Richard Rider was born in Hempstead, New York. As a teenager, he was chosen at random by the alien Rhomann Dey, last surviving Centurion of the planet Xandar's elite Nova Corps, to inherit his power and succeed him in the rank of Nova Prime following the destruction of his world by the intergalactic pirate, Zorr. Having been mortally wounded in the battle that tore Xandar apart, Dey succeeded in tracking Zorr to Earth but was unable to exact vengeance due to the extent of his injuries. At death's door, Dey had little choice but to transfer his power to an unsuspecting human on the planet below, praying whomever he found will take up his cause and prove worthy of the powers he had given. Rider gained great strength, invulnerability, the power to fly, and a uniform with a sealed life support system, but little instruction on how to use these new powers. Still, he took up the life of a superhero, fighting costumed villains in New York and gradually learning how to use his new powers.
After a brief career as "Nova, the Human Rocket," he was called into space to serve in the protection of the recently reconstructed planet Xandar, the same world where his great powers originated. Eventually tiring of a life of constant intergalactic war and hoping to rejoin his high school friends, the boy requested to return home to Earth. When he was told he had to relinquish his powers in order to do so, Rider agreed.
For a time, Rider lived a relatively normal life, flipping burgers, and barely making ends meet due to his disrupted education. He spent his time trying to pick up the pieces of the life he had left behind, all the while wishing he could find a way to regain the powers he lost. Unknown to him, during this period, the planet Xandar was destroyed again in an attack by the space pirate Nebula.
Superhuman Strength: Rider is able to channel the Nova Force for the purpose of increasing his physical strength to vast levels. While the full limit isn't known, the Nova Force can grant rider sufficient superhuman strength to lift well in excess of 100 tons easily.
Superhuman Speed: By channeling the Nova Force properly, Rider can grant himself the ability to run and move at speeds that are beyond the physical limits of the finest human athlete. While the upper limit of his running speed isn't known, he can at least run several hundred miles an hour. He can move at speeds faster than light
Superhuman Stamina: Due to the Nova Forces augmentation of his musculature, Rider's muscles produce considerably less fatigue toxins during physical activity than the musculature of a normal human. While the full limits of his stamina aren't known, he is able to exert himself physically for at least 24 hours before the fatigue toxins impair him.
Superhuman Durability: Rider's body is highly resistant to all forms of conventional physical injury and is practically invulnerable. He can withstand high caliber bullets, falls from tremendous heights, exposure to extremes in both temperature and pressure, powerful energy blasts, acidic corrosives, and tremendous impact forces without sustaining injury. While employing the Nova Force, Rider can easily withstand the rigors of deep space indefinitely. He can withstand attacks from powerful beings such as Annihilus, Silver Surfer relatively unharmed. He was able to withstand without any significant damage, the raw energy and power stored in the reservoir in Galactus' ship which contained power siphoned from the destroyed energy of entire planets. He was even capable of withstanding a massive omni-directional blast from an enraged Galactus at near point blank range which was so powerful it encompassed and destroyed more than 3 Solar Systems relatively unharmed
Superhuman Agility: Rider's agility, balance, and bodily coordination are enhanced to levels that are beyond the physical limits of the finest human athlete.
Superhuman Reflexes: Rider's reflexes are similarly enhanced and are superior to those of the finest human athlete.
Regenerative Healing Factor: In spite of his great physical resilience, it is possible for him to sustain injury. On the rare occasion that Rider is injured he can purposely channel the Nova Force to rapidly heal damaged bodily tissues. The full limits and capabilities of his healing powers aren't known but he was able to heal himself any damage done instantly with the Nova Force.
Flight: Rider can use the Nova Force to propel himself through the air at tremendous speeds. Nova is fully capable of achieving faster than light velocities, and often does, while traveling through space. However, moving as such speeds while in the atmosphere of a planet would cause devastation to the planet itself, so he travels much slower while on within a planetary atmosphere, generally at supersonic speeds.
Energy Generation: Rider can channel the Nova Force and expel the energy in the form of extremely powerful concussive blasts that he often uses in combat situations.A few of the abilities he has shown are, the ability to manipulate the near infinite energy of the Nova Force to create hyperspace portals in space such as Space Gates, he can release extremely powerful gravimetric pulses and beams, either from specific parts of his body or from his energy body surface, he can create powerful electromagnetic discharge that can nullify gravity. He can use the Nova Force to create extremely powerful energy attacks. He was able to lobotomize Ego the living planet himself, in one massive attack of energy using the Nova Force which was off the scale.
Xandrian Worldmind: Aside from housing the Nova Force, Rider is also the host of the Xandrian Worldmind. The Worldmind is a sentient collective created to govern and maintain all forms of Xandrian culture. The Worldmind contains all knowledge collected by the Xandrian people including art, science, history, and philosophy. Rider can access any aspect of this technology by communicating with the Worldmind verbally or mentally. As a result, The Worldmind often contacts Rider unbidden and usually offers advice, instructions, insights, recommendations, and even criticisms. Rider's bond with the Worldmind is highly useful, however, also in the fact that the Worldmind is crucial in helping Rider maintain self control when tapping into the full might of the Nova Force.
Nova's rival appears to be Frank West. Their respective "super powers" are not innate; each derive their abilities from external sources (in Nova's case; the Nova Force is shaped to produce a variety effects, whereas Frank utilizes any, and every, thing he can get his hands on as a weapon). They both also have a Red Shading on their Artwork.