But in the intervening years since those early days, it seems that the folks over at Marvel decided to invest more in this character and try to have him play on the more "cosmic" level of stories in the comic book universe instead of your typical stopping super-villains on Earth type of stories.
And while I can't say that I'm all that familiar with all of the stories that came into play since I was still an active Spider-Man reader (I quit after The Clone Saga), I was surprised to see him come back into play during the events of Annihilation. And the events of that particular war truly changed him and helped him mature as a character.
And it probably helped that he also commands the entire Nova force. Yeah, that can totally change your perspective a bit.
Synopsis: Nova Volume 4 was the on-going series for the character Nova as penned by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning. I started in 2007 and ran for 36 issues (and one annual). I recently picked up the entire series thanks to comiXology.
Annihilation War, Nova together with the Xandarian Worldmind in his head proceeded to single-handed take-up his original charge as a sort of space policeman given the mandate of the Nova Corps. Being Nova Prime and the sole holder of the entire Nova Force, Rider has become a lot more powerful and is able to hold his own versus much bigger targets. At the same time, the fact that the fate of the Nova Corps and Xandarian culture as a whole rests solely on Rider's shoulders does not sit well with the Worldmind. Thus the intelligence constantly urges Richard to rebuild the Corps as soon as possible, however Rider refuses to be rushed into haphazardly training raw recruits and sending them into combat before they are ready.
The 36-issue run of Nova covers several "cosmic" events including Annihilation Conquest and War of Kings. The run of the stories also introduces Knowhere and Cosmo, the telepathic dog, both being notable in them later Guardians of the Galaxy comics.
And I really love Cosmo.
And thus we further stress the fact of how much bigger his scope of responsibility is now, especially when compared to his short stint back on Earth during the events of Secret Invasion. And found that particular storyline and his dealing with Tony Stark rather well-done and a great way to demonstrate just how different Rider had become.
The series certainly had its share of entertaining moments (especially the banter between Richard and the Worldmind) and of course some rather serious stories (such as Richard dealing with his transmode virus infection. And one cannot ignore when the Worldmind takes matters into its own hands and starts rebuilding the Nova Corps without Richard, including drafting Ego, the Living Planet into the Corps. And given all the natural comparisons between the Nova Corps and the Green Lantern Corps, the little joke about how ridiculous it was to recruit an entire planet did make me smile.
The Worldmind definitely stole the show a lot of times and I loved how his story (and yes he truly has one) was ultimately resolved. Some may find the twists there a bit corny, but I felt they were rather well-done and quite fulfilling to read.
Nova Volume 4 is a great romp into how Marvel approaches cosmic stories with respect to their universe. At the end of the day, Richard Rider is pretty much an ordinary guy with a bucket helmet who goes really fast, but he perseveres and gets the job done. Thus the series as a whole rates a solid 5 urges by the Worldmind for Richard to pay attention to him out of 5.