February 27, 2024

Gabbing Geek

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Slightly Misplaced Comic Book Characters Case File #440: Nova (The Other One)

Marvel has this character named Nova. No, not that one.

So, Galactus had this herald named Nova.  Yes, Marvel has a lot of characters named Nova.  They’re all part of the Nova Corps.  But this is a different Nova, so much so that when Rich Ryder came out of superhero limbo, he temporarily went by the terrible name of “Kid Nova” to keep from confusing him with this Nova.

Her name was Frances “Frankie” Raye by the way.  I even remember an issue of Dr. Strange where this particular Nova came to see Stephen about something, causing the good doctor to explain to wife Clea that no, Nova wasn’t really a nude woman sitting on the couch.

Frankie, long before she took the Nova name, first appeared in Fantastic Four #164 in November of 1975.  Created by comic book legends Roy Thomas and George Perez, Frankie was a UN interpreter who met and started dating Johnny “Human Torch” Storm despite a fear of fire.

Now, you’d think a fear of fire would make dating the Human Torch a problem, and it did.  The two broke up not long into the relationship, and initial attempts at reconciliation didn’t work out too well.  But it turned out there was a reason for Frankie’s fear:  it was caused by a mental block set in place by her stepfather Professor Phineas Horton.  Horton invented the original android Human Torch, and an accident with some chemicals gave Frankie her own fire-based powers.  Because, you know, fire is dangerous.  Just ask known pyromaniac Jimmy Impossible.

But there’s not much of a story if Frankie never gets past that block and develops her superpowers.  As Nova, she’d help the FF a bit before becoming the Herald of Galactus, and one of her first acts in that role was to lead Galactus to the Skrull homeworld.  That means that Secret Invasion is entirely her fault.

From there, Frankie would spend time in a Skrull prison, take on those jerks the Elders of the Universe, befriend the Silver Surfer, and even have a romantic dalliance with Firelord.  Galactus would eventually become dissatisfied by Nova’s job performance, replacing her with the last guy he should have given the Power Cosmic to, Morg.  The Surfer would gather the other Heralds to fight Morg, and during the battle, Morg would kill Nova.

Is that the end of Frankie?  Well…yes and no.

See, Frankie was dead, but Nova?  Not so much.  The “Nova Entity” would return and discover Frankie lookalike Frances Hyatt.  Frances wasn’t Frankie.  She just looked a lot like her.  I think.  The Nova Entity, held by S.W.O.R.D., escaped and tried to merge with Frances, but couldn’t quite do so for some reason.  Was Frances a clone?  A separate woman?  Frankie reborn?  Oddly enough, her story doesn’t quite say.  The Nova Entity doesn’t seem to want to bond with her at first, but eventually does, and when it was over, Frances flew back to the diner she waited tables at, only to be recruited to help out from time to time.

So, this Nova is dead?  I’m not sure.

I do know actress Beau Garrett played a powerless version of Frankie in the live action Fantastic Four movie Rise of the Silver Surfer.

But that movie had Galactus as a giant cloud, so this might be a good place to stop.