What If... Nova Had Not Given Up his Powers?

While What If? #36's first story took us back to the origins of the Marvel Universe, its second goes in a completely different direction, essentially being a justification for the events that spelled the end of Nova's career in the late 70s/early 80s, not long before this issue was published. Yes, let's justify why it was right to take a character's powers away when that character's story couldn't support his own series. In the pre-Internet days, how did they even know they ought to?

What If Vol.1 #36 (December 1982)
Based on: Rom #24
The true history: After the Skrull-Xandar war, Richard Rider is forced to give up his Nova powers if he ever wants to see Earth again because the Nova powers must stay to defend Xandar. He is beamed back home powerless and his parents are happy to see him.
Story type: Momentary difference
Watcher's mood: Coffin cramps
Altered history: Rider, convinced the Nova powers are the only thing that make him special, chooses not to give them up and stay on Xandar. He spends the next year walking the same old corridors and not seeing any action.
What DOES Xandar have to be protected from? One wonders. It's a good thing The Man Called Nova is already canceled, because a full year of just walking around is no one's idea of a good comic book (except JMS, of course, nyuck, nyuck). Or is it simply what happens to heroes in limbo? No title to star in, so no action. In any case, after a year, Nova's had it and he beams himself back to Earth. He doesn't get the reception he expected though.
You'd think that 1) they'd still be relieved and happy to see him and 2) that if Xandar has the technology to instantaneous shift a person 2 million light years, Nova would have been able to place a long-distance call. He doesn't have much time to explain because the Champions of Xandar are hot on his trail. They want the Nova powers back, but Rider's not moving.
Them's fighting words. It's the Marvel Universe after all, so the heroes have a huge fight. The Champions win when Nova realizes he destroyed his old neighborhood in the fight.
And besides, the Earth has other superheroes to defend it, his family says. Yes, and Xandar doesn't. Except, you know, the Champions of Xandar. And only once he's powerless does his family embrace him. So a year's gone by, but nothing's changed. Destiny, we call it. Cough.
Books canceled as a result: None. No books resurrected either.
These things happen: When the 90s were ushered in, Marvel decided it needed as many angsty youth superhero comics on the stands as possible, and so were born the New Warriors. Nova becomes a member because his powers were only DORMANT inside him (so what was the point of taking them away like they were a power ring, or something)? Since then, Nova's been an on-again, off-again player in the Marvel Universe, keeping the faith in both the New Warriors and three short-lived series of his own. He didn't give up after all.

Next week: What if the Thing Had Continued to Mutate?
My guess:


Anonymous said...

Nova destroying a neighbourhood due to colateral irresponsable damage remind me all that Civil War crap.

And the New Warriors were cool! If you want to attack teen angst in comics, there are abou 20000 9''s X titles for that!


Siskoid said...

And now, Avengers titles.

Shlomo Ben Hungstien said...

I used to have this What If? issue. I think it intrigued me at the time because i knew Richard Ryder (Dick Ryder?) had given up his powers in ROM 24. But i don't seem to recall that What if story making any sort of direct reference to ROM 24 in any hypothetical way.
speaking of which Siskoid. I made two new post entries recently to my blog. one of which also happens to be related to ROM 24 and the other has to do with something that made it past the Comics Code Authority in ROM 41 that i bet even you didn't know about.

Shlomo Ben Hungstien said...

off the topic for a moment Siskoid. what do they call a quarter pounder at McDonalds in Canada?

Siskoid said...

The same.

In French Canada, we call it a "Quart de livre".

We mix and match Imperial and Metric to taste.

Shlomo Ben Hungstien said...

oh i do enjoy these cultural exchanges once in a while in the midst of all this comic book sci-fi geekery chat. i posed the same question to Dan from the itsdansworld blog who is from New Zealand. his answer was the following:

Ha! As for a quarter pounder - we still have that here at McDonalds, even though we use a different kind o' measurement system. But we do have burgers that probably aren't up your way, like the Kiwiburger, and the Boss?

Shlomo Ben Hungstien said...

by the way, my latest blog post is about the ROM "zero issue". i really like that monkey at the type writer icon of yours it cracks me up.


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