As a comic book reader who never took the plunge into Marvel's cosmic line in the past, the character Nova is still relatively new to me. I have a basic understanding of the mythos: there's a Nova Corps not dissimilar from DC's Green Lantern Corps, there are multiple character's who have gone by the title Nova, and Richard Rider is by and far the most popular of those characters. Other than that, it's all Greek to me, as they say.
From this starting point, Jeph Loeb and Ed McGuinness' Nova #1 is a blast. Loeb's balance of space action and rural American life is stark as it is believable in a world where a giant green man can demolish mountains and gods live in Oklahoma. And McGuinness' classic art style shines throughout these pages, juxtaposing Sam Alexander's mundane existence in Carefree, Arizona against his father's stories of weird space adventures with the Black Novas that may or may not be true.
The negativity I've seen toward this series seems rooted mainly in one thing: fandom. Richard Rider is considered the best Nova in Marvel's history, and he's been shelved for a new take on a classic franchise and that irks people. Another point of contention has been Jeph Loeb's explanation that this new, teenaged Nova is based on his own late son; part homage and part inspiration for the stubbornly loyal yet loving Sam Alexander. The complaint is that Loeb should process his grief elsewhere and let Richard Rider be Nova once again. The simple response to that is: us readers don't get to decide how writers are influenced or inspired.
Instead of pining for the old, why not try and embrace the new? Loeb has introduced a whole new, secret branch of the Nova Corps! That should be an exciting prospect for anyone interested in Marvel's cosmic line because it means new stories and new ideas.