Jeph Loeb's New NOVA Takes Flight in MARVEL NOW!

Readers have caught glimpses of the new Nova, Sam Alexander, in comics including Avengers vs. X-Men and the Ultimate Spider-Man cartoon, but are about to learn a lot more about the budding hero — he's set to star in his own ongoing series starting in February 2013, from the creative team of frequent collaborators Jeph Loeb and Ed McGuinness. Newsarama talked with Loeb to learn more about his plans for the Nova series and the new character under the helmet.

 

Newsarama: Jeph, Sam Alexander debuted last year in Marvel Point One, but why is it the right time for a new Nova? Sure, Richard Rider was presumed dead at the end of The Thanos Imperative, but that doesn't stop most Marvel characters, including other ones that appeared to have died in that same story.

Jeph Loeb: Sam Alexander and his story has been in the works for some time now. We knew what Abnett and Lanning's plans were to wrap up a massively wonderful storyline and that gave us a number of new opportunities. We wanted to respect Richard Rider's passing (huge fans) and still move forward with Nova. This is Sam's story. It's different from what we've seen before but hopefully fans and new readers will respond to him.

Nrama: And, though I'm sure there's not necessarily much you can say before the series starts, but what can you tell us about Sam Alexander that might not be obvious from his first few brief appearances? Of course, fans already know him from the Ultimate Spider-Man cartoon — how similar do you see the two versions of the character?

Loeb: In USM, Sam has been Nova for a while. He's confident about his powers — even a little cocky. His appearances in Point One, Point One NOW! and Avengers vs. X-Men were all small doses of who he will become.

 

Where the series begins, it goes back to the beginning. How a kid — a teenager — from a very small town in Arizona goes from being someone who thought he'd never get any further than his own backyard to being a part of the greatest adventure he could ever imagine. It's a very Marvel story about an ordinary person who has something extraordinary happen to him.

Nrama: Before we get ahead of ourselves, let's talk about Ed McGuinness, who you're teaming with once again for this series. In what ways does Nova represent a new challenge compared to the books you've worked together on in the past?

Loeb: I obviously love working with Ed — we've been together since (eep!) Wolverine Annual '96. His ability to adapt to different stories — whether it's Superman/Batman or Hulk or Avengers: X-Sanction is nothing short of remarkable. And I've often depended on Ed to bring that Kirbyeseque power to the page. Big, bombastic storytelling.

Nova is different — it's more akin to the work I've done with Tim Sale on Daredevil: Yellow and Spider-Man: Blue or what Arthur Adams and I did on Ultimate X. It's smaller story with remarkable moments of quiet that Ed has delivered on. [Series editor] Steve Wacker and I are giddy with excitement when we see his pages.

Nrama: And speaking of the creative team: You've mentioned in the past that your day job as head of Marvel TV has kept you too busy to take on a new ongoing series. Are you on this book for the long haul (possibly as a result of working far in advance?)

 

Loeb: Ed and I are huge Nova fans. Who else would possibly bring back Diamondhead? We'll be staying on the book as long as we can. What's important is that the "relaunch" of Nova and Guardians of the Galaxy are just part of a very large initiative to bring these characters into the Marvel Universe in a critical important way — so that the "cosmic" titles don't feel like their own special place — they are special! And like the X-Men, the Avengers and Spider-Man, these books matter!

Nrama: To that end, Nova is a bit of a different case than Guardians of the Galaxy, since even though he's considered part of cosmic Marvel, he has historically had some very clear ties to the rest of the MU. How are you approaching that balance with the new series?

Loeb: We start by getting to know Sam, his family, the town, and his school. How he gets the helmet and the journey to becoming a hero is the path we're on. We want to balance that world with both the intimate feel of being on Earth, which is hopefully relatable to the reader and the awesomeness of exploring the Marvel Universe in a bold new way. It's a challenge and we hope that the readers will come and check it out.

Nrama: To that end, Avengers vs. X-Men #12 saw Thor inviting Nova to join the Avengers. Will Earth's Mightiest Heroes play a role in the series?

Loeb: Wait and see. Everything that came before this comes into play.

Nrama: One interesting component on Marvel NOW! is that in several titles, especially Mark Waid and Leinil Francis Yu's Indestructible Hulk, there seems to be a movement towards putting heroes in slightly unfamiliar positions and matching them against different types of villains. What kind of threats will Nova encounter in the series?

 

Loeb
: Nova has to first learn what is to be a hero. He doesn’t have the Worldmind. He doesn't even have any other members of the Nova Corp. It's like trying to learn how to operate heavy machinery without an instruction manual. But he has a very clear tie to the past history of the Corp and that will be a driving force for the series.

Nrama: Oh, and speaking of Guardians of the Galaxy (as we were a couple of questions ago), are there any plans down the line, preliminary as they may be, to have a degree of seemingly natural coordination between the two titles?

Loeb: Brian and I have been working very closely coordinating these stories (which you will see in the very first issue) because Sam's story is tied into… well, that would be telling. See you in the first issue!

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