Nova (Richard Rider) (Marvel Comics) (Classic era) by Rick Leonardi in the OHOTMU


(Richard Rider) (Classic era)

Power Level:
Game system: DC Heroes Role-Playing Game


Nova was originally created in 1967 (as Black Nova) by Marv Wolfman in a fanzine.

He was re-created when he made his Marvel debut in 1976, in his own Wolfman-written book. But he remained a Silver Age  character at heart during his original run, especially with the four-colour  character to Wolfman’s writing before his Titans run.

At this point Nova has a bright-coloured Silver Age costume, is part of a corps of space cops not unlike the Green Lanterns, is firmly in the mould of the everyman angsty teen à la Peter Parker, and fights improbable if colourful themed villains.

This profile for Nova (Richard Rider) covers said original run – 1976 to 1979. In later decades, Rider will adapt to changing times in unexpected and sometimes successful ways.



  • Real Name: Richard Rider.
  • Other Aliases: Nova-Prime of Xandar.
  • Marital Status: Single.
  • Known Relatives: Charles (father), Gloria (mother), Robert (brother), Dr. Ralph Rider (uncle, deceased).
  • Group Affiliation: Champions of Xandar.
  • Base Of Operations: Long Island, NY.
  • Height: 5’9” Weight: 145 lbs. Age: 17 as the series begins.
  • Eyes: Brown Hair: Light brown.

Powers and Abilities

Nova has pretty high levels of superhuman strength and durability (although he’s not a major brick ). He is able to deflect high calibre bullets and small explosives without damage.

He can fly at great speeds, in excess of the speed of sound (770 miles per hour), by travelling along electron paths. He is also capable of intergalactic travel, having the ability to open a space warp for himself when travelling along an electron path, allowing him to travel over a hundred million light years in less than quarter of an hour. He can also use his speed to both vibrate and propel himself, enabling him to tunnel underground.


His uniform includes a transparent plate that slides down from his helmet whenever he’s exposed to water, vacuum, and so forth. This provides him with an independent oxygen recycling system, which can supply 15 minutes of air.

It also allows him to receive most forms of radio waves, protects him from extremes of temperature, and the lenses allow him to see in darkness, and provide a degree of protection from bright lights.

Curiously, Nova can just about lift a car – whereas the strength he demonstrates in other applications such as fighting or breaking stuff seems to be in the “Class 50” range. The game stats in this article assume a penalty when lifting things.


Richard Rider was an ordinary adolescent living in Long Island, NY – until the galactic menace Zorr came to Earth. Zorr, whose homeworld had been ravaged by Galactus, was looking for the energy of other worlds to replenish those of his demolished planet. One of the worlds he first attacked, and pretty much destroyed, was Xandar.

Xandar was protected by a corps of superhuman law enforcers and soldiers, the Nova Corps, commanded by centurion Nova Prime. Even those forces proved unable to stop Zorr, and Nova Prime was fatally wounded. Zorr left to ravage another world to save his own, but the dying Nova-Prime chased him all the way to Earth.

Cloaking his ship and parking it in orbit, the centurion sent his powers to an Earthling so another attempt could be made to stop Zorr. The energy plunged Rider into a days-long coma. During this time his body was restructured and Nova-Prime telepathically briefed him.

Nova-Prime’s revenge

However, Rider decided that it had been a dream and forgot about the information. This notion was soon proved wrong, when the teenager discovered that he could turn into a powerful Nova centurion, complete with uniform.

Richards’ first battled to confront Zorr as he started rampaging on Earth. This gave Nova-Prime the opportunity he had been waiting. The lawman teleported Zorr to his ship and expanded the last of his life force to kill him.

Back on Earth, Rider was left puzzled as to where his overwhelming opponent had disappeared. He would learn the truth but months later.

The human rocket

Richard continued to explore his power as Nova. He went out on patrols, looking for crime to fight. He soon encounters the Condor and his reluctant servant, Powerhouse, when they try to rob a museum. After a tough battle, Nova captures Powerhouse, although the Condor, angry at his servant, had already fled the scene.

Nova (Richard Rider) (Marvel Comics) (Classic era) earliest flight above the city

Nova later came across the would-be-crimelord Diamondhead, fleeing the scene of a robbery. Their battle ended with Nova believing that Diamondhead had been destroyed.

Rider’s first encounter with another superhero was with Thor. However, Thor was under the influence of the Corruptor at the time. He attacked Nova when they met and Rider tried to introduce himself. Thankfully the Corruptor’s hold over Thor broke and the two heroes teamed up, tracked him down and caught him.

Red glare

After preventing Tyrannus from burying New York, Nova again crosses paths with the Condor. The villain has teamed up with Diamondhead, as they rescue Powerhouse from police custody. They manage to subdue Nova. They take him back to the Condor’s Aerie, where the Condor learns the source of Nova’s powers, and that a space ship from the advanced civilization that provided the powers is in orbit near Earth.

Condor uses his technology to temporarily brainwash Nova into stealing components he needs to create a craft capable of reaching the Xandarian ship.

With this accomplished, the four travel to the Xandarian ship, where Condor searches for weapons they can use against the Sphinx. Nova overcomes the effects of the brainwashing, but the Condor, having got what he wanted from Nova, decides not to repeat the process.

The three villains escape before Nova can fully recover, leaving him on the Xandarian ship, which they set on a course back to Xandar.

From Xandar to Megaman

Nova makes contact with the computer intelligence controlling the ship, which tells him some of the history of the source of his powers, and returns the ship to Earth orbit.

Nova (Richard Rider) (Marvel Comics) (Classic era) flying big city pink sky

Before sending Nova back to Earth, it also shows him images of scenes occurring on Earth. One of the trio of villains who had abandoned him, assaulting one of the Sphinx’s bases, and another, of one of Richard Rider’s friends, who had been missing for a few days, chained to underground pipes, with rising water levels threatening to drown him.

As Nova races back to Earth, he arrives just in time to save Roger’s life. He soon learns that Roger was kidnapped by his uncle, who, disappearing after an accident he blamed Roger for, had recently returned as the monstrous Megaman. Megaman again sought Roger, later that night, and Roger fled, ending up at Richard’s house seeking help.

Megaman caught up with him there, and Nova again fought him, but was forced to let him take Roger, when Megaman set fire to the Rider’s house, while Richard’s parents and brother were inside.

When Nova eventually caught up to Megaman, he and Roger had made peace, but Megaman had lost his temper upon seeing his “widow” with another man. They battled again, but it was interrupted when the entity which had altered Megaman arrived and took him back to the future.

Peril of the Sphinx!

After foiling the Firefly’s arson campaign, Nova again encountered Condor, Diamondhead and Powerhouse. They were attacking one of the Sphinx’s secret bases. The Condor caught Nova in a shrinking force bubble, and by the time Rider had freed himself, Diamondhead had been buried in a mountainside. Nova returned to the battle, going up against Powerhouse, who overwhelmed him.

The Sphinx, who had just turned the Condor into a mindless, real, condor, arrived just as Nova fell. He subdued Powerhouse, taking them both captive. Scanning his mind, he learned of the Xandarian space craft, and the advanced computer intelligence within, deciding that it would be necessary for his goals.

He wiped Richard’s memory of being Nova, and returned him to his life. But Nova’s mind was too strong, and he soon shook off the effects, forcing the Sphinx to confront him again. Despite the one-sided battle which ensued, Nova’s unwillingness to give up impressed the Sphinx enough that he decided to let Nova live, teleporting away to continue his quest.

He fights crime !

His time as Nova had affected Richard’s academic studies. He was sent to get extra tuition from his uncle, Dr. Ralph Rider, a highly respected scientist. He arrived, however, to find his uncle dead at the hands of a costumed criminal known as Photon, and the police trying to discover which of the guests was Photon.

Nova (Richard Rider) (Marvel Comics) (Classic era) by Validar and Sinnott

Investigating the crime as Nova, Richard had an initial misunderstanding with Spider-Man. As Peter Parker, Spidey had been studying in Dr. Rider’s library. But then the two teamed up to try and find the real killer. It was discovered that the other guests were a shady businessman, an agent of AIM, and a member of the Maggia, who were all trying to get the doctor to sell his latest creation.

After another murder, a chase after the three suspects, and a clash with some AIM agents, the pair discovered that the Maggia member, Jason Dean, was actually Photon. He managed to overcome the both of them, and the pair were chained to a huge anchor and dropped in the ocean. They escaped, and returned to Dr. Rider’s house where they again confronted Photon, this time capturing him.

Crimebuster and Sandman

Preventing a bank robbery by the Sandman, Nova met Crimebuster. Crimebuster was making his first public appearance, although he had operated in secret for a while.

Nova again came into conflict with the Sandman when he interfered in the villains attempt to kidnap the Wakandan scientist, Doctor T’Kora. The Sandman won, and both Nova and the doctor were taken captive by the Sandman and his mysterious master. Managing to escape from the death-trap they left him in, Nova again came into conflict with the Sandman when he tried to kidnap a classmate of Richard Rider.

This time Nova managed to capture the Sandman in a cement mixer, imprisoning him as concrete.

Working for the Man

Not long afterwards, Nova was recruited by Nick Fury, Director of SHIELD, who needed help acting against the Sandman’s master, the Yellow Claw. The Claw, aware that they were after him, sent a swarm of agents to attack them. The pair were taken as captives to the Claw’s underwater base, where they were fastened onto a neutron warhead which is fired at a government spy satellite.

Before it can strike its target, the missile is taken over by Doctor Sun, who redirects it towards Washington. Nova manages to divert its flight path, crashing it into the Potomac. Fury manages to track down the Claw’s base, and the two of them successfully infiltrate it, freeing the captive scientists.

When the Claw launches a tidal wave against New York, Fury races back there to lead SHIELD in battling it, while Nova tracks down and battles the Yellow Claw. Overcoming the Claws mental attacks, Nova had the villain on the ropes, but the Claw used a quick illusion to grant him the seconds needed to escape.

While on patrol, Nova was attacked by Blackout, whose paranoia made him believe the superhero had been searching for him. Leaving Nova encase in a dense syrupy darkforce construct, Blackout flees. Nova frees himself, but is unable to locate Blackout.

Later that day, Nova investigates unnatural storms lashing the area, and discovers that they have been caused by Blackout. The two fight again, and the battle destroys the stabilizer which controls Blackout’s powers. Without it Blackout fades from view, his atoms changing into light waves.

Day of the Monitors, part 1

When a silent giant appears in Manhattan, Nova, unable to affect it, goes in search of help. With the Avengers out of town, Nova tries to get help from the Fantastic Four. The Thing, the only member at home joins him, and they attack the giant.

They are soon approached by Milandra, a 10 foot tall woman. She claims to have been a prisoner and power-source of the giant alien Monitor, having just woken from captivity. Milandra also tells them that there are another two Monitors also arrived on Earth, each with one of her sisters as captive.

She reveals that the Monitors travelling from planet to planet, judging their worthiness to continue existing, and destroying them when they inevitably fail. They accompany her in trying to free her sisters, but their attempt is discovered by one of the Monitors. The alien teleports Nova to a distant galaxy, over a hundred million light-years from Earth, in orbit around a star going supernova.

Day of the Monitors, part 2

Flying away from the exploding star as fast as he can, Nova manages to latch onto the electrons shooting from the nova, allowing him to travel at even greater speeds. He goes fast enough to project himself through a space warp, allowing him to reach Earth before his 15 minutes air supply is used up.

Nova and the Thing continue to battle the Monitors, alongside the freed sisters, who are revealed to be the evolved consciousnesses of the Monitors ships.

Two of the Monitors are destroyed, and the third, who had secretly released Milandra in the first place, having grown tired of destruction, agrees to return with the sisters to his homeworld. He wants to try and convince his people to cease their ’monitoring‘ activities.

Father issues

For a while, Richard’s father had problems, getting fired from his job as a headmaster, which resulted in money problems, leaving him indebted to the criminal Inner Circle. He gets arrested carrying out a task for them, but makes a deal to tell the authorities everything in exchange for immunity. He stupidly goes to the Inner Circle to tell them he has turned against them, and is taken prisoner.

Upon learning what his father has done, Nova desperately searches for him. He finally tracks down the Inner Circle’s secret base, where his mind-controlled father is injured after trying to shoot Nova. Nova discovers that the Inner Circle is controlled by the Corruptor, now more in control of himself than their previous encounter.

The Corruptor flees, and Nova gets his father to safety. With his father recovered, and his family closer together, Nova reveals his dual identity to them.

Responding to a robbery, Nova is ambushed by Diamondhead, who leaves him buried under a collapsed wall, believing him dead. Nova frees himself, and attacks Diamondhead, only to be beaten again.

Rider is left trapped and unconscious again, until freed by the Comet. The Comet is an old super hero from the ’50s, who had just returned to duty. The pair track down Diamondhead’s base and attack him, but Diamondhead is again victorious, and Nova is left unconscious.

The Devil Doctor

When he wakes, he discovers himself captive of Doctor Sun. His attempt to escape is fruitless, and Sun soon teleports them both to the Xandarian spaceship. There, they are confronted by the Sphinx. The Sphinx easily resists their attacks, and announces that he will be using the ship to travel back to its home galaxy.

The Sphinx manages to gain control of Nova, and sends the reluctant hero to Earth to locate the amnesiac Powerhouse. Nova easily finds him, and his appearance restores Powerhouse’s memory of his time on Earth, leading him to attack Nova. Nova manages to subdue him, just as Comet and Crimebuster arrive, having been searching for the missing Nova.

They are caught in the beam the Sphinx sends to collect Nova and Powerhouse. The four of them are thus transported to the Xandarian ship, along with Diamondhead who had stowed away on board Crimebuster’s Crime Pod. When Powerhouse recovers consciousness, seeing the ship restores the rest of his memories, before he arrived on Earth, and he remembers that he was a Xandarian.

The Sphinx forces his reluctant crew to accompany him on the journey to Xandar.

War against the Skrulls

They reach Xandar, discovering that, following Zorr’s attack, it still survived as four artificial planetoids. They arrive during a Skrull invasion, and the Sphinx takes advantage of the situation to extract the information he requires from the Xandarian computers. Becoming empowered by this, he leaves, abandoning the others, who aid the Xandarian defence.

Nova, Comet, Crimebuster, Diamondhead and Powerhouse spent several months helping fight the Skrulls, earning the name Champions of Xandar.

Diamondhead, Crimebuster and the Comet accompany the Nova Corps on a foray against the Skrulls. Their mile-long Nova ship appears to returns to Xandar, but it is actually crewed by Skrulls. Once through Xandarian defences, they shapechange back and attack. Nova, Powerhouse and Rom help the Xandarian civilians resist the invasion, and Nova attacks the ship directly, breaching the hull.

He fights and expels Diamondhead, who has allied with the Skrulls, letting them board the ship. Crimebuster discovered this and was killed by Skrull soldiers in front of the Comet. Immediately, the Comet and all the Nova Corps were banished to another dimension by Diamondhead, using on-board lifesaving equipment.

The bloodthirsty Skrulls disliked this and blamed Diamondhead for preventing them from killing their enemies. Still, the alliance held.

After Nova gains control of his ship, he summons back the Chanpions and the Nova Corps. The Xandarian forces win, and the surviving Skrulls are arrested. Diamondhead is left drifting in space.

Nova… no more !

Having been absent from Earth for almost a year, Nova was getting homesick. Since all of the nova-force was required to bolster Xandar’s defences, Nova was told that he would have to forfeit his powers if he left.

He reluctantly agreed, and was teleported back to Earth, powerless.


See illustrations.


Rider was originally a loser high school student. While bright he felt that he excelled at nothing, either in class or outside of it. Rider was prone to whining about it in typical teenager fashion (and constantly cursing his “bad luck” despite a certain lack of evidence for it).

He was likewise uncertain of himself in his role as superhero, although he made more of an effort to hide it while in costume.

However, as his career progressed, he became more confident as his successes continued, and this also began to affect his Richard Rider persona.


“Y‘know, flying like this gives a guy the confidence he needs to feel like he can say or do anything… which means it gives me the confidence to think I’m almost as good as everyone else. Instead of just being Richard Rider, boy nothing !”

“Sorry, frog-face ! You’ll have to aim better next time… or you’ll never make it as the next catfish hunter !”

“Blue blazes !” (His favourite exclamation by far)

“I sure hope you’re talking about me, sweetums. I’d like to think our battle yesterday gave you something more than the terminal tee-hee’s !”

“Thanks for the rebound shot, Thor. I owe this creep for underrating me… calling me a mere kid ! Heck ! I’ve been paying the adult prices at the movies for years now !”

Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG

Tell me more about the game stats

Nova (Classic era)

Dex: 05 Str: 11 Bod: 09 Motivation: Uphold Good
Int: 04 Wil: 05 Min: 04 Occupation: High-school student
Inf: 05 Aur: 03 Spi: 05 Resources {or Wealth}: 002
Init: 014 HP: 050

Digging: 05, Flight: 09, Flight (Intergalactic): 84, Skin Armour: 03

Bonuses and Limitations:

  • Digging is Contingent Upon Flight (-1).
  • Flight (Intergalactic) only works when outside of a planetary atmosphere (-2).

None demonstrated.

Misc.: Lightning calculator (Rider can instantly perform complex mathematical calculations in his head – consider he has a scientific calculator built-in.).

Comet (Low), Crimebuster (High), Nick Fury (Low), Spider-Man (Low), Thing (Low), Thor (Low).

Age (Young), Secret ID, Misc.: Low lifting capacity (For the purpose of lifting objects, Nova is considered to have 06 APs of STR).

SUIT [BODY 12, Cold Immunity: 02, Flame Immunity: 02, Radio Communications (Receive only): 08, Sealed Systems: 08, Shade: 02, Ultra Vision: 06, Note: Sealed systems is usually insufficient against sudden exposure to gas, but not against liquids and vacuum].

By Sébastien Andrivet and Gareth Lewis.

Source of Character: Nova volume I.

Helper(s): civanfan, Kal El el Vigilante.