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Marvel Slugfest: Nova #10

Posted: Tuesday, January 15, 2008
By: Paul Brian McCoy / Robert Murray

Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning
Wellinton Alves (p), Wellington Diaz & Nelson Pereira (i)
Marvel Comics

Paul Brian McCoy: 2 BULLETS
Robert Murray: 4 BULLETS

Paul Brian McCoy: 2 BULLETS

Okay, I've officially lost my patience with this title. The potential is there, as always, but it just doesn't deliver, as always.

At the end of Nova's active participation in Annihilation: Conquest there was the possibility of interesting cosmic adventures, as Rich was launched to the furthest reaches of the universe, was being pursued by Phalanx-enhanced Gamora and Drax, and didn't really know where he was or how to get back. Then, the last two issues served up a story that had a couple of good ideas, but was mostly just poorly defined (if there was any definition at all) threats and horror movie cliches. It was very unsatisfying and there was absolutely no explanation for any of it -- the station, Knowhere, the talking Russian space dog, alien superheroes, none of it.

The only thing actually accomplished in the issues was the furthering of Rich's infection by the Phalanx transmode virus. And even that was done in a way that really didn't make much sense. Then it turns out Nova isn't actually done with Annihilation, as, with no real explanation, Rich is given the coordinates to Kvch (is anyone else amused that the Phalanx home world is named similarly as the Yiddish word for persistent whining complaining?), the "lost home world of the Technarchy, the 'parents' of the Phalanx," so off he goes to do something -- it's not really clear what.

Oh and then, as a plot afterthought, Gamora and Drax show up, kill a bunch of people and teleport after him.

All in all, it was big, dumb, and didn't really live up to any of its potential. I think I scored it 3 bullets, because I was hopeful about that potential for future issues. Well I'm done with dat shit.

This issue is just a bunch of silly, pseudo-romantic "drama" that literally serves no purpose beyond wasting a month, showing us that Gamora and Rich loved each other but were wrong for each other, while getting chased around by multi-colored jellyfish-looking alien babies. The whole issue takes place in a giant gestation sack of a creature called a Vore. The alien babies want to eat Nova and Gamora, like they eat another strange alien trapped with them, a Pachyceph Voidnaut. And guess what? It looks vaguely like an elephant. Get it? Pachyceph? Pach = elephant (although it doesn't really equate in Latin, but elephants are pachyderms, right?) and ceph = head. So it looks like an elephant. I don't know what a Voidnaut is, but it sure sounds cool, doesn't it? Anyway, it doesn't matter, because he's only there to be eaten, so we can see how dangerous the multi-colored jellyfish alien babies are.

And that's it. That's the entire issue. Except for many pictures emphasizing Gamora's ass and boobs while she and Nova "team up" to escape.

Oh, and where's Drax through all this? He's outside, on the Vore, shooting it and shouting "Are you in there?" until Nova shows up to toss an unconscious Gamora on him and zip away. Drax's final words in the issue? "Ryder!" shouted like Dean Wormer shouting "Delta House!"

This is just a waste of my time. But because I'm obsessively reading Annihilation: Conquest, which also isn't very good, by the way, I'll keep reading it until Annihilation is finished. Then I'm done.

Robert Murray: 4 BULLETS

I donít know how anyone else feels about Nova, but I think that it is one of the best titles being produced by Marvel right now. Period. Iíve liked the series ever since I read the first issue of Annihilation: Nova, which proved to me the storytelling skills of Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning. They manage to blend all the elements of entertaining comic book fiction into each and every issue of Nova, making it one of my true monthly pleasures. And Abnett and Lanning always have a highly talented art team enhancing their fine tales even more. Wellinton Alves is illustrating a Nova tale as it should be done, with plenty of sci-fi action and imagery to keep things exciting. Everything about this issue screams with dynamic action, suspense, and drama, as well as some symbolism that you donít find in a mainstream Marvel comic. But the main draw of this series, and this issue, is the amount of over-the-top action and excitement Nova and Gamora encounter while stuck in a Vore (explanation below). They battle to escape their situation while battling each other. As former lovers and current carriers of the Phalanx virus, the two stars of this issue are different sides of the same coin, one embracing the ignorant freedom of the virus while the other fights for a truer, costlier form of freedom. The results are intergalactic comic book magic.

Like I said, this issue focuses on the inner and outer conflicts of Nova and Gamora, and the story starts right in the middle of this conflict (though regular readers may be a little confused with the first few pages). We find out halfway through Issue #10 that both of them are stuck in a ďmonsterĒ called a Vore, which is an inter-dimensional predator that uses some of the catch of the day to feed its numerous spawn. Looks like Nova and Gamora are on the menu! However, this setting is only an excuse to keep these two compelling characters locked together in a room for twenty-two pages, and the results are well-paced and properly descriptive. Like an interstellar Adam and Eve, Gamora holds up the apple of near-invincibility for Nova if he will only succumb to the Phalanx as she has. She talks of their former love, hoping to bait Richard into letting his guard down, which will cause the virus to fully conquer him. However, Richard displays the human integrity that we all wish we had, fighting the corrupting influence inside of him while saving the woman he still loves, a woman who has changed into something he barely recognizes. Itís the kind of naive human sentiment that makes the cyber-logical Gamora state, ďYour motivations puzzle me.Ē Still, the man who possesses the Worldmind is no idiot, as his final scene with Gamora shows. They are reborn from the womb of the Vore just as Richard comes to his final decision on where his relationship with Gamora stands, making for a nice climax to the issue. Iíll just say that trust is something you earn, no matter how much you profess to love someone. Throughout this drama, Abnett and Lanning keep the action humming along, ending the issue with a brief cameo by Drax and Novaís inner war that will lead him directly into next monthís Nova Annual #1. Normally, Iím not a big Annual guy, but this one has the potential to produce some huge revelations for Richard Rider.

Also, next monthís Annual will feature the able talents of Wellinton Alves, a penciller I was completely unfamiliar with before this issue. With assistance from Wellington Diaz (Wow, thatís a coincidence!) and Nelson Pereira, he has produced panels that scream with kinetic intensity, which is perfect for a Nova tale. In addition, the clean lines and fastidious imagery are ideal for the outer fringes of the Marvel Universe, harkening some of us old fogies back to the days when comics still held more wonder than anything else. Issue #10 is a great looking tale that uses up each and every page of art with sci-fi goodness.

So, just to set the record straight, we have an Annihilation: Conquest tale that wonderfully incorporates romance, drama, action, and suspense into a standard comic book span. Iím sold, as you should be. Chalk up another Nova winner for Abnett and Lanning!

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