Nova’s 1970s adventures come to an end with this third bulky collection containing more issues of Fantastic Four than Nova. At the time that was reason to be grateful. When Nova’s comic was cancelled after just over two years, Marv Wolfman was also writing FF, and because Nova’s plots hadn’t been completed he finished them there. However, the cost of that is Nova himself becoming increasingly redundant.

The final issues of his own series start with a clean break from the content of Nova Classic Vol. 2, where almost all plots were resolved other than that of Richard Rider’s father, tricked into criminal activity and now scheduled for state’s evidence. However, these aren’t prime material. The returning villains are too arch, plots depend on some people behaving utterly stupidly, coincidence is a big factor, and although intended as tongue in cheek, Rider family genius Robbie’s creation of a robotic Sherlock Holmes no longer has any charm to it. Most chapters are drawn by Carmine Infantino (sample spread left) and his people now look very posed.

Nova’s content segues into the Fantastic Four’s problems when he and much of his super powered supporting cast head into space. This is under the guidance of enjoyably overbearing villain the Sphinx, whose dealings with Nova were seen in Nova Classic Vol. 1, and the with the FF in Nova Classic Vol. 2. It begins the transition into what Nova’s later solo incarnations would be, an Earthman tied into the culture of an alien race and spending much of his time in space. He and his allies are present in the earliest Fantastic Four chapters, but discarded in favour of the headliners thereafter. Admittedly it’s supposed to be a Nova collection, but the Fantastic Four story in which he plays no part is far better than any of his solo content. Wolfman with artists Keith Pollard, then John Byrne (sample spread right) sets up a space epic, with a threat so big it requires the FF to engage the help of planet devouring Galactus to sort things out. It’s a constantly escalating terror with the additional urgency of the Fantastic Four having their own deadline because they’re ageing rapidly. Ignore that it features in a Nova collection where Nova only features in the background of a single panel over the final third of the book, and it’s a decent story that holds up well.

The Nova solo stories are also available in black and white in Essential Nova, while the Fantastic Four content is also found presented with no gaps, so concluding Johnny Storm’s college career, as In Search of Galactus.