I am a fan of Marvel’s “cosmic” characters but I haven’t been following them for some years now (not since 2004, I reckon). I’ve tried to keep my mind in over the years [including Thunderbolts #100 (2006), the Civil War: The Return one-shot (2007) and the five-issue Captain Marvel limited series and The Mighty Avengers #19 (both 2008)], but none of those really seemed to strike my fancy. I don’t know what caused me to pick up the Thanos Imperative: Ignition one-shot a couple of weeks ago, but I had previously read the six-issue “Samaritan” story (Thanos #7-12) by Giffen and Lim (i.e., “someone other than Starlin”), so I figured what the hell.

I know from previous experience that mentioning Jim Starlin’s name is immediately going to polarize the opinions of those reading this, but to them I say to re-read (or read) his last major “cosmic” trilogy for Marvel (Infinity Abyss #1-6, Marvel: The End #1-6 and Thanos #1-6) in a single sitting (as I did just this morning) before rebutting.

Reading Thanos Imperative: Ignition was like opening the floodgates to the past several years’ worth of Marvel’s “cosmic” comics and doing so convinced me that someone other than Starlin can write cosmic Marvel comics. Initially my intention had been to follow just the Thanos Imperative limited series, but after two issues, discussions with Alan and Dagwan, and some research on my own, I decided to backtrack and pick up some of the series I had inadvertently “trade waited.”

I the days to come I will be starting at two different points in the cosmic timeline: at the very beginning with the Annihilation Book 1 tpb (collecting Drax the Detroyer #1-4, Annihilation: Prologue one-shot, and Nova #1-4) as well as Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 1 (collecting issues #1-6). In addition, I will be discussing future issues of Thanos Imperative in this thread as they are released.

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Nova was a 70s attempt to get another Spider-Man (teenager gains super-powers, has family and friends and problems, learns about responsibilty, etc). He had the potential but not the connections.

As for Infantino and giving the series a DC flavor, the Comet was a homage to the Flash. Definitely not a coincidence!
Not only that, but the villain that first attracted me to the series, Blackout, was very Silver Age Flash-y. What's more (and I have no recollection of reading this the first time), in that same issue a student in the background at Rich rider's high school says to his girlfriend, "So I told Barry he was really slowing me down," to which she replies, "Oh, Wally, did you!?"
At this rate, Nova could have joined the Teen Titans!

And Barry showed up after his *death* in Quasar of all places, winning a super speed contest with little memory of his past and calling himself "Buried Alien". When asked how did it feel to the fastest man alive, he replied, "It feels...right!"
Those unofficial crossovers can be fun: Clark Kent and Lois Lane in an issue of Walt Simonson's Thor, a post "Emerald Twilight" Hal Jordan in a mental ward from an issue of PAD's Hulk, and my all-time favorite, Steve Englehart's Mantis to Eclipse's "Scorpio Rose" via DC's Justice League: "This is no jail, eh? Avenger her!"
Philip Portelli said:
At this rate, Nova could have joined the Teen Titans!

And Barry showed up after his *death* in Quasar of all places, winning a super speed contest with little memory of his past and calling himself "Buried Alien". When asked how did it feel to the fastest man alive, he replied, "It feels...right!"

That is actually one of my all-time single issue comics. I loved it.
And he's wearing the tatters of a red costume!!

Mantis appeared in Justice League #142 in 1977, I believe. She had green skin and was pregnant and called herself Willow. The first time, this went right over my head. I thought she was a martial artist taken into space. But then, I only had the first part of the Celestial Madonna saga from Avengers #129. I didn't regularly (more or less) get Avengers until #137. So I couldn't connect the dots. I do remember Englehart's brief stay on JLA as a highlight.

I think maybe I wasn't the only one not get it as Willow got some votes in the new-member contest won by Zatanna!
I loved Nova at the time, but I stuck with it out of loyalty rather than enjoyment after Infantino came on board. His style was far too unrealistic to me at the time. I was far more a fan of the Sal Buscema/Tom Palmer art that came before it, and the transition was jarring. On top of that, I was really getting annoyed with excessive angst and melodrama that Wolfman was injecting the series with. I enjoyed some realistic problems ala Spider-Man, but Rich Rider became almost fatalistic towards the end.

Jeff of Earth-J said:
Figserello said:
You might want to go the whole hog and read the Nova Essential...

Okay, I did!

When I was very young I was eager to get in on the ground floor of any new title, but by the late ‘70s/early ‘80s I was more interested in completing runs of long-established titles. I was perfectly content to ignore, for example, She-Hulk (until she joined the Avengers and crossed over into Hulk #282) and Rom (until he crossed over into Hulk #296. So it was with Nova, but it was actually the appearance of the villain Blackout( in Avengers #236-237) which lead me backwards into Nova #19. I like what I read well enough to pick up the entire series as backissues. (That would have been 1983.) I read the entire series through once but I wasn’t impressed enough to read it more than once and traded it away shortly thereafter.

I just finished reading the entire series for the second time ever, though, and I must admit I am more impressed than I was the first time 27 years ago. Nova represents Marv Wolfman’s conscious attempt to imitate the old Marvel heroes of the ‘60s (and the addition of artist Carmine Infantino in issue #15 adds a bit of DC flavor as well). Marv Wolfman’s plots were more structured than Stan Lee’s early efforts, with subplots and characterization throughout. Here’s a brief run-down of the series’ main plots by issue:

1: Origin
2: Powerhouse and Condor
3: Diamond Head
4: Corruptor (guest-starring Thor)
5: Tyrannus (and Marvel bullpen)
6-7: Sphinx; Powerhouse, Condor and Diamond Head
8-9: Megaman
10-11: Sphinx; Powerhouse, Condor and Diamond Head
12: Crossover with Spider-Man
13: Sandman; Crimebuster
14: Sandman
15: Crimebuster; Nick Fury (CI)
16-18: Yellow Claw; Nick Fury
19: Blackout
20: Inner Circle
21: Corruptor
22: Comet; Diamondhead
23: Comet; Diamondhead; Dr. Sun; Sphinx
24: Comet; Diamondhead; Dr. Sun; Sphinx; Powerhouse; Crimebuster
25. All of the above go into space!

It’s obvious he had the entire arc (and beyond!) plotted out in advance from issue #1, but the problem is he took too long to develop it. (I had the same opinion in 1983, but I’ve grown to appreciate the structure more now than I did then.) Issue #20 begins the arc final story which barrels headlong to the series cancellation. Issue #25 really kicks the story into high gear, but by then it was too late. I think Wolfman wanted to establish Nova as a strictly Earth-bound hero before moving the series in a more cosmic direction, but I think the series might have succeed if he had moved the series to the next level around issue #12 or so.
5: Tyrannus (and Marvel bullpen)

I remember this one! It was reprinted in one of the Marvel UK compilation titles. It would have been published around the same time as the original US story. 27 years ago old

I remembered the Sal Buscema art before Rich mentioned it. (That Palmer inked it makes sense too, as it wasn't as 'pointy' as Sal B's art can sometimes be.) I also remember that the idea of the Bullpen being in the story kind of messed with my head a little bit.

I'm impressed that writers were working on long arcs and runs like that long before there was any idea of collecting them properly. Those creators were well ahead of their employers and had more of a vision for what could be done in superhero comics.
Wolfman, especially, if you consider his long runs on Tomb of Dracula and New Teen Titans. It is a commitment to a project, to strive for excellence while maintaining profit. Not the easiest thing to accomplish!
I’m still in a “Nova” mood, so yesterday I took advantage of my weekly trip to the LCS to fill in a little more of the character’s recent back-story I had missed. Specifically, I knew how he got his powers back, but I didn’t know how he hooked up with the Xandarians again. (Incidentally, Wikipedia gets a bad rap for incorrect information, but I find it useful for researching comic book stuff. Although not as well written, it is certainly more useful than Marvel handbooks when it comes to footnotes and issue numbers!) Anyway, yesterday I bought Nova (1994 series) #1 and 18 (the series’ last issue) as well as New Warriors # 40-42 and 75 (also that series’ last issue). I had to smile at the opening paragraphs of Fabian Nicieza’s editorial from Nova #1. It could have been written by me (‘cept he writes lots more purtier)! I’ve gained new respect for Nicieza lately. Take it away, Fabe!

Faster Than a Speeding Bullet by Fabian Nicieza (excerpt)

That’s how long it took me to realize that I didn’t like THE MAN CALLED NOVA when it first came out in 1976. I was starting to sow my comic book oats at that time, starting to get oh-so hoighty-toighty and semi-literate (anything written by Steve Englehart and Steve Gerber!). I was fifteen, you see, and how could I enjoy a silly comic about a guy with a bucket on his head when I was so busy enjoying deep, meaningful comics about Celestial Madonnas, Bozos and Bambi. Yeah, I was so smart then. I even knew that Marv Wolfman was purposefully trying to duplicate the feel and tone of the original SPIDER-MAN series right down to the nebbishy main character with the alliterative initials. Being young, I thought they were trying to be so sneaky and subtle about that (not bothering to notice that the first issue cover literally said, “In The Tradition of SPIDER-MAN!” right above the logo).

Yeah, I was a real shrewd judge of quality back then. Didn’t like NOVA. I knew it right off the bat.
Nicieza has rarely 'wowed' me. He might have a good attachment to his characters, maybe he's good at dialogue, maybe he's good at telling long-form stories that spread out over several issues.

I think where he falls down for me, is that he often has trouble making a single issue in a series 'about' its own thing. Even where other writers are writing chapters in longer tales, they can make a single issue within that have a unity of thought or tone or subject. Nicieza's issues all blur into one another.

Having said that, his Hawkeye mini-series "The High Hard Shaft" was enjoyable, showcasing Hawkeye the Blue-Collar hero.

Nicieza's masterpiece for me has to be 'A Stake to the Heart' - the closing arc he did for the first Buffy comics series, which also doubled as a lead-in to the actual TV series. That was great writing, about moving on, and leaving behind what you can't fix. There are few TPBs where I've read the last page and then turned back to start over again straight away, but that's one of them. (Gaiman's World's End was another.)

Totally off-topic here, but did you ever get around to reading any of the original Buffy comics once you'd finished watching all the DVDs?
Nicieza has rarely 'wowed' me.

My “problem” with Nicieza (if you can call it that) is that he rarely seemed to be assigned to writing titles I had any interest in reading at the time. I’m thinking primarily of New Warriors, X-Force andThunderbolts, but I must admit that when I read The Adventures of Captain America I really liked it. I was reading Thor at the time the New Warriors made their debut, but I didn’t follow them into their own title (although I did buy and read a second print of it with a gold cover).

I recently followed Tom Grummet backwards from X-Men Forever into the Thunderbolts he did with Nicieza and I really liked those. That series led me to the New Warriors Classics Vol. 1 tpb which I read recently (but did not post a reaction to) in anticipation of some of the comics coming up later in this discussion. Might I even someday soon give X-Force another try? There is a Premiere Hardcover edition coming out in a couple of weeks.

Having said that, his Hawkeye mini-series "The High Hard Shaft" was enjoyable…

Is that the one with Jim Scully in it? I remember the discussion on the old board, but I wasn’t motivated to buy and read it myself at the time. I wasn’t even considering buying it for the Skull the Slayer discussion, but if Nicieza wrote it, the synchronicity of my current reading interests may suck me in. But, drat! I just took advantage of MHC’s 40% off sale to place an order yesterday! (One of the comics I ordered was Gold Key’s Mircobots, BTW.)

Totally off-topic here, but did you ever get around to reading any of the original Buffy comics once you'd finished watching all the DVDs?

[SPOILERS for Buffy comics] I read the one collection of the chronologically earliest material when I thought it was safe to, but while I was still making my way through the TV series for the first time. The editor had decided to retroactively insert Dawn into those stories because that’s the way Buffy remembered them, but I kind of spoiled the first appearance of Dawn for myself and was scolded by Ana for doing so.[END SPOILERS] After I finished watching the TV series I moved directly into the Season Eight comic book tpbs, but by the time I got current and waited for the next one to come out, I had lost the story. My long-term plan is to wait until Season Eight is complete and has been collected, re-watch the final season of the TV show, and read it then. Concerning the earlier material, after that we’ll see. I’ll more likely skip over to the Angel: After the Fall collections at that point.

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