Apr 22, 2013

Back Issue Ben: Guarding the Galaxy, Part 11: Everywhere and Knowhere

Back Issue Ben is a column written by Ben Smith for the Comics Cube! See his archives here.

Part Eleven: Everywhere and Knowhere
by Ben Smith

Previously, a technological race called the Phalanx have taken over the Kree empire, enslaved the minds of the Kree people, and cut off that section of space from the rest of the galaxy. Former heroes and allies have already been enslaved to the Phalanx cause by the transmode virus, becoming members of their elite Select. The new Quasar, the mysterious Wraith, and Starlord (plus a team of misfits) fight back against the technological invaders.

Nova had been infected by the Phalanx virus, but with the help of Worldmind, was able to overcome it. In an effort to escape Kree space, he opened a wormhole inside a star, which sent him all the way to the edge of the universe, into uncharted territory. He was followed by Gamora and Drax, who are both part of the Phalanx’s elite Select.

(These issues were released concurrently with Annihilation: Conquest.)

Nova #8. Writers: Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning; Pencils: Wellinton Alves; Inker: Scott Hanna; Editor: Bill Rosemann

Nova reflects back on a conversation he had with Peter Quill during the Annihilation War, where Peter was trying to explain the layout of the universe to him.

Back in the present day, Nova fights against dimensional vortexes, swirling around him from the Rip (the edge of space). He blacks out, and when he wakes up, finds himself inside some kind of ship or construct.

Nova comes across a colorfully dressed woman curled up on the floor, crying. Worldmind identifies her as a member of the Luminals, global protectors of Xarth Three (basically an alien version of an Avengers-type team). She is incoherent, babbling about the darkness and an abyss. Suddenly she explodes with energy, and her face melts off in a gruesome scene.

She attacks him, and Nova responds with a force blast that sets her on fire, and causes her to explode. His blast wasn’t strong enough to cause that type of reaction, but the three newly arriving members of the Luminals aren’t going to give him the benefit of the doubt.

Worldmind encourages Nova to retreat, as it is taking 83% of his power reserves just to keep the transmode virus in check. Nova escapes to a safe distance, and takes a moment to rest, where he is approached by a most unusual visitor. That visitor, a telepathic Russian dog named Cosmo.

I love Cosmo so much!

After the initial shock of a talking dog, Nova introduces himself, but Cosmo already knows who he is, and praises him as “man who pull Annihilus’s heart out through his mouth.”

Cosmo explains that Nova has arrived at Knowhere, a space station housed inside the severed head of a giant Celestial. (Seriously? If you can’t appreciate that, you are hopeless.) Cosmo is the head of security there.

Knowhere is the last place in all of creation, riding the edge of the Rip. Visitors come to Knowhere from all over the universe, to observe the end of the universe from the closest available platform. But currently, everyone is hiding in fear, taking shelter in a pocket universe generated in one of the labs.

The Luminals brought something bad onboard, inside a giant box, something that was killing people. Six levels below, the remaining members of the Luminals address the giant box, which is in the shape of a coffin. They address someone inside by the name of Abyss. Suddenly, the Luminals are changed into zombie-like creatures.

My brain thoughts: This issue introduces Cosmo and Knowhere, both of which will show up again later. Cosmo is so great. (If only there was a comic that featured all of these great new and revitalized characters, all in one place…) If you can’t get excited about a telepathic Russian dog, and a space station made out of the head of a Celestial, I don’t know what to do with you. You might be afflicted with some Wolfman-levels of depravity, and let me tell you, that’s just not healthy.

Nova #9. Writers: Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning; Pencils: Wellinton Alves; Inkers: Wellington Diaz and Nelson Pereira; Editor: Bill Rosemann

The first time Cosmo knew something was wrong onboard was three days ago, when he found two residents fused into the bulkhead. Strange energy readings had been tracked to the area reserved by the Luminals, where Cosmo saw their big box. He was turned away, but not before leaving them with a warning. The next day, mass craziness broke out, similar to a station-wide haunting. Cosmo got everyone evacuated and safely tucked away in a dimensional envelope, which he keeps on his collar. Worldmind reveals that records indicate that the Abyss is the Luminals' arch-enemy. He has mystical powers, and is able to turn sentient beings into something called “meat puppets.” He has shown the uncanny ability to escape from anything over the years.

When Nova asks why he and Cosmo are unaffected by the Abyss’s mystical powers, Worldmind surmises that Cosmo’s telepathy protects him, while the transmode virus is probably blocking him from affecting Nova.

Upon hearing this, Cosmo expresses deep sympathies that Nova is “transmode postitive.” (I like the idea of saying he’s “transmode positive.” It’s a subtle little way to make the virus seem more real, at least to me.)

They are attacked by the zombie Luminals, where Cosmo more than holds his own in combat.

Worldmind reminds Nova of his 83% deficiency, and he retreats with Cosmo in tow (tongue dangling out and enjoying the ride). They locate the casket holding Abyss, with the Luminals right behind them. Spirits swirl all around them. Cosmo uses his powers to hold them back, while Nova inspects the box. The Abyss taunts him that nothing has ever been able to hold him, and that he will escape. Nova decides to let out a little of the transmode virus, linking him up with the mechanisms of the box, allowing him to repair it and reseal it off from the outside world.

With the Abyss completely cut off from the outside again, the spirits fade away.

Twenty-four hours later, Knowhere is back to full operations. Nova has rested, but letting out the virus has weakened his resistance to it, putting him in greater danger of a relapse. Cosmo escorts Nova to the continuum cortex, which is a nexus point to anywhere in the universe, powered by the brain stem of the Celestial. Cosmo has plotted Nova a course to Kvch, the homeworld of the Technarchy (the race of beings the Phalanx spawned from).

Nova prepares to depart, tossing Cosmo a new chew toy he bought for him as thanks.

A few hours later, Cosmo investigates a disturbance that leaves several of his security detail dead. Gamora and Drax made their way aboard, and followed Nova through the continuum cortex.

My brain thoughts: What are the odds Marvel would find two artists named Wellinton and Wellington?

Nova #10. Writers: Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning; Pencils: Wellinton Alves; Inkers: Wellington Diaz and Nelson Pereira; Editor: Bill Rosemann

Nova and Gamora wake up together in an unknown place.

She initially attacks him, but he is able to convince her to hold hostilities until they can figure out what happened to them. They come across a trapped Pachyceph Voidnaut (elephant person), but before they can help him, they are besieged by bright luminescent creatures. The creatures attach themselves to the elephant guy, attacking him, so Nova grabs Gamora and speeds away.

The virus is hitting Nova hard. Gamora tries to convince him to give in, or else he may die trying to fight it off.

Nova reveals why he ended their relationship from before. During the Annihilation War, Nova had put Gamora in charge of interrogating Kree collaborators, but she felt it was quicker to just kill them.

The creatures attack again, forcing Nova to use his powers to get them both safely away again. The virus hits him harder each time, and Gamora begs him to give in, to save his own life. She reveals she stayed away from him by the end of the war too, because he made her feel guilty about the person she is. As a Select, she doesn’t have to face the guilt anymore. She has a purpose.

Worldmind interrupts to tell Nova that he has discovered where they are. They are inside a Vore, a predator that hunts in the space between dimensions. It snatched them up during their extradimensional travel. The creatures that keep attacking are its young, but now, they are all caught in the creature’s birthing canal. Nova and Gamora are pushed out into space with the rest of the young.

Nova renders Gamora unconscious, locates Drax, and dumps her on him before taking off again.

Back on course for Kvch, Nova can feel the transmode virus trying to take over.

My brain thoughts: Gamora’s admissions about her feelings of inadequacy and guilt, and her lack of purpose, will be important later. (I keep saying that a lot don’t I? Oh well, it’s true every time.)

Nova: Annual #1. Writers: Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning; Pencilers: Wellinton Alves, Klebs, and Mahmud A. Asrar; Inkers: Juan Vlasco and Nelson Pereira; Editor: Bill Rosemann

Nova alternates between a flashback of his origin, and visions of a Phalanx-dominated future. His vision of the future shows him forty years later, having rebuilt the Nova Corps back up, preparing to launch an attack against the Earth, under Phalanx control.

It also has the nice little touch of having Ko-Rel’s son Zam as a member of the Corps

His vision ends with him suiting up to join the battle.

Nova wakes up to find himself trapped in an unknown place. After a few moments, Worldmind comes back online. He put Nova in a coma to protect him from the virus, which was overwhelming his system. The virus tried to probe his psyche to determine any weaknesses, causing the visions.

The virus still threatens to take over, but Nova has made it to Kvch.

My brain thoughts: Mostly a vehicle to re-tell the origin of Richard Rider becoming Nova, but there were some impressive splash pages to look at.

Nova #11. Writers: Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning; Penciler: Paul Pelletier; Inker: Rich Magyar; Editor: Bill Rosemann

Kvch is deserted. Initially, Worldmind can detect no vital activity above or below the surface, but he eventually registers something moving a small distance away. Nova goes to investigate, finding a massive machine entity. It is attacked by another giant machine, with Nova caught in the middle. When Nova tries to escape, the virus, boosted by the presence of the mechanical life, takes over completely.

A being disembarks from one of the giant mechanoids, revealing itself to be Warlock, former member of the New Mutants.

Some time later, Nova has recovered, thanks to Warlock supplying a portion of his “lifeglow” to restore him. (Warlock is a member of the Technarchy race that spawned the Phalanx.)

Nova tells Warlock of the Phalanx invasion, but Warlock regretfully declines to help. Warlock is determined to break the destructive cycle of the Technarchy society, where offspring are required to fight their Siredams (fathers) for the right to survive. All mature Technarchs had deserted the planet in search of lifeglow, but leave their young behind to develop, in preparation for a future fight to the death.

Warlock introduces Nova to Tyro, an infant he had found on Kvch and raised as his own. Long ago, Warlock was infected with a mutant strain of the transmode virus, making him non-aggressive, unlike the rest of his species. He has tried to instill in Tyro the same values, which will be needed to break the endless cycle of their destruction.

Nova tries to convince him to reconsider and help fight the Phalanx, but it would take all of Warlock’s lifeglow just to cure Nova himself, he just does not have enough power to save the entire Kree race.

On the other side of the planet, Gamora and Drax arrive.

As soon as they touch down, their bodies distort and mutate, combining with the planet to create a Babel Spire. The Spire sends a message out into space.

Tyro’s body spasms in pain. Warlock and Nova discover the Babel Spire made out of Gamora and Drax. The spire has summoned a fully mature Technarch, a Siredam.

My brain thoughts: Paul Pelletier took over pencils with this issue. You will be seeing his name again, often.

Nova #12. Writers: Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning; Penciler: Paul Pelletier; Inker: Rich Magyar; Editor: Bill Rosemann

The Siredam lands planetside, and tunnels under the surface toward Nova and Warlock.

The closer it gets, the worse Nova’s viral infection becomes.

Tyro wants to fight the Siredam, but Warlock orders him to the go to the escape dock and leave. Warlock returns to Nova, making him promise to hold off the Siredam until Tyro has had enough time to escape. He gives Nova all of his lifeglow, sacrificing himself to cure Nova.

Now fully restored, Nova fights the Siredam. Even at full power, the Siredam is too much for him. Nova tries to evade the creature.

Suddenly, Tyro comes barreling down out of the sky toward the Siredam.

The Siredam easily rips Tyro in two, and swallows him. Almost immediately after, internal explosions rock the body of the Siredam. Worldmind scans that its techno-organic coding is being rewritten from the inside.

Tyro has taken over the body of the larger Siredam. Warlock had shared the mutant strain of the transmode with Tyro early in his life, which reacted with the body of the Siredam, converting it. The Siredam’s personality couldn’t cope with the viral overwrite, allowing Tyro to take control of its form, and its immense reserves of lifeglow.

Nova quickly retrieves the body of Warlock, so that Tyro can restore his lifeglow and bring him back to life.

With Warlock restored, Nova has Tyro cure Gamora and Drax of the transmode virus. Drax is grateful for being restored, but Gamora is despondent over the loss of purpose that being a part of the Phalanx had provided for her.

Warlock and Tyro offer their help against the Phalanx. Together with Nova, Drax, and Gamora, they prepare to join the war against the Phalanx.

My brain thoughts: Could have used 100% more Cosmo.

My final brain thoughts: Telepathic Russian space dog, decapitated Celestials, birthed by an alien space whale, Phalanx-infected Avengers, and zombies!

Your life will never be the same after having discovered Cosmo. There is only pre-Cosmo life, and post-Cosmo life. I hadn’t read these issues when I initially read Annihilation: Conquest, so I kinda wondered where Nova was for the majority of that story, especially since he played such a big role in Annihilation. It ended up being a great decision, giving other characters a chance to play a bigger role in his absence. I like Nova, but I don’t love him (I think he and I should just be friends), so it didn’t bother me at all that other characters got the chance to shine. Especially if it’s Rocket Raccoon, and Starlord, and Groot, and…

Wouldn’t it be great it all these characters were in one single ongoing comic book series?

Next time, Conquest!

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