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Nova No. 8

Published by Marvel Comics. Plot and script by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning. Pencils by Wellington Alves. Inks by Scott Hanna.

The Deal: Here's how the folks at Marvel describe Nova: "The Centurions of the Nova Corps were the protectors of peace and order in the galaxy. The Annihilation War destroyed them -- all except for one. Young Earthman Richard Rider, imbued with the super-intelligent Worldmind computer and the combined power of the corps is ... Nova." Uh huh. Old-school comic readers may know Nova as that second-rate "human rocket" who starred in his own book back in the day. And folks who read comics in the 1990s probably know him as the second-rate "human rocket" who was featured as a member of the New Warriors. At any rate, he's got his own book once again and this particular issue crosses over with the follow-up to Marvel's Annihilation War.

The Good: Well ... the cover's pretty.

The Bad: OK, let me be honest: This comic doesn't suck. The story is not unreadable and the art is not hideous. At the same time, the art and story are just decent. Alves design work and storytelling skills are passable. Abnett and Lanning's script moves along at a mildly entertaining pace and features occasional punches of cute dialogue. So, you see, it's ... decent. But in a time when comic shop shelves are crammed with a bunch of fairly expensive books, is decent really good enough? I think not. The only reason anyone might buy this book is because they love Nova. And, really, does Nova have enough of a fan base to support a monthly ongoing series? I think not. For a book like this to work, both the art and the story have to be from the over-the-top, insanely stylized, risk-taking school of comic creation.

The Verdict: Nova's decent, but save your money. Buy All-Star Batman and Robin instead. Seriously. At the very least, ASBR will give you a good laugh.

Thor No. 4

Published by Marvel Comics. Plot and script by J. Michael Straczynski. Pencils by Olivier Coipel. Inks by Mark Morales.

The Deal: Presenting the fourth edition of Thor's latest series. As you may know, Thor was dead, but now he's alive. And Asgard's in Oklahoma. And Thor is searching for all the missing Asgardians, who seem to be hidden in human forms around the world.

The Good: Both the art and the writing are top-notch in this book. Coipel is a master at everything he does: design, storytelling, illustration, lighting, "camera" angles, perspective, backgrounds. Everything. Who'da thought this guy would bring so much gravity to a book like this? Straczynski still has me hooked on the unfolding mystery of the missing Asgardians. I also like the slight revisions he's made to Thor -- like killing the crazy Shakespearian dialogue from the old Marvel days and reviving Donald Blake.

The Bad: This issue's story tries to be relevant and talk about ripped-from-the-headlines issues, but it comes off really heavy-handed and preachy. And as much as I'm digging Thor's search for Asgardians, I can see myself getting tired of things in a few issues. The book appears to only be about Thor's search. As a reader, I could stand a subplot or two ... just to keep things interesting.

The Verdict: I'm still digging this book. This issue was a little preachy, but the art is amazing and the story arc is engrossing. I'll be sticking around to see how things conclude.

Reviewed materials furnished by Heroes Aren't Hard To Find: www.heroesonline.com.

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