It may be titled Secret Invasion, and it does cross over with that story, but before it occurs Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning have something else to consider. When they began controlling Nova’s destiny in Annihilation, they gave him a power upgrade, the problem with that being that when it comes to physical aggression Nova’s powers are of the point and fire variety. An upgrade made little substantial difference as far as readers are concerned. The way to display it is to pitch Nova against one of the real powerhouses of the Marvel universe, and in the opening three chapter story he’s faced with Silver Surfer. Cleverly, the writers also include a menace that all the point and fire in the universe isn’t really going to deal with, one that’s almost notional, transferring a malign intelligence from one person to another. As if all conflict taking place within the context of Galactus draining a planet’s energy to sustain his own wasn’t dramatic enough, there’s the further complication of Nova having to adjust to the society’s attitudes on the endangered planet.

There’s no doubt about what a talent Wellinton Alves has been on earlier stories, but something to cement it is the way he depicts Galactus. Too many artists present Galactus as a threat without ever establishing a sense of scale. A fifty foot Galactus may be imposing in human terms, but doesn’t suggest the cosmic powerhouse he’s intended to be. Alves really nails that. His Galactus is vast, and humans are the size of ants in comparison. Over the second story Geraldo Borges shares the art with Alves, and it’s good combination, generally breaking down to Alves handling the action sequences while Borges supplies the quieter moments in between (sample art).

So much is thrown into the three chapters of the Secret Invasion segment that it makes for an incredible rocket-paced read, one that’s accessible whether or not you know or care about Secret Invasion. More so than other titles, while seeing Nova back on Earth, it’s more directly about how events affect him and people he knows than building around the bigger picture. It concerns the shape-changing Skrull race infiltrating Earth, replacing influential people and attempting to take control, with a sophistication applied by this being prompted by religious ideology rather than the usual lust for power. The jihadist aspect was buried deep among the twists of the main series, but Abnett and Lanning address it directly, although in passing, before heading to other areas.

Another change the writers made to Nova was incorporating the Worldmind, the sum of all Xandarian knowledge, into his helmet, and they progress this idea nicely in Secret Invasion, ringing the changes surprisingly. Everything ends with a massive surprise, to be laid in line with all the others that have occurred. Secret Invasion is one satisfying superhero graphic novel, and the series continues with Nova Corps.