This article contains spoilers for X-Men Red #4.
In Marvel Comics, Nova is still considered the greatest of the Guardians of the Galaxy. Introduced in 1976, Richard Rider - better known as the man called Nova - was created as a homage to Spider-Man. Although his powerset was very different, Nova shared Peter Parker's humble working-class background, his secret identity, and his soap-opera personal life. Unfortunately, Nova was a lot less successful than Spider-Man, remaining a second-tier superhero.
All that changed in 2006, when Nova became the most important man in the galaxy. While the Avengers were fighting Civil War, an even bigger war was going on. Annihilus launched an invasion from the Negative Zone, and the Annihilation Wave destroyed Xandar - and the entire Nova Corps. Nova was the sole survivor, and he absorbed the full power of the Nova Force, fighting on the front lines even when all around him had fallen. Richard Rider was forced to grow up fast, swiftly maturing into a skilled tactician who orchestrated Annihilus' greatest defeat. The man called Nova saved the entire galaxy.SCREENRANT VIDEO OF THE DAY
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X-Men Red #4, by Al Ewing, Juann Cabal, Andres Genolet, and Michael Sta. Maria, reveals the galaxy has never forgotten Nova's heroism. It sees the leaders of the great space empires gather to discuss a disaster, the murder of the Shi'ar Empress Xandrar. Surprisingly, they also invite Nova as the representative of the Guardians of the Galaxy. He is there for one reason: "He stood when all else fell, and we remember." It seems Richard Rider is still honored for his heroism.
It's no understatement to say that Marvel's "Annihilation" event was one of their most important crossovers. It was remarkable in that it coincided with the superhero Civil War on Earth, meaning the cosmic heroes - generally considered secondary - were essentially on their own. This actually made the stakes feel even greater because it really did feel as though galactic civilization came within a hair's breadth of collapse. Nova was transformed from the cocky and reckless "Human Rocket" into a military leader who fought on the front lines alongside the likes of the Silver Surfer and Quasar - and he carried on fighting even when Quasar died. It's fitting to see Marvel continue to recognize this story's importance even now, 17 years later.
Nova is no longer the man he was during "Annihilation," of course. He no longer wields the full power of the Nova Corps, and the Xandarian Worldmind he once hosted is now back on its homeworld. But the events of "Annihilation" clearly left an indelible mark on the galaxy, leading to the rulers of the various galactic powers considering Nova the greatest of the Guardians of the Galaxy. It's a delight to see Richard Rider recognized in this way.