Frankie Raye was the stepdaughter of Phineas T. Horton, inventor of the android Human Torch. He became bitter at the announcement of a new Human Torch, Johnny Storm of the Fantastic Four. Horton brought Frankie with him as he dug into the spare parts and chemicals he had used to build the Human Torch decades earlier. Frankie was exposed to a canister of chemicals which set her on fire, but instead of being harmed she gained powers similar to the Human Torch's. Horton later placed a post-hypnotic suggestion in her mind to keep her afraid of fire, so she wouldn't use her powers.
By chance, Frankie met Johnny Storm and they began a romantic relationship. She finally discovered what her father had done to her and regained her memories. Under Johnny's guidance, she learned how to control her powers and became an unofficial member of the Fantastic Four. Although Frankie wanted to join the team on their adventures, Mister Fantastic often left her behind due to her lack of experience.
When Galactus returned to Earth, desperate for sustenance, Frankie offered herself to him as a herald in order to save Earth, and for the chance to explore space. Galactus granted her a portion of the Power Cosmic and she departed Earth, without a backwards glance.
Now called Nova, Frankie took delight in finding new worlds for Galactus to feed on, caring little for the lives of aliens. That was, until she met the Silver Surfer. The Surfer did his best to teach her to value all life, finally bringing Frankie to a primitive world and asking her if she would feed it to Galactus. She said she would, only to learn that the Surfer had brought her back in time to a young Earth.
Nova grew reluctant to serve Galactus after this, and he grew tired of her. Galactus finally cast her out, taking the vicious executioner Morg as his new herald. Nova then joined with her fellow heralds – the Silver Surfer, Terrax, Firelord and Air-Walker – in opposing Morg. During the battle, Morg slew Nova with a blast of energy through her chest. Later, the Silver Surfer laid her body to its final rest within a sun.