The final Marvel NOW! “Next Big Thing” press conference of the week is all about Nova, debuting in February from the creative team of Jeph Loeb and Ed McGuinness. We’ll be live on the line, asking questions and providing frequent updates, so keep hitting “refresh” on this page for the latest — things should start a little after 3 p.m. eastern. Interior art from Nova #1 is here.
“We sort of begin at the beginning,” Loeb says of Nova #1. “Ed and I are a huge Nova fans. Rich Rider fans, and the Nova Corps, and all of that amazing stuff that had been going on for decades.” Loeb called where Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning took the character “absolutely epic and heartbreaking.”
Loeb says readers will find out where the character of Sam Alexander is with the helmet and his new responsibilities, being the only Nova left out there — that we know of — and that the shadow of Richard Rider will hang heavy over him.
Issue #1 will pick up about six months previously, with Sam as a normal kid in a “really small town” in Arizona, which Loeb says he and McGuinness hope recall past Spider-Man stories, when Peter Parker was also just a kid.
Loeb says McGuinness surprises him every time they work together, which, as he notes, has been a long time. “If Sam Alexander is just 15, 16 years old, he’s a kid. It’s a much more quiet story, at least at the beginning,” Loeb says, of the book’s visual style. “In many ways, the story of Superman: For All Seasons, which was such a quiet story, about a boy learning his responsibilities to the world — that’s where a lot of this story comes from.” In turn, Loeb says, McGuinness is “drawing smaller,” while at the same time telling a story that’s “as big as the Marvel Universe.”
First press question, from us: How similar will the Sam Alexander of the comics be to his Ultimate Spider-Man animated counterpart? “I think we’re going to get there,” Loeb says. “Sam’s been that hero for a while now [in Ultimate Spider-Man]. There’s a little cockiness. I think that’s the journey that he’s getting to, but right now he absolutlely has a little of that cockiness, but there’s a hard road in front of him to get there. Even just knowing, as you’re reading this first arc, about learning the responsibilities of what he’s going to take on, the reader already knows that he’s a part of Avengers vs. X-Men. He played a big role in that last issue, and Thor asked him if he wanted to be an Avenger. You can kind of see that if you were a rookie, and in your first year at any sport, the Thor of that guy came in and said, ‘Hey, do you want to be on the World Series team?” — you might have a little bit of an attitude.”
Next question, from CBR: What can Loeb say about the preview pages, which seem to suggest a new Nova Corps? “It is in some ways not what you think it is,” Loeb says of the sequence. “But I can tell you that Ed is having a blast designing some of these new characters. Who survives and who doesn’t survive? That’s all goign to be a part of this first arc. By the time you get to the end of this first arc, you’ll find out who these guys are, what role they play, and why it’s important to how Sam ends up with the helmet.”
Next question, from IGN: Any plans for another Nova Infinite Comic? “The infinite opportunities, as we say, are certainly something we’d love to do,” Loeb answers. “Right now we want to get a book out on time. I think we’d like to get a little further out before we start doing that, but he’s certainly a character we’re looking forward to everyone at Marvel drawing.” Loeb says it’s important that a new character like this is “shared.” “That’s what’s so great about the Marvel Universe — it’s a shared universe, and when we start to introduce new characters, the best thing to do is seed them all around.”
Loeb says they “got lucky” with Red Hulk, in that it was introducing a new character who other writers — specifically Brian Michael Bendis on Avengers — became interesting in using. Whether or not Sam Alexander does join the Avengers, as hinted at the end of AvX, is up to Jonathan Hickman (that book’s writer) to decide, Loeb says.
Loeb stresses that Nova and the Guardians of the Galaxy aren’t in the “cosmic universe,” they’re in the “Marvel Universe,” as much as the X-Men or anyone else.
Next question, from iFanboy: Could this be the beginning of a Nova movie? “I can’t comment on what’s going on in the feature department,” Loeb replies. “It was part of our thinking when we started talking Ultimate Spider-Man that we did want to take this character, and for all intents and purposes, elevate him. It’s really interesting, when I go to conventions now, the amount of young kids who talk about how they love the show, and I ask them who their favorite characters are — Spider-Man, No. 1, Nova, No. 2.” If those fans can then read Sam Alexander in a comic, Loeb says, “That’s a very exciting thing, and that’s the kind of synergy that I think all departments at Marvel are reaching out and trying to do.”
Next question, from The Beat: Given that Gamora and Rocket Raccoon are on the cover of Nova #2, what’s the relationship between the two entities? “The relationship with the Guardians is something very important with where we’re going,” Loeb says. “Page 1, Nova #1, you’ll be right in it. And getting to see Ed draw the Guardians has been thrilling.”
Next question, from Marvel.com: Is the book set more on Earth, or space? “It’s a very careful balance,” Loeb answers. “Space is a very difficult medium to be relatable to, unless it’s done very carefully. We wanted to have a book that started very small, and let you understand what’s at stake, but that certainly doesn’t mean that we’re not going to be taking on the biggest and the baddest in the galaxy, and beyond. That is part of what it is to be Nova. He’s not an Earth-bound character, but it’s going to be a very delicate balance.”
Going back around, another question from us: What inspired the use of Carefree, Arizona (full disclosure, this writer is originally from the same county)? “It really came down to wanting to find a ‘big sky’ country,” Loeb says. “We started out talking about Montana, because I think that’s sort of the first place you think of with ‘big sky.’ But as I started looking at the towns, and the kinds of things Ed draws well, we had a lot of fun with the Hulk running around in New Mexico. It really sort of felt like those big, stone, monolithic worlds, and that big, open space of the desert, kind of reminded us of what planets look like in the galaxy. We wanted to take an atmosphere that would not be all that different from when he started traveling out there. Going from Arizona to a place like the moon, you still have that same kind of open space feeling — you’re just on the moon.”
Next question, from CBR: What kind of threats will the new Nova be facing? “It’s very much in the world of Nova, but it also goes to the next level,” Loeb answers, saying he doesn’t want to go too much into detail. “By the end of the second issue, you’ll know what’s at stake, who the villains are, and what’s coming, which will threaten all of Earth.”
“Here’s a guy that’s literally learning, on the job training,” Loeb says. “As opposed to Spider-Man, who went against the Chameleon, and some street crime, starting out — we already know that Sam played a role in stopping the Phoenix. His first adventure is on that level.”
Next question, from IGN, concerns what type of guidance Nova will receive with no Nova Corps or Rich Rider around: Loeb says that’ll be endemic to the theme of the series.
Next question, from iFanboy: Why the color change for the helmet? “It’s important to who he is, and where he comes from,” Loeb replies. “What we know about the Novas is not everything that we know about the Novas, and it is something that we spend a lot of time talking about, and going back through. It was not done from a design point-of-view. There was a story reason for it.”
Next question, from The Beat: Since the character of Nova now has an all-ages appeal, is Loeb approaching the writing differently? “I don’t know that it was as much in my mind as it was that we were telling a story about a 15 to 16 year-old kid,” Loeb says. “Part of the Nova story from the beginning, is that he was a very fun character. Rich Rider loved being Nova. I don’t think we’re necessarily writing for an all-ages audience, we’re writing for the Marvel audience.” Loeb says that you can tell a very adult story starring a young protagonist, but that’s not what they’re doing.
Last question, from Marvel.com: Will Nova be interacting with the Annihilators? Not at the beginning, Loeb says, “but anything’s possible,” and the Guardians of the Galaxy in particular be playing a role.
To wrap up: Nova #1, by Jeph Loeb and Ed McGuinness, is out in February. That’s it, thanks for reading!