Chapter XI: Pawn Takes Knight
Writer: Gerry Duggan
Penciler: Paco Medina
Inker: Juan Vlasco
Chapter XI: Pawn Takes Knight resumes from the results of last issue with Sam having been stricken 'blind' as he re-entered the earth's atmosphere after a rescue effort in space. The majority of the issue is mostly just a filler story, dealing more with Sam's civilian life than his Nova exploits.
That being said, we do get far more time with his supporting cast, fleshing out the relationships, and even possibly introducing a new cast member with Sam's 'encouraged' membership in the chess club. Amusingly enough, it's taken the change in writers from Jeph Loeb to Duggan to have Sam's writing and persona feel more like the Sam Alexander in the Loeb-influenced Ultimate Spider-Man cartoon.
Despite my love of Medina's space visuals, and Sam's in-costume appearance, I do believe there's something to be said for the style he draws their civilian faces. There's just something about the aesthetic that doesn't quite appeal, especially the doctor, who's nose looks as if he's been in one bar fight too many. At the same time, it is a signature style, and he does well at showcasing differences in ethnicity from character to character. The art and writing team also showcases a good grasp on how schoolchildren act and carry themselves, as is evidenced by the body language and expressions at times of the background kids as well as the main cast.
The end half of the issue is back into space, and setting the stage for an all-new Nova nemesis, and deepening the mystery of what has happened to all other non-Annihilation Wave destroyed Novas. With New Warriors around the corner, things are heating up for the title with a nice standalone issue in this age of massive inter-connected story arcs and event comics. Compared to other series, Nova's a great jumping on book for newer readers, as you're given a pretty thorough crash course in Cosmic Marvel without it being overwhelming to new readers.
Rating: Worthwhile, especially if it's in a TPB as it's dependant on previous events in the series.