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Nova: Protect or Perish

Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning prep the Nova Corps for a final War of Kings showdown with the Shi'Ar Imperial Guard

By Jim Beard

As the devastating War of Kings climbs towards its explosive finale the Nova Corps race towards destiny. On August 26, in NOVA #28, Richard Rider enters into combat with the imposing Shi'ar Imperial Guard for the highest of stakes: the life of his brother.

The Imperial Guard's long history stretches back years, encompassing encounters with some of the greatest denizens of the Marvel Universe, including the X-Men, the Inhumans, the Avengers, the Guardians of the Galaxy, and of course, the Nova Corps. Sworn to protect and defend the Shi'Ar Empire, its laws and its rulers, the original Guard membership swelled until it truly became legion. Led by the nigh-unbeatable Gladiator, the Guard swore allegiance to Empress Lilandra and counted among its ranks such diverse and powerful beings as Oracle, Flashfire, Mentor, Electron, Starbolt, Smasher, Warstar and Earthquake.

NOVA #28 preview art by Andrea Di Vito
The Guard's involvement in events of galactic importance borders on legendary. Perhaps most significant stands their presence at the trial of the first Phoenix and her battle to win her life, as seen in UNCANNY X-MEN #107. But the Guardsmen also participated in myriad missions the likes of Operation Galactic Storm, Starblast, Maximum Security, the threat of Cassandra Nova, and the rise of Emperor Vulcan and the subsequent War of Kings.

Gladiator's loyalty to Lilandra held fast through the Shi'Ar throne's seemingly eternal turmoil, a prime example being the temporary ascension of Deathbird to the lofty seat of power. The Guard also maintained its mandate in spite of heavy casualties in its numbers, with Smasher, Impulse, Neutron, Hobgoblin and Cosmo all falling in action. Despite all, the original Imperial Guard met its match in Vulcan, victor of the Shi'Ar civil war and now supreme Emperor of all he surveys. Gladiator, with his close ties to the deposed Lilandra, could no longer be trusted with so exalted a position as leader of the Shi'Ar ruler's personal protectors.

Individually dispatched to the four corners of the ever-growing Empire, the original Guard gave way to Vulcan's new enforcers, also known as the Praetorians. Led by Xenith, Strontian cousin of Gladiator, the team boasts an eclectic composition: a Symbiote, one of Venom's ilk; an Uncreated, hunter of the Starjammers; the Pn'zo, a strange android-like being; and a

NOVA #28 preview art by Andrea Di Vito
Hodinn, an Imperial Guardsman from before the Cassandra Nova emergency.

Now the War of Kings rages between the Shi'Ar and the Kree/Inhuman alliance. Vulcan's loyal Guard-in reality a ruthless band of thugs and killers bearing little resemblance to Gladiator's once-proud cadre-prowl the spaceways with death as their mission. Xenith the Strontian has massacred an entire phalanx of Nova Centurions and Robbie Rider, brother to Nova Prime Richard Rider, sought to hunt her down and bring her to cosmic justice. When we last left Richard at the shattering cliffhanger of NOVA #27, he'd finally tracked his sibling to a scene of horror: the Imperial Guard victorious and Robbie apparently their latest victim...

The final face-off between Nova Prime, his steadfast Centurions and Xenith and her alien atrocities plays out this August 26 as NOVA #28 brings full-circle a vicious cycle of death and destruction involving the Shi'ar and their allies.

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      I too am looking forward to seeing this arc end. It has been great, and a nice way to have Nova tied into what is going on with War of Kings.


      Its shaping up to be a good read, over the last few months the plot in Nova has been moving a bit slowly, But over the last two issues DnA have really picked up the pace, Im looking forward to a good end of story arc.