Heroes Reborn was an event that was looked eagerly upon by many fans as it let the Image creators who had left Marvel years earlier, return and reboot some of Marvel’s best characters. In the end, when all was said and done, the books did not live up to the hype and left a lot of people cold and wanting the original versions back, which eventually, did happen. After a book called Heroes Return, as well as a number of one-shots, there was little left of that alternate timeline, and what was, would soon fade into obscurity. One of those leftover concepts was Nomad.
In the Reborn universe, Nomad was a teenage girl named Rikki Barnes who became the sidekick to Captain America. It was all she had wanted and she was good at it. Now in the main 616 universe, Rikki is alone, has no family and is a sidekick unto herself. Written by Sean McKeever and drawn by David Baldeon, our heroine, and the series itself, while done really well did not find the audience that it was looking for.
There are various reasons as to why this could have happened, the big one being that she was a Liefeld creation, which it seems people have a natural aversion for. In retort, Deadpool, Cable and X-Force are all concepts that Liefeld created and they seem to do really well. Another reason might simply be that no one really connected with Nomad or Marvel could not find a place for her in their publishing plan. Whatever the reason might be, it is quite sad as this little series was one of the better teen dramas featuring a female lead that Marvel has ever released.
McKeever does a great job conjuring up those teenage feelings of isolation, self-doubt, longing, jealousy, yearning and more. Rikki is as complicated a character as they come, not only because of her age, but also because she is lost in a world that is not hers and only feels better, feels safe, behind a mask. She is so alone that when she found herself in the main Marvel universe, she sought out the current timeline’s version of her neo-Nazi brother, who happens to be normal thankfully, and befriended him not knowing that his feelings ran deeper. Complicated in Rikki’s case might be too simple a word.
Not only does McKeever put her through an emotional wringer, but as she is a superhero, he also puts her through her paces on that front as well. Besides the petty everyday crime, she goes up against Flag-Smasher, her hypnotized classmates, a werewolf of some sort and Professor Power. On top of everything, she is trying to hold down a job as well. The really great thing about this book is how much she mirrors Peter Parker when he was young and doing the exact same thing. A little bit of déjà vu, but in a good way.
After this series ended, Nomad would go on to star in a team book called Young Allies before finally losing the battle in Onslaught Unleashed. It is a real shame as Sean McKeever and company gave it a good shot, delivering an exciting and tumultuous teenage hero slice-of-life and made Rikki into a strong female leading lady at a point when Marvel needed more. Thankfully today, in 2014, you can find many strong female led titles, a trend which will hopefully outgrow that term and become just the norm.
4 out of 5