Jeff Loveness and Ramón Perez bring together Richard Rider and San Alexander for some out-of-this-world adventure!
About five years have passed since fans last saw Richard Rider, fka the original Nova, as he and Star-Lord stayed behind in the alternative universe known as the Cancerverse to keep Thanos from returning to this reality. With both Peter Quill and the Mad Titan having since returned to the Marvel Universe, the question became whether or not Rider would follow suit.
Wonder no more, as Rider returned in the last issue of the most recent NOVA title, and November will see the original Human Rocket share a book with his successor, Sam Alexander, as NOVA #1 debuts. We caught up with the book’s creative team, Jeff Loveness and Ramón Perez, to discuss the new title and what fans can expect when two generations of Novas team up!
Marvel.com: So Richard Rider is back. A lot of people have been waiting for this moment; is there any added pressure on you guys knowing how much fans have been anticipating his return?
Jeff Loveness: Rich has a ton of fans and such a huge legacy in the cosmic universe, so there’s a lot of pressure. But I’m excited to portray another side to Rich. He saved the universe from the Annihilation Wave, he gave his life in the Cancerverse, and now he’s been violently thrust back into life. That takes a toll on a person—no matter how bulletproof they think they may be. Rich feels detached from the world he thought he knew so well. And maybe the world feels detached from him. Rich has been out of the game for a while. I think we’ve got a very unique take to build him back up from the bottom and see what makes him such a resilient hero.
Ramón Perez: Returning back from the dead is not an uncommon thing in comics, but it’s definitely fun to play with. A lot has happened in the Marvel Universe since Rich “died,” and a lot has changed from who some of the heroes are and their playing field. Rich will be interesting in the sense of dissecting a hero, and what makes an individual choose to be one. Rich did the greatest thing he could have done as a hero; he saved the universe and died heroically in doing so. How does one return from that, and do they once again choose to don that mantle?
But is there pressure bringing him back? Of course there’s a little, but expectation can be a fan’s worst enemy. We’re not bringing back the old Rich; he’s come and gone. This is a changed man, and we’re telling his story. The new chapter in Rich’s life. So I hope fans like what we put forward.
Marvel.com: What drew you guys to the book? Were you fans of the character before taking the assignment?
Jeff Loveness: I grew up a die-hard X-Men fan, so most of my cosmic knowledge came from their perspective. Trust me, I’m sure Ramón is tired of hearing my Cyclops rants. I will live and die for Scott Summers.
Nova’s obviously a huge power-player in the cosmic scheme of things. [I’m] catching up on all the lore, while still focusing on making it accessible for readers just picking up the book. The best characters feel timeless and modern at the same time. Hopefully we’ll hit that balance with Rich and Sam.
I’m a big fan of Sam Alexander, especially Gerry Duggan’s take. There’s an earnestness and optimism to Sam that I love in my Marvel Comics. Doing the right thing and being punished for it is, to me, the bedrock of Marvel storytelling. Sam’s the best example of that in the current books that I know.
Plus, I was a horrifyingly awkward, lonely teenage boy—and current man, I suppose—so writing Sam’s high school anxieties is an excellent substitute for therapy. Believe me, I was a teenager who worked in the snack bar and loved Cyclops more than Wolverine. High school did not go well.
Ramón Perez: I knew of Nova, both Rich and Sam, but really knew very little of the character. I was approached by Marvel with various options as to what my next project might be. For me it’s the story, and not the character in particular, that draws me to a project. Nova stood out as a rare opportunity, especially with the return of Rich, and the combined dynamic of him and Sam. Here you have two heroes with the same abilities, name, and mantle, but they are at opposite ends of the spectrum: one experienced, one inexperienced. Plus, it’s a cosmic book, which is a genre I love and grew up on. So it all added up as the right opportunity.
Marvel.com: Richard’s been gone from Earth for a while. How will he react to all the changes and events that have occurred since he was last there? Anyone in particular from his past you’re planning or just hoping to use in the book?
Jeff Loveness: Ramón and I definitely have some fun cameos lined up from Rich’s past, but I don’t know how much you guys want spoiled.
My favorite part of Marvel Comics—especially the cosmic side of things—is the wild stable of fun, outlandish side characters. I tried reviving a few in GROOT and making some of my own with [artist] Brian Kesinger, and I’d love to do the same here. Ramon’s been pouring through the back catalog. We’ve got some fun creatures on the way.
But yes, Rich’s readjustment to Earth and a universe that’s maybe moved on without him will be central to his arc. I grew up in a very rural area of the country. Many of my friends went to war. Some didn’t make it back. The ones who did weren’t the same. They always felt a distance—even back at home. I think there’s an interesting notion worthy of exploration there. While Rich was up there saving the universe, the Marvel heroes were down on Earth squabbling over Civil Wars and how to stop The Shocker from robbing a bank. Rich can’t help but feel disconnected from that.
Plus, you can’t just come back from death in the Cancerverse and expect everything to be fine. Death doesn’t let go that easily.
Ramón Perez: I’ll echo Jeff’s sentiments on this. There’s nothing more I enjoy doing in comics than bringing back and redefining B and C list characters. So I’m going out of my way exploring Nova’s back catalog, his rogues gallery, the Marvel array of cosmic characters dating back to the beginning of time, and doing my best to find some gems to play with.
Marvel.com: What’s the relationship like between Sam Alexander and Richard?
Jeff Loveness: To Sam, Rich is the super hero. He’s the Nova all other Novas try and fail to be. Remember when you were 15 and there was that older guy who just had it figured out? You idolized him, even his faults. Rich is that for Sam.
On the other hand, Sam is gonna be the one who helps Rich find his humanity and purpose again. The optimism and drive and wonder of it all are still so fresh to Sam. He’s naive and inexperienced, but his heart is in the right place. Sam’s the kind of person Rich needs in his life right now. I think they both balance each other off nicely.
Co-writing this with Ramón has been a great opportunity to really bring out the best in both characters. Ramón’s also on the art and knocking it out of the park. I can’t wait for you guys to see what he’s bringing to the table.
Ramón Perez: I touched upon this earlier, and Jeff sums it up nicely here, so ‘nuff said.
Marvel.com: Rich wasn’t the only big return in NOVA #11, as the main story centered on Sam encountering the Worldmind. Do you guys have plans to play with the themes and concepts from previous Nova stories—for instance, the Nova Corps—in the new title?
Jeff Loveness: Not a whole lot we can say without spoilers…but… uh…they’ll go into space and…do space stuff? Lasers will be shot. Helmets will be worn. Maybe Thanos will be there. Who’s to say? Thanos seems bad. Maybe they’ll fight. They’ll definitely run into Cyclops and compliment him for being such a dependable, battle-worn leader who gives his all for his family. That, I can guarantee.
Ramón Perez: Oooooh we’ve got some fun stuff planned. Will the Worldmind be a part of it? Who can say? I’m just really thinking Doctor Sun needs to make a return.
Marvel.com: Ramón, you’ve got two different Novas from two different eras in the book. Can you talk about your approach to the characters, and to the look and feel of the comic in general? Will most of the action be Earthbound, or will you get to cut loose with some space action as well?
Ramón Perez: With this series Jeff and I are trying to achieve a balance between Sam and Rich’s home life and the grander Marvel cosmos. With the characters in general, we have the brash and bravado of Rich, balanced with Sam’s old-school, youthful, Peter Parker-like awkwardness, and I’ll definitely be going out of my way to exemplify this in the art. For the overall visual mood and feel, I’m riffing off things I played with in my run on JOHN CARTER: THE GODS OF MARS, alongside a healthy dose of things like Akira, Astro Boy, and NEXTWAVE. I’m really trying to separate this series visually from its two recent predecessors, giving it a real kinetic flow with a diverse color palette to bring it to life.
Human Rockets ride together in NOVA from Jeff Loveness and Ramón Perez, coming this December!