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Capes On the Couch - Where Comics Get Counseling

May 10, 2023

We continue Cosmic May with a look at the newest member of the Nova Corps, Sam Alexander! How does Sam stack up against other heroes, and his own expectations?

  • Intro
    • Last call for PuchiCon
    • Hiatus coming up in June

  • Background (7:05)
    • Sam Alexander created by Jeph Loeb and Ed McGuinness in Marvel Point One #1 (Nov 2011)
    • Character named after Jeph’s son Sam who died of cancer when he was 17
    • Sam Alexander lives in a small Arizona town with his little sister, mother, and father Jesse, who works as a janitor at Sam’s school, and is always drunkenly telling stories about how he was a member of the Nova Corps
    • One night Jesse disappears, and then Sam is visited by Gamora & Rocket Raccoon, who give him Jesse’s helmet and tell him he’s the only Nova Corps member left in the galaxy - after the initial surprise, he encounters and heavily damages a Chitauri invasion fleet heading towards Earth, and upon his return gets trained by Gamora & Rocket
    • Joins the Avengers briefly during AvX, and then allies with Speedball & Justice for a new iteration of the New Warriors
    • Utatu eventually revealed that Jesse was alive, sending Sam into a state of elation
    • Discovers Jesse serving as a Chitauri slave, and brings him home - only to later discover that it was a clone made by the Chitauri to get close to Sam, kill him, and get the helmet - the truth sends Sam into a depressive state
    • Joins the Champions after Civil War II, as he Kamala and Miles are dissatisfied with the Avengers and their actions
    • He encounters a returned Richard Rider, who mentors him for a spell
    • After the Champions capture a major villain, Sam’s helmet is confiscated because the kids went rogue in their efforts - this once again spirals him into depression, although he later gets it back

  • Issues - Theme is looking for love in all the wrong places (9:40)
    • Always looking for a father figure
    • Ruby - stopped “hero-worshiping” his dad - that moment when kids realize their parents are only human and just as flawed as they are (17:38)
    • Usually feels he’s the odd man out on any team, whether the Avengers, Champions, or Nova Corps (25:56)

  • Break (33:50)
    • Plugs for Not If I Reboot You First, Geek Peak, and Howard Mackie

  • Treatment (35:28)
    • In-universe - Have Sam work on things without the helmet
    • Out of universe - (38:07)

  • Skit (42:25)
    • DOC: Hello Sam, I’m Dr. Issues. 
    • SAM: Hey.
    • DOC: Thanks for taking the time to meet with me, I know you’re very busy.
    • SAM: Yeah, well not like I had much say in the matter.
    • DOC: I understand this isn’t easy for you. 
    • SAM: I don’t know why Kamala is being such a hardass about all this. She said I couldn’t have the helmet back until I talked to you.
    • DOC: Let’s not focus so much on how we got here, and start talking about what we can accomplish while we’re here. 
    • SAM: *mutters*Yeah, I could go get the Ultimate Nullifier from the moon dude and end this-
    • DOC: What was that? 
    • SAM: Ugh, nevermind. I’m just sick and tired of always losing this helmet, having it taken away from me, or whatever. It’s like… no one gets it.
    • DOC: Then explain it to me. 
    • SAM: What difference would it make?
    • DOC: Seems to me it would make all the difference in the world. The helmet sounds pretty special to you. Would it help you feel better to have me understand it? 
    • SAM: I dunno, maybe?
    • DOC: There’s your answer, then. 
    • SAM: Can you help me get it back?
    • DOC: You said Kamala won’t give it back until you talk to me, right? So, talk to me.
    • SAM: Fine. So, this helmet… it was my dad’s. He wasn’t always the best dad growing up, and he told me all these stories about how he was in the Nova Corps and he fought all these amazing battles in space and saved people all the time. I never believed him. And then one day he disappeared without a trace, but he left the helmet to me. Well, he left it to a talking raccoon and a green assassin lady, but he told them to give it to me. And it gives me all kinds of awesome powers. I can fly, I can fire energy blasts, I’m super strong. That helmet made me the only Nova Corpsman left. Well, at least until Rich came back. And it made me an Avenger, a Champion. It’s helped me save the planet, the universe, other worlds. Yeah, it’s brought me some trouble, but it also helped me protect my family more times than I can count. And it’s helping me search for my dad, because he’s alive somewhere out there, and I’m gonna find him one day, no matter what it takes. So this helmet… it’s a huge part of me, it’s who I am. And every time I don’t have it, I feel like… like I’m losing a part of myself. Like I always have to keep fighting to keep my identity. 
    • DOC: I see.
    • SAM: And I wish I could make other people see how much it means to me.
    • DOC: Have you told them that?
    • SAM: Yeah, lots of times.
    • DOC: What kind of reaction do you get?
    • SAM: People roll their eyes, or they laugh and say stuff like “you need to be a hero without the helmet” or crap like that. And it’s like, obviously I can’t fly through space without the helmet, so yeah it makes a difference. I’m not, like, Thor or somebody. Doesn’t make me less of a hero.
    • DOC: I understand. 
    • SAM: Do you really…REALLY? *sarcasm* you’ve traveled to other worlds and saved people?
    • DOC: No…I’ve listened to hundreds, maybe thousands of people place part or all of their identity into one facet of their life and whenever it’s not there, they try to compensate by recreating that part of themselves in other areas where it just won’t fit.
    • SAM: Oh. OK. That… kinda sounds a little accurate…
    • DOC: Then when you try to loop in the ones that you think would understand, they’re dismissive because they already have their own defense mechanisms and don’t necessarily want to open up that can of worms talking to you about it.
    • SAM: Uh…yeah…I guess that’s right
    • DOC: And at least there’s someone that can show you how to do things right…if you’re lucky, but then they probably don’t want to stick around for all of the things going on in your head, and THEY bounce, so you feel like you're back to square one again!
    • SAM: I mean, sometimes that’s true, like with Rich. Who am I compared to that guy? But he knows what he’s doing, not that I don’t but, come on, man! And there’s one thing you probably can’t relate to still, because nobody really does.
    • DOC: That being…
    • SAM: *pause, deep breath* Can I ask you for an opinion?
    • DOC: My degree and my session timer say yes.
    • SAM: Ok…ok…a lot of times, I mention my dad, and that’s when people shut me out. I don’t know why. I think it’s because they think I’m being a moron or too soft. Is that it?
    • DOC: *pause* I doubt it.
    • SAM: Why’d you hesitate?
    • DOC: Because I don’t know. I don’t know all of the people you interact with. But I will tell you this. In general, people don’t think about you nearly as much as you think they do, unless you are directly bringing things up about yourself. Then the switch goes on and they have to use their mental bandwidth in a way that they didn’t expect. I have to pause, and it’s my job. Imagine what that’s like for a layperson…even a superpowered layperson.
    • SAM: Huh. That’s deep.
    • DOC: It can go deeper. I don’t think that’s your real question.
    • SAM: I don’t understand.
    • DOC: You didn’t get this far to say all of this stuff to me just for the helmet. Your dad question is right street, wrong block.
    • SAM: So I’m in the neighborhood?
    • DOC: I…guess…thank you for explaining the metaphor. Anyway, my point is, I think you're having some conviction issues about the search for your father.
    • SAM: It’s not that I don’t believe he’s out there. It’s just… I had thought the search was over. I brought him home. And he turned out to be a clone. That… that broke me. Because it was like losing him a second time. So now I’m back at square one.
    • DOC: Now that, I won’t pretend to understand. That type of grief doesn’t vanish. Just so you know, there’s no right answer. If you want to actively search, maybe take a set amount of time when you can, it makes sense. If you want to put it on the back burner, and focus on other things while you heal, that works too. Either way, we can work out a plan.
    • SAM: Does that plan involve me getting my helmet back?
    • DOC: *sigh* Well since you have to function at a high level I guess I have some pull to say you should have the helmet. But I’m not going to fight anyone who takes it away from you. Work out your own relationships, ok?
    • SAM: Sooooo…I DO get the helmet back?
    • DOC: Yes. Fine. But my point is if Kamala says no - 
    • SAM: *ignoring the last part* I get my hellllllmet, I get my helllllllmet…SWEET!

  • Ending (50:05)
    • Recommended reading: First Nova series (Loeb/Wells), Champions 
    • Next episodes: Galactus, Nova (Richard Rider), Miguel O’Hara (Spider-Man 2099)
    • Plugs for social & GonnaGeek Network


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