logan), Jason Todd “died” as Robin only to return as Red Hood, and of course, Sam Alexander stepped in as Nova after Richard Rider lost his life saving the galaxy once again. Or did he?
Over the last few years, Marvel has teased that its new Nova run might include its original hero. During this year’s San Diego Comic-Con, fans got the goods they’d been waiting nearly six years for.
That’s right, Richard Rider is headed back to the MU again, donning Nova Corps uniform for the first time since 2010. Written by Sean Ryan and drawn by Cory Smith, Nova #11 finds Sam Alexander seeking answers inside the Worldmind, the Xandarian artificial intelligence that empowered Richard during many of his galactic quests. During his journey through the hive computer, Alexander discovers that the mainframe contains the memories of the destroyed race, as well as those of former Nova Corps members – but not the mind of his father, former Corpsman Jamie Alexander.
However, finding out his father is alive isn’t the only surprise for Alexander. During the psychedelic experience, Richard Rider slowly manifests in through the Worldmind’s omnipresence. The two finally meet, and Sam comes to understand that the Xandarian supercomputer has become intermingled with Rider’s physical and ethereal being. After delving into the true purpose of being in the Nova Corps, Rider convinces his young colleague to stay the course, before he’s enveloped back into the Worldmind. This may seem like the end of things, but a coda reveals Rider returning to his parent’s front doorstep on Earth.
Although it’s unclear what Richard Rider’s true status is at this point, it would seem the stalwart Corps member is at least returning to action to some degree – at least if his upcoming co-series with Sam Alexander sees on active duty. Of course, it remains to be seen whether he’s retained his powers on the trip home, as well as how his physical bonding to the Worldmind will affect him once back on terra firma. Bringing Rider back now, though, is perfect timing, seeing as Alexander is about to sign up for a tour of duty with The Champions and likely won’t be able to fulfill all his Nova Corps duties full-time. Also, as the Nova Corps dwindled from a once-strong force of thousands down to one (at least in the pages of Marvel), having two Novas around could be a great way to reboot the Corps.
Hopefully, Rider’s presence will bring with it more of the amazing scope of intergalactic adventures associated with his name. With the Guardians of the Galaxy stranded on Earth and Sam Alexander righting wrongs with the Champions, Rider may be Marvel’s means to return the Corps to its former glory. The long-absent Rider brings with him a probable connection to the powerful Worldmind, which could be a first step to rebuilding the Nova Corps, as well as repopulating the cosmos with all the rich interconnections of 40-odd years of Corps history.
Nova co-starring Richard Rider and Sam Alexander debuts on December 7, 2016.