Teenager Sam Alexander is the latest human to become Nova, a cosmic hero linked to the Nova Corps, an intergalactic peacekeeping force, through an inherited helmet from his father. Sam, with no knowledge of Nova’s past, learns to use his abilities and become a superhero.
Samuel “Sam” Alexander
Samuel “Sam” Alexander’s father, Jesse, served with the intergalactic peace-keeping Nova Corps elite unit, the Black Novas or Supernovas, but quit mid-battle 15 years ago after Sam was born, subsequently working as Carefree High School’s custodian and later fathering a daughter, Kaelynn; however, bouts of depression and alcoholism made him consider himself a poor husband and father.
Although struggling academically, Sam frequently stays after school performing Jesse’s custodial duties, keeping Jesse employed. School bully Karl Moffet regularly mocks Sam’s selflessness, which, coupled with Jesse’s alcoholism, increases Sam’s disrespectful attitude toward his father. He dismisses Jesse’s cosmic stories as drunken fantasies, unaware his mother, Eva, secretly knows their veracity.
When traitorous Black Nova Titus led a Chitauri invasion employing a planet-destroying, Chitauri-built Ultimate Nullifier, Jesse’s extraterrestrial allies Rocket Raccoon and Gamora enlisted Jesse’s aid, but Titus captures him. Under unrevealed circumstances, the enslaved Jesse transfers his helmet, containing an apologetic instruction recording for Sam, to Rocket, hoping Sam could replace him as Nova. Having suffered a skateboard-related head injury, Sam recovers in the hospital and is visited by Rocket Racoon and Gamora but he thinks their visit a dream. He curiously dons the helmet and discovers its flight abilities and his father’s message. He unintentionally flies to Earth’s moon, where he meets Uatu the Watcher who guides him.
While on the moon, Uatu shows him the Chitauri’s cloaked armada approaching Earth. After some swift training with Rocket and Gamora, he scouts the Chitauri’s coordinates, is captured, then escapes with the Nullifier. Titus pursues him back to Earth, their battle there alerting Sam that Eva now knows he has assumed Jesse’s role. After inadvertently destroying a local skate park, Sam returns Titus to space and instinctively activated the Nullifier, eliminating Titus and the armada; afterward Sam is determined to find the still-missing Jesse and surrenders the Nullifier to Uatu for safekeeping, initiating a growing friendship between them.
Black Nova Helmet
Sam Alexander’s Black Nova Helmet only works for someone with his father’s DNA signature and was created to access Nova Force energy without restriction, unlike other Nova Corps helmets that access Nova Force based on rank. The helmet can be reconfigured with Nova Corps equipment to work for another; however, if someone it is not configured for or tries to use it, the helmet electrically shocks them.
Channeling Nova Force through the helmet, Sam has superhuman strength (lifting 100 tons) and durability, can generate and manipulate various energies, and can fly, reaching warp speeds in space and performing space jumps. He emits concussive energy blasts often focused through his hands or fingers, using the Worldmind to aid targeting, form durable energy bubbles or near-indestructible energy shields, channel Nova Force similar to electric current through cables, and create energy duplicates of him.
Donning and removing the helmet materializes and dematerializes his Nova uniform, and the unworn helmet can move independently to avoid assaults on it.
The helmet can heal the wearer and others, protects Sam from space’s rigors and provides breathable air, can scan communication bands, see cloaked objects, and alert him of danger, although Sam cannot always interpret the specifics. Additionally, it translates human and alien languages, can provide information on alien technology, project visual event logs, transfer energy to empower deactivated helmets, and locate, track and activate other Nova helmet logs.
Outside of his helmet, Sam is an accomplished skateboarder, studied Morse code and is learning strategy in chess club.
Nova goes up against the Chitauri, Titus, Terrax, Diamondhead, Thanos’ Nova-slaying assassin Kaldera, slave trader Skaarn, Hulk as Kluh, Carnage and Warbringer and lives to tell the tale each time, sometimes with help from his allies but he often faces opposition alone. That is, until he teams up with the Avengers, the New Warriors or the Champions.
Family Ties and Allies
Sam’s family includes his father Jesse Alexander, the former owner of the Black Nova Helmet, as well as his mother Eva, sister Kaelynn, and “Grandma” Alexander on his father’s side. While Sam’s father is a drunken janitor that Sam often assists so that Jesse can keep his job, creating animosity between them. Though Jesse leaves Sam a legacy when he passes on his Black Nova Helmet.
Sam as Nova often fights alongside the Avengers, and while Thor offers him membership on the team, his mother Eva doesn’t allow it. Though she encourages him to join the New Warriors on reserve because it seems like he would encounter less trouble than with the Avengers. Though Nova later receives full membership to the Avengers team later and befriends Spider-Man and Ms. Marvel. When the Avengers no longer live up to their standards, the trio form their own team, The Champions.
When Sam is learning how to be Nova, Gamora and Rocket Raccoon of the Guardians of the Galaxy, help train him to go up against the Chitauri. Nova later works with Rocket on occasion. He even accompanies Beta Ray Bill on a mission to Knowhere to defeat the slave trader Skaarn, and ends up saving their psychic security chief Cosmo from poisoning.
Uatu the Watcher also assists Nova in guiding him towards being a hero in a silent manner by showing him truths and directing where he ought to be. Uatu informs, Nova before his untimely death, that his father Jesse is still alive. Nova is extremely distressed by the death of his friend and guide.
Uatu prompted Sam to confirm the destructive Phoenix Force that threatened Earth. Sam traveled across the galaxy, and witnessed the planet Birj’s annihilation after failing to persuade its ruler, tyrannical former Galactus herald Tyros, AKA Terrax, to evacuate his subjugated citizens out of the Force’s path. Racing home, Sam alerted the Avengers. After the crisis ended, Thor Odinson offered Sam Avengers membership; his mother Eva prohibited it, but let Sam continue as Nova, avoiding animosity between them. On his way home, the criminal Archibald Dyker, AKA Diamondhead, ambushed him. Diamondhead mistook Sam for his old foe, the supposedly deceased Nova Richard Rider, but Sam blinded him with a flash of light and stranded him on a desert mesa.
After Douglass Alligood’s school lecture claiming super heroes caused more destruction than good left Sam doubting that being Nova made a difference, he sought the Avengers’ advice; they convinced him if he inspired even one person to contribute something positive to the world, then the world was improved.
Recognizing his own inexperience after several botched crime-fighting attempts, Sam took Eva’s advice and, as Nova, assisted Carefree residents by rebuilding the skate park, but panicked when his longtime friend Carrie recognized his voice. Fleeing, he foolishly removed his helmet mid-flight to scold it for not disguising his voice and only narrowly replaced it before crash-landing in the skate park; Sam later confirmed to Carrie that he was Nova.
Inspired by the new Nova and wanting to redeem the New Warriors name, Rider’s former teammates Robbie Baldwin, AKA Speedball, and Vance Astrovik, AKA Justice, decided to reform the group; they offered Sam membership, but he impolitely declined, unwilling to join an unfamiliar team.
Returning to Sam’s home, the trio encountered Death-worshipping Thanos’ Nova-slaying assassin Kaldera, sent to kill Sam for Thanos’ continued grudge against his former enemy Rider. Holding Sam’s family hostage, Kaldera challenged him to Barak-Tar, an unarmed death-match, but was defeated when Sam cheated. Eva admired Robbie and Vance’s responsible attitudes and permitted Sam to become a Warriors reserve member, believing he’d find less trouble with a non-Avengers team, but Sam still objected until Uatu convinced him the Warriors needed Nova by displaying snippets of Rider’s exploits.
Carefree High School’s Principal Philbin visited Eva to discuss Sam’s truancy and informed her Jesse had been fired for not coming to work. Later suffering an optical migraine from stress and head trauma, Sam experienced temporary blindness; seeing seemingly random lights, he initially considered them a side effect of his malaise before realizing they were Nova Corps distress signals on a star map. Investigating, Sam found deceased Nova K’Thol on an unidentified moon, then located another helmet on bounty hunter Cadivan’s spacecraft; judging Sam neither desirable sport nor unclaimed bounty, Cadivan ejected the intruder from his ship.
Encountering a derelict Nova Corps vessel, Sam jumpstarted the dead Nova’s helmet that powered it to impress the attractive alien Jinin, unaware the ship’s Captain, Skaarn, was a slave trader who had pirated the vessel and was now fleeing pursuing Korbinites, and Jinin a slave Skaarn had used to manipulate Sam. Skaarn fled to intergalactic space station Knowhere to barter manpower for weapons while Sam returned to Earth.
Korbinite champion Beta Ray Bill located Sam and revealed Skaarn’s crimes, and the guilt-stricken Sam accompanied Bill on a hunt for Skaarn, confronting him on Knowhere and at the Keep weapons vault in deep space. Projecting resentful feelings for Moffet onto Skaarn, Sam single-handedly overpowered the heavily armed Skaarn, and saved Knowhere’s psychic security chief Cosmo from Skaarn’s poisoning. He traded Skaarn’s bounty for the Nova helmet in Cadivan’s possession, angering the impoverished Jinin by not taking cash, then returned for K’Thol’s helmet; gathering more helmets over time, he built a Nova helmet shrine in his garage, honoring the departed with his mother and sister.
Coveting the Worldmind in Nova’s helmet to assist his evolution machine in precisely targeting and eliminating non-humans, Herbert Wyndham, AKA High Evolutionary, kidnapped Sam. But the New Warriors saved him, and Sun Girl (Selah Burke) destroyed the Evolutionary’s machine; Sam would later fight alongside the Warriors against the Evolutionary and the Celestial-spawned Eternals.
Curious about Uatu’s purpose, Sam visited him, bringing a chunk of battlefield where the Avengers and X-Men stopped the Phoenix Force as a gift, and was permitted to observe the images displayed by Uatu’s Multiversal Friction Engine; Sam correctly surmised Uatu was searching for a universe where Uatu’s father Ikor’s dream of aiding lesser civilizations had been the wiser choice instead of merely watching without interference. At Sam’s inquiry, Uatu confirmed Jesse lived, though not his location.
Returning home, Sam learned his family was threatened with eviction and took on more responsibilities so Eva could work overtime to pay the mortgage. While his Nova activities brought UFO watchers to Carefree, making Eva fear for Sam’s secret identity, the exhausted Sam fell asleep babysitting Kaelynn; briefly donning the Nova helmet, Kaelynn partially wrecked the house. The Alexanders later moved into an affordable apartment.
After failing to procure a target for ailing intergalactic weapons dealer Atratus, destitute bounty hunter Monark Starstalker hoped his former ally Rider might be able to calm his unforgiving client. Finding Sam instead, Monark requested the youth’s help, but Atratus expired before Sam could talk to him. Later Sam discovered Uatu’s lifeless, eyeless body on the moon and panicked; seeking the Avengers, he found them already battling Uatu’s murder suspects Exterminatrix (Oubliette Midas) and the Dark Dimension’s Mindless Ones. Paralyzed with fear, Sam felt ashamed at his inability to avenge Uatu. When the mercenary Orb detonated Uatu’s stolen eye near them, Sam had a vision of Jesse seemingly executing a Nova Corpsman beside corrupt Black Nova Adomox.
Sam and Rocket visited the space station Oblitus, where Adomox owned a casino; Adomox claimed all the Black Novas were tainted, then poisoned the heroes, offering the antidote if they found a way to reconfigure Jesse’s helmet so Adomox could reclaim his former glory. Needing Nova Corps equipment to do this, Sam and Rocket split up; Sam soon located an abandoned Nova Corps bunker in the Desolate Quadrant, but its computer informed Sam that Jesse had faked the Corpsman’s death to get Adomox expelled. Realizing Adomox would never willingly surrender the antidote, he and Rocket had Cosmo telepathically extract the antidote’s location from Adomox’s brain. During the confrontation, Sam learned Jesse was imprisoned on the planet Chitauri Prime and forced to compete in gladiatorial games; however, before Sam reached Chitauri Prime, Jesse orchestrated a jailbreak and hijacked a Chitauri spacecraft to return the other gladiators to their respective homeworlds.
Unable to find his father, Sam returned home to tell Eva about Uatu’s demise and Jesse’s recent circumstances. Missing another school day searching for Jesse added to his overwhelming absentee record, and Sam was expelled; however, Sam told a sympathetic Principal Philbin an abbreviated version of the truth and was allowed to attend classes, including summer school, to make up lost time. Sam also erected a monument on the moon in Uatu’s memory.
Sam then teamed with the Avengers and X-Men on Genosha island to stop Red Onslaught, a resurrected Johann Shmidt, AKA Red Skull, wielding the X-Men’s Charles Xavier’s telepathic abilities. Sam was knocked off the island by an adamantium Sentinel under Red Onslaught’s control. Red Onslaught was defeated by Wanda Maximoff, AKA Scarlet Witch, and Victor von Doom, AKA Doctor Doom’s inversion spell, but the spell also inverted the basic alignment of many people's personalities.
Later, Sam was summoned to Avengers Mansion by former Captain America Steve Rogers, and Sam went with Eva’s permission. Sam spotted and accompanied Spider-Man, to Avengers Tower where every unaffected Avenger was assembled by new Captain America, Sam Wilson. At the meeting, the inverted Wilson shrank and imprisoned those outside his inverted inner circle within Hank Pym’s subatomic ant farm, but Sam escaped with Spider-Man. Finally gathering at Avengers Mansion with Rogers, Sam learned the inverted Bruce Banner, AKA Hulk, called Kluh, was nearing Carefree and rocketed home, taking his family to Alaska to escape Kluh’s destructive path. Facing Kluh alone, Sam suffered a broken arm and a serious head injury, and his helmet was badly damaged when Kluh punched him to Paris, France.
When Cletus Kasady, AKA Carnage, found Sam’s mother, Eva, he attempted to kill her but was stopped by Nova. Nova and Carnage argued about Nova’s secret identity and while Nova denied that he’s not Sam Alexander (even though he is), Carnage later revealed this fact to Sam’s whole school. Even though Nova’s helmet went on the fritz during their ensuing battle, he caught some good luck when a truck slammed into Carnage. Sam tied him up and before leaving him in Ryker’s Island, Carnage said that he desired to kill Nova to erase the memory of his good deeds, from the time his moral axis was inverted.
Nova became a full-fledged member of the Avengers alongside Spider-Man and Ms. Marvel but they quit after the second superhuman civil war—since the Avengers team no longer lived up to their standards. They founded a group of teenage heroes, the Champions. The Champions came to Nova’s aide when Sam received a distress signal from the newly reformed Nova Corps who were protecting the Power Stone and facing off with the Chitauri warlord Warbringer. The Champions intercepted Warbringer nearly committing genocide against his own Chitauri and defeated Warbringer. When the Champions delivered Warbringer to the Nova Corps, they confiscated his helmet.