Richard “Rich” Rider a.k.a. Nova blasts through the air. A look of shock falls upon his face as he comes to a halt, mid-air. You want to think there are some things you can always count on - Spider-Man on the front page of the Bugle, Reed Richards heading up the Fantastic Four, not one person ever yelling “Look, up in the sky, it’s…the man called Nova”, and, of course Doctor Strange’s house on Bleecker Street. But things just aren’t what they used to be, are they. Nova drops down towards the ruins of Doctor Strange’s home, and thinks that it looks like a battlefield - the loser’s side of it, at that. He wonders what in the world could possibly do a number like this on Doc, before supposing that it was probably nothing to do with this world.
Searching through the rubble, Nova hopes that he doesn’t stumble across Dr Strange’s body. He doesn’t - but he gets the next best thing - ‘Why have you come here, boy?’ Dr Strange’s astral projection calls out as he rises from the rubble. ‘CRIPES! Don’t do that!’ Nova exclaims. Dr Strange tells Nova that obviously neither he nor his abode is in any condition to receive visitors, and tells Nova to depart. ‘Doc? That is you, right…?’ Nova calls out, before asking what happened here. ‘you’re not, um, dead or anything…are you?’ the young hero enquires. ‘I mean, don’t take this wrong, but you do kinda look like a ghost. If I can do anything -’ Nova begins, to which Strange informs him that this is his astral form. ‘More than that is…of no concern to you’ Strange declares.
Strange suggests to Nova that if he has other business here, then state it, otherwise he should leave. ‘Well, to tell you the truth, I came looking for some help. But you’ve got problems of your own, so -’ Nova begins, but Strange tells him to continue. Nova informs Strange that this is something he just happened into, and that what he has to say is all he knows. ‘I’d guess you’re familiar with Quasar…’ Nova begins.
Shown with flashback illustrations, narrated by Nova:
‘…Quantum bands? Funny cape? Yeah, him’ Nova remarks, informing Dr Strange that Quasar’s girlfriend, Kayla Ballantine, has this thing called the Starbrand. Nova isn’t sure what the Starbrand really is, but he knows it is powerful. He tells Strange that Quasar noticed some disturbance on the moon and heads off to check it out, averting a tragedy with a little help from the likes of Binary, Black Bolt, Darkstar and others, only to learn that the whole thing was a distraction to separate Quasar from Kayla, as space gods called the Starblasters were looking to get their hands on Kayla and the Starbrand, so, Nova went to her rescue, which didn’t work out too well, as the Starblasters escaped with Kayla. So, Quasar rounded up some of the heroes who assisted him on the moon, and went off after them.
Nova tells Dr Strange that he is left holding the fort, but the Starblasters left behind a little “present”, probably hoping to slow down Quasar. ‘Now I’ve got to deal with it’ Nova points out. He remarks that his teammates, the New Warriors, are not around, and that this thing the Starblasters left is causing some serious destruction. ‘Any…well…I can’t catch it. It’s too fast’ Nova explains. ‘I see. Very well, then. Continue to track this…present…as best you can. When I’m able…I’ll send you help’ Dr Strange tells the young hero.
Nova departs, going after the thing that was left by the Starblasters, but he is not any better off than he was before, as it rips up the landscape as it tears across the land, with Nova unable to get close enough to lay a hand on this “present’. Suddenly, something speeds past Nova, like a dodge dart on the autobahn. ‘Geez!’ Nova exclaims, wondering whether he now has two things to deal with. But as he finally catches up to the “present” he has been chasing, and the person who sped past him, he realizes that it is nice to be wrong once in a while, ‘NORTHSTAR?’ Nova exclaims as he sees Jean-Paul Beaubier of Alpha Flight battling the hideous alien.
Distracted by Nova, Jean-Paul looks away from the alien, which gives the alien time grab Northstar and hurl him at Nova, knocking both men to the woodland below. ‘You’re it? You’re my help?’ Nova enquires. ‘Merci for the gratitude. Do you insult everyone who comes to your aid, or just Canadian mutants?’ Northstar replies. ’Well, no, it’s jus…I was expecting, you know…someone’ Nova explains. Jean-Paul frowns and mutters ’Oh, fine. How typically American. Because I didn’t come swinging in on a web or riding a flaming motorcycle I must be fairly useless, is that it?’, before calling Nova a self-important fool, and pointing out that if he hadn’t interrupted, he would have taken the robot apart by now. ‘Have you any idea what -’ Northstar begins, before Nova asks him to shut up.
‘You gonna help me, or not?’ Rich asks Jean-Paul, who helps Nova to his feet. ‘Well...I’m here already, aren’t I?’ Northstar mutters, suggesting that Nova should follow him while he runs their quarry to ground. ‘I don’t have that kind of speed. What are you gonna do, ride me piggyback?’ Nova asks. ‘In a manner of speaking’ Northstar tells him, adding that he does have that kind of speed, and tells Nova to simply stay in his slipstream and he will be drawn along behind him. ‘So you can watch while I catch it’ Northstar adds as he speeds away, with Nova following, riding the slipstream.
‘Oh, man…tell me I’m not seeing this. I’ve gotta stop that thing and save a national landmark? Well, isn’t this a full day!’ Nova mutters as they speed towards the Starblasters’ robot, in an attempt to distract it from its attack on the US Capitol Building. Nova darts past the robot, deciding that it is just a robot, with alien technology, sure, but still a robot, which should be no big deal for a guy with a Xanadar Corps suit and a large ego. He spins around and flies back towards the robot, ‘It really sounded good on paper’ Nova thinks to himself as the robot swats him away, sending him crashing to the ground. Looking up to the top of the building, Richard tells himself that it is not like Northstar is setting the world on fire, either, as the robot slams the speedster about.
‘Least he’s indebted to me, now. Maybe I can talk him out of a couple of hocket tickets or something’ Nova thinks to himself as he speeds to Northstar’s rescue, pulling him to safety as the robot prepares to slam his fists down again. But as Nova discovers, simply owing his life to him does not change Northstar’s attitude, as Jean-Paul suggests to Nova that next time he will surprise him with a plan of action that actually proves useful. ‘Sure. How’s this grab you - next time I let you get squashed while I make a tactical retreat’ Nova suggests. ‘Either that or we just keep hammering it’ he adds as they both fly towards the robot. ‘Oh, simply brilliant’ Northstar mutters.
‘I dented it! I think. Maybe’ Nova mutters as he slams his fists against the robot, only to be knocked backwards. As Northstar flies down from above, the robot releases a burst of energy, sending the Canadian mutant careening backwards. Nova declares that this isn’t working, not even a little, for whatever that thing is made of, they don’t have the power to tackle it. ‘Oui. I noticed’ Northstar replies, when suddenly, some mist appears around them. ‘Um…were you expecting any creepy mist about now?’ Jean-Paul enquires. ‘Non…’ Nova tells him. As the mist disperses, the Hulk is revealed, ‘Somebody call for a doctor? Or maybe two of them?’ the green behemoth calls out, while the astral projection of Dr Strange hovers alongside him.
‘The Hulk!’ Nova exclaims. ‘It’s Bruce’ the Hulk replies, before deciding ‘On second thought, that’s Doctor Banner to you two. As in, “Doctor Banner, and who had better things to do today”!’ Banner declares, before telling Nova not to let it worry him. ‘Do I look like a guy who holds a grudge?’ he asks. When he gets no response, Banner scratches his head and asks ‘So…where’s it at?’, to which Northstar and Nova both smile, and motion backwards. ‘Stay put’ Banner tells them as he walks past them., and taps the robot on the shoulder. The robot spins around to face the Hulk, who, in dramatic fashion, grabs the robot by the neck, and tears its head off, before slamming the body into scrap metal, with little difficulty.
‘That was tough, wasn’t it’ Banner remarks, before looking around and seeing that Strange’s astral form has gone, asks ‘Steve gone already?’, to which Northstar replies that “evaporated” is a better description. Banner mutters that he now has to walk home, to which Nova suggests that they could carry him. ‘Mr Spock and a guy with a bucket on his head? Yeah, Right’ Banner smirks as he walks away. Nova tells himself that it is like he said, you want to think there are some things you can always count on - and some things like seven-foot green guys having surly dispositions and being particularly useful in a fight, you still can.’
Meantime, the alien known as Geator floats through space, when suddenly a brilliant light engulfs him, and he is drawn towards someone, who reaches out for him, offering him salvation. This other being grins wickedly, before he frowns, and tells Geator that from now one, his life belongs to him - Thanos of Titan!