Randomly chosen to become a member of the Nova Corps until the Annihilation Wave destroyed them all, leaving him imbued with their combined power and guided by the super-intelligent Worldmind computer, Richard Rider wages a one-man battle for justice as Nova.
Enlisted Into the Corps
Chosen at random by the dying Xandarian Rhomann Dey to receive his Nova Corps powers, teenager Richard Rider found himself thrust into the role of superhero, a role he grasped with relish. He battled foes such as Dey's nemesis Zorr, the avian criminal Condor, the amnesiac Powerhouse (actually a Xandarian sent to locate the missing Dey), his uncle's murderer and member of the Maggia, Photon, and the mysterious Sphinx. The latter eventually kidnapped Nova and several others, using Dey's spaceship to transport them all to Xandar.
Learning that Xandar was threatened by the Skrull Empire, Nova and his fellows (bar the Sphinx, who had returned to Earth, and Doctor Sun, who teleported to an unknown location) pledged their aid; the Skrulls were eventually driven off with the help of the Galadorian Spaceknight, Rom. Homesick for Earth, Richard agreed to give up his powers, which were needed to help rebuild war-ravaged Xandar's defenses, and returned home a normal human once more, or so it seemed.
New Warrior to Reality Star
Months later Richard was tracked down by Night Thrasher, who believed Richard's powers were merely dormant and wished to recruit Nova for his prospective hero team. To test the theory, Night Thrasher dropped Richard off a roof; luckily for both of them, Night Thrasher was correct, and the adrenaline rush reawoke Richard's abilities. Alongside several other teenage heroes he founded the New Warriors, and also resumed his solo career. He fought alongside the New Warriors for years, including encounters with Nova's old foe the Sphinx and a brief stint during which the Warriors worked with Cable and X-Force. He was eventually hunted down by Super-Nova, the Xandarian who held the rest of the Nova-Force inside his body and had been driven mad by it. The two of them, aided by the New Warriors and Galactus' Xandarian heralds Firelord and Air-Walker, ended up setting off protocols that led to Xandar's resurrection. The StarCorps was reinstated, and Rider was appointed Centurion Prime and assigned to guard earth's sector of space.
Returning to Earth, Rider was confronted with dual lives as Centurion Prime and a member of the New Warriors. He also encountered another Nova from an alternate timeline named Nova 0:0. Nova 0:0 attacked Rider to prepare him for defending his Earth from the force that had destroyed Nova 0:0's Earth, the Deathstorm. After stopping the Deathstorm and saving Earth, Rider was replaced as Centurion Prime for Earth's sector of space by Garthan Saal, the former Super-Nova, after failing to follow orders at a crucial time. When Saal sacrificed himself to save earth from the Dire Wraith queen Volx, he passed his powers back to Rider. He continued to fight alongside the New Warriors until the team broke up, reformed, and broke up again. He agreed to come back as part of the New Warriors reality TV show, and travelled the U.S. with the team, fighting menaces that'd taken up residence in communities that didn't have resident heroes.
The team fought several criminals who'd escaped the Raft during the massive prison break that led to the reestablishing of the Avengers, before being recalled to Xandar alongside the rest of the Nova Corps to deal with the threat of the Annihilation Wave. Rider was the only StarCorps member to survive the Wave's surprise attack, and has become the bearer of the entire Nova-Force, as well as the Xandarian Worldmind, the living computers that contain the entire record of Xandarian civilization as well as the minds of all its deceased members.
Nova then came into contact with Drax who taught him how to better control the Nova Force and how to kill. Realizing his new leadership abilities, Nova created the United Front, an army opposed to Annihilus. Several beings joined the United Front alongside Nova including Silver Surfer, Ronan, Gamora, Phyla-Vell, Moondragon, the Spaceknights, Blastaar, Stardust, Firelord, Red Shift, Super-Skrull, Star-Lord, and others. Alongside these beings Nova was able to squash Annihilus's forces and kill Annihilus.
Force of One
After the war, Richard started to scan the galaxy, searching for beings who needed help. Continuing this for an undetermined amount of time he became fatigued and homesick. The Worldmind advised Richard to return to Earth to rest. Taking Worldmind's advice Richard returned to Earth to find the state of the world after the Civil War. While back home Richard was approached by Iron Man, who strongly urged Richard to register. Stark then sent Justice to try and convince him to register. Failing to see the point to any of the madness Richard left Earth and returned to his Nova duties.
Infected by the Phalanx
When the Phalanx took control of Kree Space and infected many worlds, Nova found himself trapped inside Kree Space and crashed into an energy barrier, landing on a Kree outpost severely damaged. There Commander Ko-Rel opposed a horde of Phalanx while protecting Nova from an infected Gamora. Nova was too weak to fight back, so the Worldmind uploaded some of the Nova Force into Ko-Rel turning her into a Nova Corps member. Gamora then slipped past the Kree defenses and infected Richard with the techno-organic virus, turning him into a Phalanx Select. Gamora and Nova left the outpost and returned to Hala.
Ko-Rel pursued Nova but was unable to defeat him and was killed. After her death the power she possessed returned to Nova, enabling him to resist the transmode virus. Now on the run from other Phalanx Select, he soon found himself at the edge of the universe in a place called Knowhere where he was attacked by zombies under the control of an unknown evil called Abyss. However, after making an ally in a talking dog named Cosmo, Nova defeated the villain and restored peace to Knowhere. Cosmo then used the resources at his disposal to chart Nova a course for the birthplace of the Phalanx, Kvch, in hopes that Nova could find a way to cure himself of the virus that was slowly killing him. Nova's journey was temporarily interrupted when a creature called a Vore tried to feed him to its unborn young.
Nova made it to Kvch, as did Gamora and Drax, where he met Warlock, of the New Mutants. Warlock was trying to put an end to his race's murderous ways, starting with his new charge, Tyro. While on Kvch, a technarchy monster was coming to challenge Tyro for his right to live, and Warlock knew that even the combined powers of the three individuals would not be able to stop it. The only solution was for Tyro to flee, and in order to give Tyro the necessary time to escape, Warlock sacrificed himself and used his life energies to cure Nova, who in turn fought the monster despite the fact he would probably not survive. Tyro returned and defeated his would-be killer by taking over his body and asserting his consciousness over the creature. With the danger passed, Tyro gave some of the enormous life energies he now possessed to revive his adoptive parent, Warlock, as well as Gamora and Drax. Now free of the transmode virus, the group returned to Hala and helped put an end to the Phalanx invasion.
Encounter with Galactus
Nova assisted the citizens of the world Orbucen in a planet-wide evacuation when Galactus decided Orbucen would be his next meal. Nova ran into two problems during the mass departure: the first was the herald of Galactus, the Silver Surfer, and the other was a homicidal entity called Harrow. Harrow proved to be the bigger menace because he preyed on the inhabitants of Orbucen as they struggled to survive the threat of the world devourer. Nova was almost killed trying to apprehend the telepathic intruder, but he escaped onto Galactus' ship. There, Nova found Harrow's primary body, hiding from Galactus' attention, and engaged the parasite in battle. Eventually, the Silver Surfer intervened, determined Harrow was nothing but vermin, and alerted his master to the alien being's presence. Harrow attempted to escape, but Galactus incinerated him on sight. Nova thought he would share Harrow's fate, but Galactus teleported him to safety. The Silver Surfer warned Nova to stay away from his master because Galactus never spares anything twice.
Reestablish the Nova Corps
Nova learned of the Skrull Invasion on Earth and traveled there along with the Super-Skrull who pretended to betray Nova in order to keep him alive. Nova responded to a distress call from the scientists in Project PEGASUS, and helped Darkhawk and a newly revived Quasar fight off a squad of super Skrulls. The Worldmind, thought to be lost after Nova's run-in with Harrow, was reactivated and tapped into the Project's mainframe to activate the Death's Head Guards as back-up troops. However, all seemed lost when a Skrull battle cruiser was about to fire on the installation, but an unexpected emergence of a new Nova Corps destroyed the battleship and saved the day. Worldmind went behind Nova's back to form a new Corps and continued to endow individuals with power, including his brother Robbie, against Nova's wishes. Nova was almost ready to submit to Worldmind's plans, but once he was informed Ego, the Living Planet was chosen to be Nu-Xandar, Nova would not voluntarily download the majority of the Nova Force into Ego. The Worldmind concluded Nova had become mentally unstable from holding that much power for such a long period of time, so it forcibly took Nova's powers from him. Nova was then transported back to Earth.
Protector of the Universe
Once a normal human again, Nova discovered he was dying because of the absence of the Nova Force. In addition, he discovered Worldmind was using subliminal control over those he was recruiting into the Corps. Nova couldn't even turn to those at Project PEGASUS for help since Norman Osborn's H.A.M.M.E.R. took over. However, there was a scientist on the inside, secretly working for A.I.M., that wanted to help him. She took Nova to a hidden lab, and using a stolen canister filled with Quantum energy, attempted to cure him. He appreciated the gesture, but he destroyed the canister, allowing the energy to be free. Quasar appeared with the Quantum Bands and offered them to Nova to save his life. Nova accepted, and for a brief time, became the new Protector of the Universe. Nova and Quasar journeyed to Nu-Xandar where they confronted Worldmind and Ego even as the Nova Corps were locked in battle against Shi'ar forces. Ego was gaining control over Worldmind and manipulated many of the individuals in the Corps to attack Nova, but Nova channeled a huge blast of energy to lobotomize Ego. With Ego unable to access his higher brain functions, Worldmind came back online, but switched to a new persona to interact with Nova, knowing its programming was corrupted. Nova regained his powers and returned the Quantum Bands back to their rightful owner.
Back With A Vengeance
Inexperienced Nova Corps dealing with hardened Shi'ar soldiers posed a serious problem but a newly restored Nova immediately flew into battle to rescue as many recruits as he could. Upon finding out his brother, Robbie, was missing, he took a small force to Robbie’s last known coordinates only to be attacked by Triton of the Inhumans and his forces. Trying to avoid a fight at all costs, Nova was spared from retaliating when a former comrade, Ra-Venn, recognized him. Nova was then taken to the site where the soldiers of the cruel emperor Vulcan exterminated a countless amount of Nova Corps recruits - execution style. All that remained were their helmets. A disheartened Nova did not falter from his mission to save his brother even after seeing what was left of the fallen Centurions. Battling his way through the forces of Ravenous, Nova heard his brother's agonizing scream and feared the worst. Charging headfirst into what could have been his last battle, Nova confronted the immensely powerful Xenith and decisively defeated her, saving both the lives of Ravenous and his brother.
What Lurks Inside the Fault?
After the war ended, it left the universe in more danger than ever with the creation of The Fault – a tear in space caused by a devastating weapon made by the Inhumans with the intention of obliterating the Shi'ar race. A Nova Corps starship, the Resolute Duty, which had been missing for thirty-five years, had suddenly resurfaced bringing with it a slew of new problems for the Corps. Nova Centurian, Zan Philo, still captained the ship and had a dangerous prisoner on board. A deadly bounty hunter known as Monark Starstalker stowed away only to attempt to wrestle the prisoner away from Centurion Philo, so he could collect the price on his head. A catastrophic attack to Worldmind by Starstalker gave Ego the opening it needed to assert itself over the Xandarian supercomputer, and the criminal held in captivity was about to be liberated by beings who followed him, the merciless Mindless Ones. The Mindless Ones cut the main power to Philo's ship and freed their master, but Philo worked to get power restored as Worldmind downloaded itself into the Resolute Duty. With Worldmind and Starstalker's help, Nova transported the Mindless Ones along with their leader into Ego's brain, giving the Living Planet a more immediate threat to contend with than the Nova Corps. The danger having passed, Starstalker left to roam the universe, and Philo agreed to become a Drill Sergeant to train the rookies.
A Tale of Two Sphinxes
Escaping the perils of the Fault once did not mean Nova was free from its evil influence. While on a mission to find Darkhawk for allegedly killing Lilandra Neramani, Nova found him on a dying planet. Darkhawk refused to be imprisoned for a crime he did not commit and fled, but Nova gave chase. In the midst of his pursuit, the planet exploded and both heroes were believed dead. In actuality, Nova and Darkhawk were ripped from their world and brought to a magically constructed creation of one of Nova's deadliest foes - the Sphinx. Other familiar faces such as Reed Richards and Namorita were also brought to this makeshift world for the purpose of helping the Sphinx defeat his younger self. The Sphinx of the past wanted to possess two Ka Stones, which was previously thought impossible to do, but within the Fault anything was possible. Both brought his own avatars achieve his goal, pitting them against each other, during which it was discovered the older version was dying. Darkhawk was the deciding factor for the older Sphinx's victory, but he was also the one hero that could be manipulated into giving the Sphinx what he wanted too. Either getting the idea from his younger self, or intending on the same thing all along, Sphinx forced Darkhawk to procure the second Ka Stone and surrender it to him. Now with the immense power of both stones, the Sphinx was restored and became a god. He literally devoured his younger self and cast the heroes aside as they were no more to him than dust motes. While learning to deal with the power of both Ka Stones, the Sphinx was finding a way to have the real world accept the impossibility of two stones existing at the same time. He would have succeeded if not for the power of Nova coupled with the calculating mind of Richards. Together, they figured out a way to expel the Sphinx from his imaginary world into actual reality before he adapted, and in doing so, the Sphinx ceased to exist. With the Sphinx gone, his creation fell apart, and all who were brought there would be returned to the past. Nova couldn't bear the thought of losing Namorita again, so he embraced her one last time, not realizing he would pull her from the Fault into her future. Darkhawk told Nova this decision would end badly but Nova didn't care just then.
Nova temporarily returned to Earth when Steve Rogers asked him to become a part of his Secret Avengers. Nova accepted and was dispatched to Mars to after a second Serpent Crown was discovered on Earth, but he went missing soon after arriving. Nova found the actual Serpent Crown and became entranced after swapping it for his Nova helmet. The Secret Avengers pursued Nova but were not able to subdue him until Rogers put on the Nova helmet, receiving Nova's abilities. Once the Serpent Crown was removed from his head, Nova returned to normal. After heading home, Nova responded to a bank robbery and stopped a gang of intergalactic thieves along with Spider-Man.