Since his introduction 22 months ago in Marvel Point One, the new Nova, Sam Alexander, has traveled to far off worlds and faced off some of the top heroes in the world. And this November, he’s meeting someone new – writer Gerry Duggan and artist Paco Medina.
The Deadpoolco-writer will be joining the Nova series with November’s tenth issue to kick off a new arc that sees the Arizona teenager begin to learn about the deeper legacy of the mantle he carries in a quest to recover the helmets of his fallen Nova colleagues across light years in space. Alexander came to own his Nova helmet after being passed down from his father, but Duggan – a father himself – plans to take this rookie hero to places he’s never been before.
November’s Nova #10 will be a big occasion, marking the 100th issue of a Nova title and both the conclusion of Zeb Well’s arc and the beginning of Duggan’s. For more we talked to the Deadpool writer and learned his inspirations for this impending run range from Indiana Jones to the NASA’s Apollo space missions. He also brought some new art from Paco Medina to show off.
Newsarama: From the wise-acre adventures of Deadpool over to the coming-of-age hero story in Nova – quite a jump, Gerry. How’d it all come together?
Gerry Duggan: Thank/blame Steve Wacker. He wrote me an email to gauge my interest, and I wrote back “YES!” and then about 24 hours later I emailed him a loose outline that had some ideas he didn’t hate. The rest is soon to be publishing history.
Nrama: You’re picking up in November’s Nova #10 after Zeb Wells and Jeph Loeb each did five issues. I know we’re still a couple issues away from your start, but can you give us your review of the series so far and what you’re joining?
Duggan: I love what Jeph and Zeb have begun. In a short amount of time they’ve created and built up a fun new character that’s been thrust into a role that he might have been for, but is not prepared for right now. He’ll get that seasoning over time through triumph and tragedy...if he survives.
Nrama: In a solicitation Marvel once called Nova “Marvel’s newest, least experienced hero;” Do you take that fact as a positive or a negative?
Duggan: As a writer hoping to entertain people this is a positive. I’m one of the folks that holds Batman: Year One above The Dark Knight Returns. Watching a character stumble in the early years can be thrilling. In my first few issues of Nova Sam resolves a relatively small problem, but unwittingly creates a much larger one that escalates into a full blown Marvel Team-Up situation. The best education is failure. As an aside, our “Epic Fail” obsessed culture makes it very hard for a person make mistakes, learn from them and then improve. On a personal note, my early scripts for film, TV and comics are without hyperbole -- unreadable. Fail a little less every time out, and you’ll do alright.
Nrama: You’re joining this book just as Nova celebrates its 100th issue, tallying in all of Nova’s previous series. Any pressure?
Duggan: I do feel the pressure yes, but in a more personal way. I feel the same burden with Nova that I felt with Deadpool. Editors I admire either recommended me, vouched for me, or gave me a job that anyone would kill for. I feel that pressure to not let them down, I don’t really feel pressure from fans. Personally, I want every book that rolls off the printer with my name on it to be one that I would throw down my hard-earned cash to buy. Thanks to a lot of help from some wonderful editors, artists and other collaborators that’s been the case so far every time out...
Nrama: In Nova #10 you’re not co-writing, instead Zeb is doing his finale and then you have your own story with Paco Medina. What can you tell us about that story?
Duggan: It’s a little bit of a tasting menu for the stories we’ll be exploring with Sam. He’s got a couple of situations brewing on Earth at home and school, and my story ends after a successful rescue mission in deep space with Sam in need of a little rescue himself.
Nrama: The cover to Nova #10 we’ve seen doesn’t pull any punches – it shows Sam standing on top of a mountain of Nova helmets. That’s cementing the long history and tradition of the Nova Corps, so how will that play into your story?
Duggan: Sam will discover a way to locate old Nova Corps helmets. That will be fun, exhilarating, and a little scary and intimidating. That’s a lot of Nova Corps(es). No bueno!
Nrama: Why is he looking for old Nova helmets?
Duggan: The answer to that question is revealed in my first couple of issues...
Nrama: In an interview on Marvel.com, you described your first arc as a “fun little Indiana Jones type adventure.” Can you elaborate on that?
Duggan: Not all the helmets will be easily obtained. Some are in difficult and dangerous places to access. Others are hanging in places of honor on walls...
Nrama: For the past decade or so, Nova seems squarely set in the outer space, cosmic side of the Marvel U. Will that be the case with your story?
Duggan: No, not exclusively. If you have me a Nova helmet as a 15 year old I would be exploring some exotic places on this planet too. We already have a list of fun places and adventures. Look for Sam to familiarize himself with the planet that he’s risking his neck to protect.
Nrama: With Nova’s abilities to pretty much go anywhere and meet anyone, do you have a wishlist of characters or places you’d like to eventually tackle with Sam Alexander?
Duggan: Yes, but I’m afraid I must insist that the guest list for the Nova party remain private for the time being...
Nrama: Secret fact here, but you yourself were once a boy Sam Alexander’s age – and you have a son that’s not too much younger than Sam. How has that impacted you writing Nova?
Duggan: My son’s a good deal bit younger than Sam, but he’s already interested in space exploration, and superheroes. We spend our weekends at museums in Los Angeles and one of his favorite things to do is visit the Shuttle Endeavor at the California Science Center. In the months before the Nova opportunity presented itself we were re-watching the Criterion Blu-Ray of For All Mankind. (Check it out if you’ve not seen it - it was shot by our Astronauts during the Apollo missions. I’m a lucky guy that I get to spend time exploring the universe with my wife and family while my unconscious mind wanders my imagination in a Nova helmet. That’s why you never leave home without a moleskin notebook. You never know where you’ll be when inspiration will strike.