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Nova (Richard Rider)

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For other comic book characters named Nova (Comics)

Promotional cover art to Nova #1 (2007).
Art by Adi Granov.
Character name = Nova
Publisher = Marvel Comics
Debut = Nova #1 (September 1976)
Creators = Marv Wolfman
John Buscema
Alter ego = Richard Rider
Species = Human
Homeworld = Earth
Alliances = United Front
New Warriors
Champions of Xandar
Secret Avengers
Nova Corps
Aliases = Nova Prime, Kid Nova, Nova #11249-44396, The Human Rocket, Quasar
Powers = *Flight *Superhuman strength, speed, and durability *Expert hand to hand combatant *Currently in possession, via download, of the Xandarian Worldmind which allows him near infinite control over the Nova Force granting energy projection and absorption *Ability to exert influence over gravitational forces and open wormholes

Nova (Richard Rider) is a fictional comic book superhero appearing in books published by Marvel Comics, historically as the star of his own series, and at other times, as a supporting character in team books such as The New Warriors. He is a member of the intergalactic police force known as the Nova Corps, for which he gained superhuman abilities including enhanced strength, flight and resistance to injury.

In May 2011, Nova placed 98th on IGN's Top 100 Comic Book Heroes of All Time.


Publication history

The character was created by Marv Wolfman and Len Wein in the fanzine Super Adventures in 1966. Seven years later John Romita, Sr. tweaked the design of the character's uniform. Nova debuted in Nova #1 in 1976, written by Wolfman and drawn by John Buscema. Wolfman intended the teenage character to be an homage to Stan Lee and Steve Ditko's Spider-Man, down to his humble working-class roots and alliterative alter-ego. The original Nova series, The Man Called Nova, lasted 25 issues from September 1976 to May 1979. Dangling plot lines were resolved in issues 206-214 of Fantastic Four (also by Wolfman) and issue 24 of Rom the Spaceknight. The character then disappeared into obscurity until returning as a member of the original New Warriors team debuting in The Mighty Thor #411 (December 1989), and continuing through New Warriors #1-75, Annual #1-4 (July 1990—September 1996).

Following two subsequent Nova titles, Nova vol. 2 #1-18 (Jan 94 - June 95) and Nova, The Human Rocket vol. 3 #1-7 (May - Nov 1999), Nova would return in New Warriors vol. 2 #0-10 (October 1999—July 2000) and New Warriors vol. 3 #1-6 (July 2005 - December 2005). After a four issue miniseries titled Annihilation: Nova and a leading role in Annihilation 1-6, a fourth volume of Nova ran for 36 issues (April 2007 - April 2010). This series tied into Annihilation: Conquest, Secret Invasion, and War of Kings. Dangling plot threads were addressed in The Thanos Imperative, a six-issue miniseries with two bookend one-shots (May 2010 - Feb 2011).

Nova appeared as a member of the Secret Avengers during its the four issues of that team's eponymous seris (May - Aug 2010).

Fictional character biography

Original series

Cover to Nova #1.
Art by Rich Buckler & Joe Sinnott.

Richard Rider, a student at the fictional Harry S. Truman High School in Hempstead, New York, is chosen at random by the alien Rhomann Dey, last surviving Nova Centurion of the planet Xandar's elite Nova Corps, to inherit his power and succeed him in the rank of Nova Prime following the destruction of his world by the intergalactic pirate Zorr. Having been mortally wounded in the battle that tore Xandar apart, Dey succeeds in tracking Zorr to Earth but is unable to defeat him due to the extent of his injuries. Near death, Dey chooses to transfer his power to an unsuspecting human on the planet below, praying that whomever he finds will take up his cause.

Rider gains the uniform and powers of a Centurion but little instruction on how to use these new powers. Overjoyed, Rider eagerly takes up the life of a superhero, fighting costumed supervillains in New York and gradually learning how to control his new abilities. Calling himself Nova, he makes arch-enemies out of street level thugs and cosmic level threats alike, fighting villains such as Condor and Powerhouse, Diamondhead, the Corruptor, and the Sphinx. Nova also teams with Spider-Man to capture Photon, who had killed Richard Rider's uncle, Ralph Rider, before ultimately choosing to reveal his secret identity to his family.

Rider eventually discovers Dey's Nova Prime Space Ship in orbit of earth, and Doctor Sun and the Sphinx lead Rider across the stars and to the newly reconstructed planet Xandar, the same world where his great powers originated. Traveling with them as well are Powerhouse, Comet, and Crimebuster. Engaged in bitter war against the Skrulls, the Xandarians form the Champions of Xandar, pressing Rider into service protecting their territories from attack. Nova and the Champions of Xandar fight alongside Rom the Space Knight to eventually defeat the Skrulls, though Xandar itself is left nearly defenseless in the aftermath. Tiring of life so far from home and hoping to rejoin his high school friends, Rider requests to be released from his duties on Xandar and return to Earth. When he is told he must relinquish his powers in order to do so, Rider reluctantly agrees.

New Warriors

Upon his return to earth, Rider lives a quiet life working as a cook at a fast food restaurant and barely making ends meet due to his disrupted education. He finds much of his prior life has passed him by and searches for a way to regain the powers he relinquished. He consults Reed Richards of the Fantastic Four to see if he could regain his powers. Unknown to him, during this period, the planet Xandar is utterly destroyed in an attack by the space pirate Nebula.

In a bid to secure new super-powered allies, the superhero Night Thrasher breaks into S.H.I.E.L.D. computers and steals the data of Richards' examination of Rider and other super-powered individuals. Deducing that Rider's powers were not taken completely from him but instead lay dormant inside the young man's body, Night Thrasher convinces himself that a high-stress situation will be enough to reactivate Rider's powers and open him up to recruitment. To that end, Night Thrasher kidnaps Rider and drops him off the top of a multi-story building. The fall causes Rider's powers to reignite from within him, saving his life.

Although highly annoyed at Night Thrasher's cavalier attitude, Rider joins his superhero group, the New Warriors, who first appear as a team aiding Thor in his fight with Juggernaut. Though their first battle pits them against Terrax the Tamer, their adventures together typically include dealing with street level supervillains as well as Nova's old foe the Sphinx. During this time, Rider begins dating teammate Namorita and becomes close friends with Speedball. While he was working with the New Warriors, Rider's parents learned that he had once again become Nova. Richard briefly dated Yale student Laura Dunham after she accidentally hit his delivery van during one of Rider's many odd jobs.

Cover to New Warriors (vol. 1) #75.
Pencils by Patrick Zircher.

Functioning for several years as an earth-bound superhero with no connection to the now defunct Nova Corps, Rider eventually encounters Garthan Saal, a former Nova Corps Centurion who has been driven insane by his quest to absorb the entirety of the Nova Force that powers all Nova Centurions. Having failed in his effort to exact revenge on Nebula for the destruction of his home planet, Saal instead turns his attention to restoring Xandar to its former glory. Stripping Rider of his powers for a second time, Saal transports Rider to Xandar again and forces him to assist in jump-starting the process that restores the dead planet to life. Rider also witnesses the reformation of the Nova Corps, which appoints him to the rank of Centurion Prime.

Assigned to Earth, Rider is confronted with the challenge of balancing dual lives as a member of both the Nova Corps as well as the New Warriors. Rider soon encounters another Nova Corps member from an alternate timeline named Nova 0:0, who attempts to prepare him to fight a mysterious force that had destroyed his own Earth: "the Deathstorm." Defying the direct order of Xandar's Queen Adora to return to Xandar to quell an emergency, Rider succeeds in stopping the Deathstorm and saving Earth. His success is short-lived, however, as Rider finds himself stripped of his powers once again and replaced as Centurion Prime by Garthan Saal. After several months, Saal is killed by Volx, Queen of the Dire Wraiths, returning the Nova force to Rider with his final breath.


Nova briefly travels the US with the reformed New Warriors as part of a reality television show. After the first season of the show, however, Rider leaves the group for Xandar to report for duty alongside the entire Nova Corps, which has been fully mobilized to respond to an unknown threat. Xandar and the Nova Corps are swiftly decimated by a surprise attack by the Annihilation Wave, a force from the Negative Zone. As the only surviving centurion, Rider makes contact with the Xandarian Worldmind, a living supercomputer that is the regulator of the Nova Force and caretaker of the entire collective database of Xandarian civilization. Worldmind explains that there is no choice but to upload itself and the entire Nova Force into his body and mind. This act greatly enhances his already superhuman strength and durability as well as granting him control of the nearly limitless energies of the Nova Force. During the Annihilation War, Rider takes command of the United Front, a loose collaboration of soldiers hailing from the worlds already under siege by Annihilus. In a nearly year-long campaign, Rider almost succeeds in pushing back the Wave's advance across the galaxy. When Annihilus utilizes the stolen power of his captive Galactus to destroy an entire planet, Rider switches tactics. Disbanding the United Front, he leads a small team deep into the Wave's conquered territory, intent on assassinating Annihilus himself. Forging alliances with the likes of Blastaar and the Galadorian Spaceknights along the way, Rider eventually engages Annihilus himself in personal combat, killing him and halting his wave of destruction.

After the Annihilation War, Rider began to proactively police the universe. When Worldmind insists Rider rest, he returns home to Earth. Angry that his pleas for help in the Annihilation War were ignored during the Civil War and feeling out of place on earth, Rider returns to space.

Post-"Annihilation" and Secret Avengers

Attempting to aid the Kree against an assault from the Phalanx during the "Annihilation: Conquest" storyline, Rider is badly wounded and crash lands on a sparsely populated Kree outpost. While Rider's unconscious body recovered, Worldmind deputized a local commander, Ko Rel, to guard him. When she disobeys Worldmind's direction, Rider is infected by the transmode virus and leaves with Gamora, who is now a part of the Phalanx. Now tasked with killing Rider before the Worldmind falls into enemy hands, Ko-Rel attacks him, only to be killed by Gamora in retaliation. Upon her death, her fraction of the Nova force returns to Rider and enables him to overcome the transmode virus. He flees Kree space pursued by Gamora and a Phanlanx-controlled Drax. Seeking a cure for the transmode virus, Rider eventually arrives on Kvch, home planet of the Technarchy. Rider enlists the help of the mutant Warlock and his son Tyro, who cure Rider, Drax, and Gamora of the transmode virus. The five return to Hala to engage the Phalanx.

When ambushed by some Skrulls during the Secret Invasion storyline, Rider is aided by Kl'rt. He learns about the Secret Invasion and heads for Earth. Rider learns that Project Pegasus, the base where his brother now works, is under Skrull attack. Working with Darkhawk, Rider successfully stops the Skrulls' advance. The scientists of the facility extract the Worldmind from his brain and use the supercomputer to jump-start a project known as the quantum flask, which restores Quasar to life. A Skrull warship is about to attack Project Pegasus but is destroyed by a band of alien Nova Centurions who then declare their allegiance to Rider.

During the "War of Kings" storyline, Rider learns that Worldmind had been recruiting for the Corps without telling him. When he learns that Ego the Living Planet is among the new recruits, he becomes enraged and tries to battle Worldmind. As a result, he is stripped of his rank and ejected from the Nova Corps. Because his body has become dependent on the Nova Force, Rider will die if he is without it for too long. As a temporary measure, he borrows the quantum bands from Wendall Vaughn and becomes Quasar. Using his new abilities, Rider goes to rescue the Corps from the War of Kings. Ego is removed as a Centurian and Rider regains his Nova Prime status, but not before most of the new recruits were slaughtered by the Shi'ar Imperial Guard. Nova agrees to train the remaining new Centurions including his younger brother Robert.

Nova is recruited for the Secret Avengers by Steve Rogers and sent to Mars to investigate Roxxon's operations on that planet. While there, Rider discovers a second Serpent Crown secreted there, only to fall under its influence until rescued by Rogers and his team of Avengers. Shortly after this mission, Nova is called away to deal with the events of The Thanos Imperative and Steve Rogers confirms he has left the team.

"Realm of Kings" and Thanos Imperative

In the "Realm of Kings" storyline, a lost Nova Corps ship appeared from a tear in space-time known as the Fault. Onboard was Zan Philo, a long-missing Nova centurion. Philo was assigned to train the probationers. Later, Rider and Darkhawk found themselves inside the Fault, where they are called to do battle for the Sphinx against his younger self. Because of the unstable timestream inside the Fault, Nova was able to return with Namorita, his old girlfriend who had died a few years earlier. Richard returned to Project Pegasus, where he confronts an alternate Quasar who came from the universe created by the Fault.

Catching up to the alternate Quasar, Rider arrives back at the Fault just in time to see the Universal Church of Truth rip it wide open. As Nova struggles to defend the Kree and Shi'ar warships against creatures inside the Fault, he receives assistance from Quasar and the Silver Surfer. They leave the battle, along with Gladiator, Ronan and Beta Ray Bill to chase down Lord Mar-Vell, the evil alternate version of Captain Marvel. After failing to stop Mar-Vell, Rider learns that the Guardians of the Galaxy need his help inside the Fault. Once there, Nova and the Guardians watch Thanos destroy Mar-Vell. Now facing an enraged Thanos, Rider pulls the Nova Force from the rest of the corps for extra strength. He and Star-Lord are able to hold Thanos back for the few minutes it takes for the Fault to close, trapping all three of them in the Cancerverse; the alternate universe implodes and the Fault is sealed in the process, seemingly killing them all. Nova and Star-Lord receive a statue in their honor on Hala.

Since Star-Lord and Thanos escaped the Cancerverse to go back to Marvel-616, the fate of Rider after that event will be revealed.

Powers and abilities

Nova derives his powers from an energy source called the Nova Force which all Nova Corps Centurions wield. This energy was transferred by Xandarian technology to Rider by the Nova-Centurion Rhomann Dey. Nova's small measure of the Nova Force gives him superhuman powers including flight, superhuman strength, speed, and durability, as well as the power to absorb energy directed against him and release it as gravimetric pulses and beams, either from specific parts of his body or from his entire body. Nova is a good hand-to-hand combatant, and has been coached by Chord.

Nova wears a standard Xandarian StarCorps uniform, designed to accommodate his powers without being damaged by them. The uniform is highly resistant to damage, including outer space conditions, and is airtight. In addition, the uniform has a built-in life support function that can sustain Rider under the most extreme environmental conditions, including acting as a life-support suit by locking off the mouth and eyes of the helmet. The helmet contains a radio telescopic sights, night vision sensors, and heat imaging sensors, as well as a visual heads-up display for tracking energy signatures. Nova's helmet has a rigid construction and shape when worn, but becomes as malleable as cloth when it is not, allowing Rider to hide it in his civilian clothes when desired. Nova's uniform is not only extremely malleable; it is also designed with specific weapons and functions to aid Rider in his role as a Nova Corps Centurion. Among these features are an electromagnetic discharge that can nullify gravity and access to StarGates that allow him to enter hyperspace, where he can move at velocities exceeding the speed of light. Rider can also alter the appearance and nature of his uniform to suit his needs. However, as Rider learns the hard way, the StarCorps keeps a strict dress code. When he makes major cosmetic changes to his uniform after rejoining the New Warriors, Nova is summarily ordered to conform to standard.

During Annihilation, Rider's uniform is altered and enhanced to house the Xandarian Worldmind as well as the entire Nova Force, which was previously used by all members of the Nova Corps. With the Worldmind and the Nova Force, Rider possesses tremendously augmented strength and durability as well as nearly limitless quantities of energy. The Worldmind consists of the entire culture and history of Xandar as well as the individual minds of thousands of years of dead Xandarians. The consensus voice of the Worldmind can speak directly to Rider, helping him to control the nova force, fight enemies, sense energy, interface with electronics, and protect against psionic abilities. The Worldmind can also assume direct control of Rider's body when he is asleep.

Reception and legacy

IGN ranked Nova as the 98th greatest comic book character, calling Nova a blend of Spider-Man and Green Lantern. They also stated that Nova experiences a growth into maturity through the Annihilation Wave storyline where Nova embraced his destiny as a premier defender of a battered galaxy.

Other versions

Earth X

In the alternate future of Earth X, Nova resides in the afterlife. He and two other deceased heroes, Ms. Marvel and Star-Lord, lead an initial charge against Mephisto but are swiftly defeated.

Marvel Zombies

Nova is featured in the Marvel Zombies edition Dead Days. Unable to overcome his fear and horror of the slaughter occurring around him, Nova fails to act in his own defense when Spider-Man attacks him. Fortunately for Nova, Daredevil intervenes but is bitten when Nova is too shocked to assist. He and The Mighty Thor are rescued by the Fantastic Four and united with the other surviving heroes on the S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier. Nova panics further when Nick Fury formulates a desperate last stand defense, citing that this was nothing like previous global threats; and that the world was as good as dead. Regardless, Nova helps in the battle until he is bitten by Ms. Marvel. As a zombie, he participates in a failed attack on Doctor Doom's castle, in an effort to get at the humans inside. A zombie version of Nova can be seen in the Marvel Zombies limited series, being shredded by a hail of metal fragments hurled by Magneto.

He is still mobile, as a zombie, when a swarm of zombies attack and attempt to consume the Silver Surfer. During the incident, Zombie Hulk crushes Zombie Hercules when the latter attempts to steal the Silver Surfer's head. Nova backs away, saying "On second thought, you keep that, big guy". He is later killed by the cosmic zombies.


MC2 Nova's first appearance: Spider-Girl #7
Richard Rider appears frequently in the Spider-Girl series, which is set in an alternate future. The MC2 Nova (co-created by Tom DeFalco and Ron Frenz) first appeared in Spider-Girl #7 and wrongly believed Spider-Girl was a supervillain since she was fighting Darkdevil at the time. After a brief battle Nova later realizes his mistake.

Over time, the MC2 Nova attempts to tutor Spider-Girl on the importance of being a superhero. His arrogance and lack of patience with younger heroes causes his lessons to be largely ignored. However, the fact that Nova was a founding member of the New Warriors gave Spider-Girl the inspiration to form a new MC2 version of the Warriors.

By the time of the series, Nova has served as a temporary Avenger. He also appears in the Last Hero Standing and Avengers Next limited series. Nova also assisted in the battle against Galactus in Last Planet Standing. The Nova in the MC2/Spider-Girl future is eventually confirmed to be Richard Rider in Avengers Next #2. His attitude toward Spider-Girl is often arrogant and dismissive, bordering on the contemptuous; but later he becomes impressed by her, after her surviving a battle against the Avengers' enemy Seth.

Forever Yesterday

Nova appears as a member of a team of Avengers from a parallel reality where the Middle East is the dominant superpower. He serves the ruler of this dimension, the tyrannical female Sphinx. He is shown the truth of how the female Sphinx used the energy of the Ka Stone to reshape reality by the original Sphinx's former advisor Sayge. Nova betrays the Sphinx to join Marvel Man (Vance Astrovik) and Firestar of that world's Mutant Liberation Front as well as Night Thrasher whose parents were murdered in this reality on the orders of the Sphinx. When Nova threatens to murder the Sphinx's cat, she restores reality.

Nova 0:0

The second Nova series Nova deals with Nova 0:0 who is much more adept at using his powers than Richard Rider. He often fights Nova in order to test him and to push Nova into using his powers in new ways. It is revealed that this Nova is in fact the alternate reality version of Richard's younger brother Robert. In that reality Robert gained the Nova Force powers instead of Richard and stayed behind to lead the Nova Corps and help Xandar rebuild after the war with the Skrulls. Robert's earth had been destroyed by the Deathstorm while he was off in space. Nova 0:0 would later sacrifice his life preventing the Deathstorm from destroying the 616-version of Earth. He died and was buried on Mars. In the fourth Nova series the Robert Rider of the 616-version of Earth also becomes a member of the Nova Corps (alongside various other humans and non-humans) and again proves capable of using his powers in ways his brother Richard had not.

What If

An issue of What If? looks at what would have taken place if four different people had acquired the power of Nova:

  • A young woman who had recently witnessed her husband being murdered by a random thief. Using the Nova powers, she unleashed a wave of vengeance on criminals as she searched for her husband's killer even throwing the Kingpin out of a window when he failed to provide her with the information she sought. Her enraged mind is unable to discriminate between good and evil as she attacks anyone who she perceives as hindering her quest. Nova's career culminates in a fight against the Fantastic Four. Recognizing that she cannot be allowed to take justice into her own hands even if she had mainly killed criminals, the team banishes her to the Negative Zone. After her departure, police discovered the body of her husband's killer in a car that had fallen into a river months ago.
  • A homeless man discovered the Nova costume after being thrown out of a hotel, and wore it for warmth, When he became caught up in a Skrull attack on Earth that coincidentally started at the orphanage where he was staying for the night on Christmas, the man donned the Nova costume and fought the Skrulls, culminating in him sacrificing himself to destroy the Skrull fleet.
  • Peter Parker, paralyzed in this reality due to the spider-bite that gave him his powers in the true Marvel Universe, is bitter at the world due to his useless legs and his Aunt May's death from shock after she first learned about his paralysis. When he acquired the Nova powers, Peter flew home to reveal his good fortune to his Uncle Ben, only to surprise the burglar when he was attempting to rob the house, resulting in the burglar's bullet ricocheting off the Nova armor and killing him. Stricken with grief at his role in a burglar's death, Peter throws the costume away vowing never to use it again, even as he discovers that he can walk again.
  • An unidentified man used the Nova powers to lead Earth's criminals in the conquest of Earth and destruction of the heroes only to be killed when Doctor Doom and Red Skull turned on him out of jealousy. This allowed Sphinx to take control of the Nova-Prime computer and use it to search the minds of the world for the meaning of his existence.

In other media


  • The Richard Rider incarnation of Nova appears in a background cameo in the Silver Surfer episode "Learning Curve Part 1".
  • The Richard Rider incarnation of Nova appears in The Super Hero Squad Show episode "So Pretty When They Explode", voiced by Jason Marsden.

Video games

  • The Richard Rider Nova's voice was featured in an audio log for the New Warriors in Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2, voiced by Robert Tinkler.
  • The Richard Rider incarnation of Nova appears as a playable character in the Marvel Super Hero Squad: The Infinity Gauntlet video game, voiced by Jason Marsden.
  • The Richard Rider incarnation of Nova appears as a playable character in the crossover fighting game Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, voiced by Troy Baker. The version of the Nova costume as worn by Sam Alexander in the Ultimate Spider-Man TV series is available as an alternate costume, as well as Richard's Quasar and Kid Nova costumes.
  • The Richard Rider incarnation of Nova is a playable character in Marvel Super Hero Squad Online.
  • The Richard Rider incarnation of Nova will appear as an enhanced alternate costume for Nova (Sam Alexander) in Marvel Heroes. He is also referenced in the item descriptions for Xanaderian Artifacts.
  • The Richard Rider incarnation of Nova appears in Lego Marvel Super Heroes, voiced by Will Friedle.


  • Nova received 2 different 6 inch figures in his original costume. One is located in the Holocaust series of Marvel Legends released in 2009. It was a Walmart exclusive. The other is from the Toy Biz Silver Surfer Series 3 figures from 1998 as a general release.
  • Nova was represented in his Nova Prime costume by Eaglemoss in the Classic Marvel Figurine Collection magazine. The 9.4 cm lead figure was released as number 54 in the series.
  • In 2012, Nova was included in the Marvel Universe 3 3/4" figure line in his Nova Prime costume.
  • Nova Prime was a playable character in the Galactic Guardians set of Marvel Heroclix.
  • Nova is included in Lego set 76005: Spider-Man: Daily Bugle Showdown, released in 2013. This set also includes Lego versions of Spider-Man, Doctor Doom, Beetle and J. Jonah Jameson.
  • A 6" Nova Prime figure was announced at NY Toy Fair 2014 by Hasbro as part of the Guardians of the Galaxy movie toy line.

Collected editions

Trade paperbacks include:



External links