Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Beginnings and Ends: Nova & The Guardians of the Galaxy


It seems that lately I find myself writing nothing but cancelation notices, farewell letters, and helping with petitions to save series. We may be at the moment of two spectacular series coming to an finish: both Nova and Guardians of the Galaxy are going on hiatus while the cosmic event of Thanos Imperative rages on. While logic would dictate that these series are bound to make a comeback once that event is over, they would not the first series to not come back from a hiatus: Ghost Rider and Immortal Iron Fist never came back from their respective breaks. And yet, if these series are indeed coming to an end, and after reading the "final" issues, I find myself not terribly upset. Hit the jump to see more.
There hasn't been any official confirmation that the titles are cancelled, though both of the latest issues sure felt like a send off for both the characters and the titles, in different ways. It makes sense for these two titles to end differently, as they were both separate beasts that while they intertwined often, they could easily be tackled by themselves. Both series were written in their entirety by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning, along with a stable of talented artists.

The Human Rocket


Let's start with Nova. From the very beginning, the series was about the struggle of one man to accept and learn the limits of these new found powers and responsibilities. Nova must not only deal with the burden of carrying the entirety of the Nova force, but also with the task of helping a universe that is in ruins from the wide chaos and destruction that a series of galactic conflicts left it in. It is at its core about learning and growing up, set against the backdrop of the whole universe. Throughout the length of the series Nova deals with threat after threat, a human rocket not only in name and powers, but also in the way he must act. Nova knows that the whole universe needs his aid in one way or the other, and he must race from one galaxy to the other to deal with crisis after crisis. In the very first issue of the series, in the very first page, Nova is responding to a call for help, one of the many he must attend to. In the very last issue, in the very last page, we have Nova once again responding to an emergency, in a scene that was purposely designed to be symmetric with the opening scene of the series, yet they are a world apart.


Though the scenes purposely mirror each other, much happened in the life of Nova in between them. While from the beginning of the series there wasn't a sense that Nova was a kid, in the early issues there was a certain uncertainty on what effect this new found power would cause him. One of the main reasons to recreate the Nova corps was so that Richard could unload some of the Nova force onto other people, the burden was weighing heavy on his shoulders and it could lead to insanity if he had kept it for too long. At the end of the series, once the Nova corps are up and running again, Richard does not have to act as the sole protector, he can finally slow down and let other people do the job for him. As I mentioned earlier, in the last page of the last issue, we see Nova responding to yet another threat, rocketing ahead of everyone else to protect the universe. Not because it is his sole burden to carry, but rather because that is the kind of person he has become over the course of the series. What was once a situation for the character now has become a character trait. This is comics, so nothing is set in stone, but the team of DnA have given Nova a personality that is bound to stick to the character for a long time.



If Spider-Man's moral tale is "With great power comes great responsibility", then Nova's responsibility is of immense proportions, but that's where the comparison ends. With Spider-Man, there's a sense that whatever he does is never enough to solve problems (which is what drives the character), while Nova DOES have the power and the ability to end these problems. We've seen this plenty of times, whether it's alien invasions, power-mad dictators, or evil God-like beings that are ruining people's lives, Nova always tries to be there. Nova's biggest enemy is time itself, of which he never has enough to solve every problem in the universe. At the same time, that lack of time is what drives him to try harder, run faster (figuratively), to fight every battle, and to come up at the top of every conflict. It makes for a welcome change of pace with a lot of other heroes, who are constantly drowning in self pity: Nova loves what he does, and if every day had more than 24 hours, he would spend those extra hours being the human rocket he is.

The Butt-Kickers of the Fantastic


Guardians of the Galaxy is a completely different book from Nova, a team ensemble compared to a solo book, but also because the series acted as a spiritual prequel to the previous Guardians of the Galaxy series, the one published during the 90s. While Nova was the continuation of the character, Guardians of the Galaxy was the thematic prequel to a past book. I know that sounds a bit confusing, but the previous series was set in the distant future, while this recent one is set in the "present" of the Marvel Universe. The nature of the book meant that a lot of themes running through it were the shaping of the future, predestination, and the fulfillment of that destiny. All throughout the series there are visits from characters of the future reminding them of how important their mission is, how relevant and influential their actions can (and will) be.


The series starts with the formation of the team, leaded by Star-Lord's actions and motivations, and their mission is simple yet of Herculean proportions: protect the universe from the next big threat. How can one man alone shape the future? Easy: networking! Peter Quill assembles a misfit group of renegades and strong personalities and wants to make a well functioning team out of them. With people like Drax the Destroyer, Gamora, Rocket Raccoon, Adam Warlock, Groot, and others in the team, this proved to be no easy task. Much of the book is dedicated to these individuals coming together, developing small clusters of friendships (Groot and Rocket, for example), and just generally working together for the betterment of the universe. The stabilization of the team as a functioning unit is meant to mirror the stabilization of the future incarnations of the team.


From the first issue of the book, DnA use a very unconventional story telling method, the "Debrief Logs", which run throughout the whole series. They are little snippets of recorded video that the members record after the mission, to log and record what happened. More often than not, they would appear in the middle of the action, delivering exposition and motives behind actions. In the final issue of the series, we learn that the person viewing these logs are actually the future members of the Guardians of the Galaxy. I thought that was an incredibly clever twist, further cementing the importance of the Peter Quill's and his kooky band of warriors: their day-to-day adventures are literally becoming the history books of the future, which is in constant flux.


Like I mentioned earlier, the shaping of the future is a constant theme throughout the book. From issue one, the Guardians of the Galaxy declare themselves a pro-active force, not sitting idly for problems to come to them, but getting involved in all kinds of situations before the trouble arises, though they often fail to prevent them. In the process they become a deadly team, one that many foes may underestimate, a galactic force to be reckoned with, one that will ultimately shape and affect the cosmos. Through sheer force of will, through team work and perseverance in the face of adversity, the Guardians of the Galaxy come together, even if things were a bit touch and go in the middle. They had to overcome betrayals by their own team mates, distrust among themselves, and the death of several of their friends. All in a day's work for the Guardians of the Galaxy.

Conclusion

If this is the end for both series, they can go proudly, knowing that they left behind a rich and incredibly entertaining body of work, one that will inspire future generations of creators and readers alike. For Nova, his past is set in stone, his series shaped the character and he will not go back to being the rookie kid from Long Island anymore. For the Guardians of the Galaxy, the future is what they make of it, full of possibilities and open to the imagination, but at the same time dangers and threats for them to face. Either way, if these series do indeed make a comeback, you can count me there, and if not, I have plenty of issues of Nova and Guardians of the Galaxy to go back and re-read. 


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24 comments:

BT said...

I really hope they don't get canceled. Those are two of the few marvel books that are consistantly great to read.

TexiKen said...

They will come back, but relaunched with #1's so they can charge $4.

This is how Marvel works.

Both books have been Marvel's best titles though.

Anonymous said...

I'm pretty sure Marvel will have at least one cosmic book after the Thanos miniseries. Maybe they can combine Nova and GotG together with one or the other as a back-up.

Ivan said...

Looking at the first scan, I could only think: "what visor"?

I'm not sure these series are published around here, I look around. I remember Nova from New Warriors, and I remember no mention of the "Nova Corps". Is that a new thing? Then again, it's been ages and I don't know nothing about the character before NW.

Kirk Warren said...

I'm thinking Nova might lose his title and be spotlighting in Secret Avengers with odd cameos in the cosmic books from now on. Hope not, but seems likely. That would leave room for Gurdians or some other ensemble cast cosmic title to fill the void. Or an Inhumans book. I'd love that, but it seems unlikely.

grifter said...

Star-Bolt? did you mean Star-Lord?

Matt Duarte said...

@Grifter: Good catch. You have no idea how many times I proof read this article, and I somehow missed that mistake in all of them. Fixed it just now.

grifter said...

glad to be a regular reader :-)

Aaron Kimel said...

These two titles have been the most consistently enjoyable Marvel titles over the last two years: better than Daredevil; better than Captain America; better than Thor; better than Fantastic Four; better even than Incredible Hercules. Even the storyline I thought weakest - Drax and Phyla-Vell go to Oblivion - turned out to actually be pretty damn good when I read it again in trade. Since neither seems to be selling 25k a month, I can't say I'm surprised they're "going on hiatus", but I'm still pretty devastated. At least we get what will likely be a fun miniseries out of their demise in the Thanos Initiative.

Ryan K Lindsay said...

It's interesting that, much like Ghost Rider, these small series seem to go out with an event bang rather than a whimper. Better than nothing, I guess.

Daryll B. said...

Of course we need to clear these books out of the way for the 11th Wolvie book, 7th Spidey book, 10th X-Men book or umpteenth Avengers book....

Then you get comic fans who cry about wanting fresh and new stories...what about these two books?

I give up.... Here's hoping Thanos' event will be good...but man this like a kick to the nether regions to me....

The Dude said...

I think Im simply mirroring sentiments already said - but these are two titles that deserve to continue in the future as they have been incredible from their very first issues.
I know that Nova may not come back as there has been rumour of his being part of the heroic age and maybe having something to do with the avengers so I dont expect Nova to return (though would love if it did)..
but Guardians should not be cancelled, not as it is, not with the world of potential before it.

Anonymous said...

Nova was boring that's why it was cancelled

Anonymous said...

It's funny. I love these books, and Nova definitely deserves an ongoing series. However, I found that both books suffered during the Annihilation Conquest & War of Kings tie-ins. During Conquest, Nova spent half a year fighting the technarch virus while being chased by Destroyer & Gamora. That REALLY bogged down the series, distracting from the main premise of one man being the only policeman for the whole galaxy. Restarting the Nova Corps & the whole Ego storyline really ground the story down to a standstill. It had good moments, like when Quasar merged with Richard Rider, but those were few and far between.

I'd love to see both books (especially GotG) return after Thanos Initiative, but if Nova & the Guardians are going to be in these new Annihilation events, make them a CORE part of the story, and not just some inconsequential subplot. It's just dull when the Guardians are playing peacemaker between the Kree & the Inhumans; make it the Kree at war with the Guardians to the death. It's dull when Richard Rider is powerless & sidelined while Gladiator massacres a bunch of novice Novas (off-panel of course, which makes it even more boring.)

Anonymous said...

question what are your views on the GL 57 cover. there is a debate going on at Rokks site which seems that a lot ofpeople are saying it is not

Anonymous said...

Wasn't there a very recent interview with Bru on CBR where he inadvertently indicates that Nova's would have a solo book, which is why he can't use Rich all the time?

Anonymous said...

Deeply upsetting to see both books being on "hiatus" (cancelled). Cosmic Marvel has been head and shoulders above domestic marvel. Both have had almost constant events - Annihilation, Civil War, Annihilation:Conquest, Secret Invasion, War of Kings, Dark Reign, Realm of Kings, Dark Reign (Still) and now Heroic Age and Thanos Imperative but the cosmic events have always been better. They draw in stories and create a character network rather than a reliance on cross-overs. If anything, I hope they cancel the almost constant "other universe" Marvels like Iron Man Noir. The books have had engaging characters and deeply enthralling plotlines, whereas the GotG had an overarching feel to it sometimes. Nova just kept moving at a pace you'd expect from the Human Rocket (well except the Techarchy thing which was a LITTLE too long, but only a little). It's a shame to see such good books being cancelled. I feel this spells doom for 2007-reborn cosmic marvel after the Thanos Imperative. Well, let's hope it goes out with a bang.

Anonymous said...

Sadly they are gone and removed from everything on the Marvel website. I am a Nova follower since the 70's, he was cool. The New Warriors built him back up, the relaunch a Nova series, I collected it, it was awful. The bring him back, and he is awesome....... GotG, they been chugging all along, not the greatest, but entertaining. They had alot more to be able to go....was hoping they would get there!
And to respond to what someone wrote above, Cannonball, they made him a strong toon, with a strong growing up background with Cable ad X Force and they have turned him into a mess.......so Marvel will do the same to Nova, sadly.
Here is to them not doing that. But..................here is the the 11th, wolverine title, the 13th Iron Man....the 60th Spider Man, the 7th hulk etc....what F'ing idiots

Anonymous said...

Since the mid-1990's been a follower of Guardians of the Galaxy. Have all the issues now, both series including the first appearance of the team "Marvel Super Heroes # 18" and was totally siked to see the series make a come back with most of the Infinity Watch as a cast. Nova had grown so much as a character as well, never was my favorite especially back in New Warriors but has really really grown on me enough that I now own all issues of the recent series as well as the mini from Annihilation.

Bringing back Thanos and Quasar has been pivital to my "sticking around" with these series and even though Thanos Imperative has been a little slow and dissapointing so far (Only have read up to issue # 2) it has its moments of Zen as well. I am a little shocked that they put Nova and Guardians on hiatus for this series after the rigerous come along issues of the past three or four mini series.

What propabably ticks me off the most about the current status of these two series is:

A: Dark Quasar went from looking like regular Quasar to looking like basically a bumpy faced Nightcrawler in Ignition all of a sudden, What is with the blue skin???

B: While it is great to have Thanos back, he has really been the sole focus so far of this story arch aside from Cancerverse which personally is not much of an interesting storyline, it reeks of Marvel Zombies basically and the Rift could have been used to really pull together some Original Guardians of the Galaxy loose ends instead. We have a wealth of characters from the alternate 31st century series that could really give these current aged heroes a run for their money to protect their continuity and heck in the end just move them to a 2010 Planet or Knowhere and deconstruct the 31st century timeline completely. This whole Council of Galactic Guardians is interesting but totally unexplained and totally a bit of a mess to leave hanging.

C: Adam Warlock aka Magus or vice versa BETTER NOT BE FREAKING DEAD AGAIN! Just really not cool to revive him yet again to waste him in a such a bad way! There better be some Infinity Gem magic by the end of the series going on.

D: What happened to Epoch, Eon's child and guidance counselor to the Protector of the Universe? Did Wendall's discorporation make him forget about "it"? Is "it" still "studying" on some alien library world???? What about the Starbrand and Kayla B.??? Loose ends here, very frustrating in spite Thanosy goodness. I think after this series they need to revamp the series's and get back to their absolute roots. Nova rebuild the corps, and the Guardians need more Time Jolt character expansion. Rancor and the Mutants of Haven for a bout anyone? Talon and Krugar could coordinate their mystic lackings until they fix Adam Warlock? Something. Anything would be worthwhile.

Anonymous said...

Ok, so here's my reprisal for above:

Out of Thanos Imperative the ONE and ONLY cool thing that we got from that series was the mysterious Infinity Sword. As far as I know, that thing is still in the Cancerverse and Thanos ain't no dummy, and he sure as heck didn't leave Nova and Star(gay)Lord to get crunched either, so the question is: HOW LONG ARE DNA GONNA MAKE US WAIT TO GET THEM BACK.

ANNIHILATORS:

What's next Conquestarators? Seriously, a $5 comic book half of which is about the most powerful cosmic heroes being really bad at team-play and making them weaker because they are a team SUCKS! Rocket and Groot, eh, it is what it is, but seriously ticked off half my $5 goes to this secondary storyline over more actual action and adventure Marvel Cosmic style.

STILL WAITING TO FIND OUT WHAT HAPPENED TO EPOCH, EON'S DAUGHTER AS WELL!

I just don't get what's happened here, with Annihilation it started this grand run of cosmic books, by realm of Kings there was so much to work with and frankly it was hard to even keep up, BUT at least it was building and going somewhere, at this point I just don't get it, 4 issues, half of each issue are just pointless IMO and it's like they introduce and update characters just to kill them off in the end!?!

We need an Infinity Gauntlet style adventure introducing a new character that gives Thanos a run for his money for a change, even with the Infinity Sword. We need Adam Warlock, Gamaora, Drax, Moondragon, & Pip to find their way back to the mainstream universe with some universal grand scheme to rule the galaxy or something for the betterment of all, and explore what that means for the Kree and Shi'ar when it turns out they are untouchable. Something with mystery but interwoven with the familiar as well.

Bring back the Stranger and have him shake up some quadrants with a mass relocation of different species, mixing populations together on various planets and creating ultimate chaos that can't be undone and just needs to be given order, Earthbound heroes could take a hiatus from Earth to assist, in a sort of Spacelike Iraqi Freedom type of adventure... heck I'd buy some heroes biting it on the side of a road by Alien Insurgants. Something, anything! PLEASE!

Nova corps, Luminals, Star Jammers, Imperial Guard, SpaceKnights, Raptors these are all groups that can be used to create a latticework of interstellar masterwork! Let's get the game into high gear and really kick it into this century!

That is all for now, and yea, Make Mine Marvel...still...

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