Comics

Nova Vs. Nova

Jeff Loveness and Ramon Perez size up Sam Alexander against Rich Rider in several key categories!

Image for Nova Vs. Nova

From losing his dad—again—to joining the Champions, Sam Alexander has been experiencing plenty of ups and downs lately, but nothing can prepare him for the return of his predecessor Richard Rider, a comeback that continues in NOVA #2 by Jeff Loveness and Ramón Pérez on January 4. So which Human Rocket really has the chops? We asked the creators to rank the two Novas in a few key categories…

Strength
Pretty simple, who would you consider a stronger fighter?

Jeff Loveness: Surprisingly, I think Sam has the advantage here. He wears a Black Nova helmet, one of the most powerful weapons in the universe. He may not have full control or years of experience with it, but he packs quite a punch.

Ramón Pérez: I would break this category down into power and skill set. Theoretically, Sam has the more powerful Nova helmet according to mythology. But Rich knows how to use his powers far better than Sam because he has done it for a lot longer—despite being dead for a few years. So ultimately, I think Rich would win out in this category.

Strategic thinking
Who thinks faster in a crisis?

Jeff Loveness: Rich. Hands down. 15-year-old boys get too distracted by uncomfortable hair growth and bodily changes to focus on strategy.

Ramón Pérez: As the younger of the two, Sam might have a more creative way of thinking. He can think outside the box. My dad worked as a mechanic and had years of experience, but I remember oftentimes I’d come in and solve a problem for him because I didn’t know the “proper” technique for solving it. I’d just say what I thought, and he’d be like, “Hold on a second, I think you’re right!” So I’d consider this one a draw. Rich thinks very strategically and really knows how to do things, but Sam could throw a curveball into a situation and come out on top.

Teamwork
Now that Sam has joined the Champions, does this give him an advantage?

Jeff Loveness: Gonna call this close, but give it to Rich. Sam has worked with the Avengers and Champions, and now makes up one-third of the new “Marvel Trinity” [with] Kamala Khan/Ms. Marvel and Miles Morales/Spider-Man. I see him as a great team player. But Rich Rider led the Nova Corps and held his own with the Annihilators. I think I’m gonna go with the team that has Beta Ray Bill and the Silver Surfer on it.

Ramón Pérez: I worked as a solo artist for almost a decade before I joined a studio. And at that point, my skill set excelled because I had other talented people around me to learn from. So I assume that would happen in a super hero team like the Champions, as well. Everyone has unique approaches to tackling problems. So Sam now gets to see how Kamala or Miles might address a situation or fight a villain, and he can learn from that. On the other end of the spectrum, Rich could learn from one of the old guard. But I think the advantage goes to Sam here.

Outlook
Sam has youthful optimism, but Rich has the perspective of history. Which wins out?

Jeff Loveness: In this book, we find Rich in a very confused, disillusioned place. He has seen the Cancerverse and has come back—and the galaxy has moved on without him. He struggles to find himself again; and he doesn’t know if he even wants to continue as a hero. That path didn’t lead to a good place.

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Nova #2 cover by Ramon Perez

On the other hand, we see Sam still in the early stages of super hero-dom, still basking in the fun and wonder of it all. He may not have the experience, but he has his heart in the right place and he dives in head-first. He has just the optimism and enthusiasm that Rich needs. I might give it to him here.

Ramón Pérez: We actually explore this a little bit in the series. Sam has that youthful idealism for the most part, even though negative circumstances surrounded his assumption of the mantle, with the disappearance of his dad. But Sam always tries to do his best. And Rich finds himself at the point where it has become a responsibility. His enthusiasm and idealism may be sort of gone because he has gone to war and died. But he wants to recalibrate himself. We’ll play Sam and Rich off of one another quite a bit in this regard. So I’d call this one a tie.

Endurance
Who could last longer in a fight?

Jeff Loveness: You’d have a tough time finding a guy who has gone through more than Rich Rider. Annihilation Wave. Thanos Imperative. The destruction of the Nova Corps. Merging with the World Mind.

Sam has had some awkward high school times—but Thanos might beat that.

Ramón Pérez: If we go by age, Sam wins. But you can do amazing things under duress. So even though Sam’s youth probably gives him more stamina, a young kid getting pummeled may not last as long as an old guy who has gotten pummeled many times before. I think this one would vary between situations. Sam has the upper hand in terms of youthful energy, but I’d consider it a situation-by-situation factor.

Experience
Of course, Rich has more experience. But would anything about the experiences Sam has had level the playing field?

Jeff Loveness: Rich ripped out Annihilus’ intestines. Gonna give it to Rich.

Ramón Pérez: Definitely Rich has more experience. In life, you learn as you go and as the decades roll on, you gain insight into yourself. And as a hero, you need that. At Sam’s age, he still has to figure that out, and as his experiences grow, he’ll get a better handle on the kind of hero he is. Currently, we see him still in his formative years. Give him another decade and he’ll become a smarter hero. So Rich wins this one.

Pop Culture references
Who would you consider best at wielding the power of a well-timed movie quote?

Jeff Loveness: Rich died in 2010. He missed out on so many hot memes and Netflix shows. Gonna give this to Sam.

Ramón Pérez: Sam wins in this one, but as everything comes around pop-culturally, Rich may find himself surprised with what becomes popular again!

Ability to talk to human girls
Forging alliances with women can go a long way toward combatting a villain.

Jeff Loveness: Rich can at least form sentences around them.

Ramón Pérez: Rich has confidence, as well as that cosmic bad boy element going for him, and he has that mischievous grin. A hands-down win for him.

High School Angst
On one hand, having become accustomed to high school drama could help Sam deal with the Nova craziness. On the other, it could be a distraction, giving Rich the upper hand.

Jeff Loveness: Sam obliterates everyone in his wake. He massacres them.

Ramón Pérez: Rich left this one behind a long time ago—and happily tosses the trophy over to Sam.

Final Thoughts
Ramón Pérez
: I think Jeff and I have a really fun book slated out. We try to hit all cylinders with the heroics, but also with a story about the life of a teenager. Some issues might lean more heavily toward Sam, some toward Rich, but at the end of the day, they share the book and we hope to give them both a proper spotlight and get them onto their heroic career paths moving into the next decade of the Marvel Universe.

You can begin the journey with Sam and Rich in NOVA #1, available now, and look out for issue #2 from Jeff Loveness and Ramón Pérez on January 4!