Marvel is teasing a big Nova return for its “Standoff” series, so now is a good time to revisit Marvel’s intergalactic police force. The Nova Corps has a long history at Marvel comics, and in the Marvel Cinematic Universe at large, so it’s easy to imagine the series getting more attention as we move forward.

What is the Nova Corps?

The Nova Corps is an intergalactic military body that acts as a sort of law enforcement for a faraway universe. Their base is on Xandar, which was a key location in 2014’s Guardians of the Galaxy. Much like an army on Earth, the Nova Corps are organized into ranks under the leadership of Nova Prime. Its power comes from a collective energy source known as the Nova Force, which is generated by a living computer, the Xandarian Worldmind. So basically a large, potent, space police.

In Comics

Richard Rider as Nova

Until recently, the most prominent Nova corpsman in comics was Richard Rider, who starred in his own comic book series. A New York high schooler given access to the Nova Force by the dying last surviving member of the Nova Corps, Rider has starred in the Nova solo comics for most of the series publication since the early ‘60s. His death at the hands of Thanos paved the way for Sam Alexander to take over.

Alexander was created in 2011 by Jeph Loeb and Ed McGuiness. A 15-year old teenager from Arizona, he lives with his father, mother, and younger sister. His dad works at his school as a janitor, but is often drunk and talks about his time as a Nova Centurion. After his father goes missing, he learns from the Guardians of the Galaxy that his seemingly crazy father was telling the truth, and that Sam’s parents knew about the Nova Corps the whole time. This leads Alexander to don the uniform and train with the Guardians as a new Nova.

Sam Alexander as Nova

Sam Alexander is the most current Nova, headlining his own series since 2011 and joining the Avengers last year in the All-New, All-Different line-up along with Ms. Marvel.

In Popular Media

Nova’s biggest appearance to date has been its role in Guardians of the Galaxy. In the film, they served as friendly antagonists-turned-allies to Peter Quill’s Star-Lord, and his fellow guardians: Gamora, Drax, Rocket Racoon, and Groot.

Embodying the space police aesthetic, the Nova Corps were the military defense against Ronan the Accuser, and were led in the film by Nova Prime Irani Rael (Glenn Close), along with two prominent corpsman, Rhomann Dey and Denarian Garthan Saal (John C. Reilly and Peter Serafinowicz, respectively). They were jerks, but they were also ultimately the good guys, and the two comedy vets imbued them with a dry humor — that kept them likable throughout.

Bunch of A-holes

Future Appearances

As the Avengers are currently running through a mini-arc titled “Standoff”, Marvel has teased a “Long Awaited Return…” with this image:

The gold cross is reminiscent of the star symbol found on the Nova Corps helmet, and might mean the return of Richard Rider (no one stays dead forever in comic books). However, a lot of Nova Corps members are missing or dead at this point in the comic’s publication, and could really mean any number of them could return, including Sam’s father Jesse Alexander. Expect big things in the future for the Nova Corps, in the comics and on film.