Real Name: Samaya (see comments)
Identity/Class: Extraterrestrial (Centaurian) humanoid technology-user, empowered by the Nova Force
Occupation: Centurion in the Nova Corps
Group Membership: Nova Corps
Affiliations: Pyo (deceased), Richard Rider, Xandarian Worldmind
Enemies: Annihilation Wave forces (but Samaya never learned their identity before they killed her)
Known Relatives: None
Base of Operations: Andromeda and Milky Way galaxies
First Appearance: Annihilation: Prologue#1 (May, 2006)
Powers/Abilities: Prior to joining the Nova Corps, Samaya was presumably a normal adult female Centaurian and, as such, possessed no (known) superhuman physical powers. It has not been revealed if she possessed any of the psionic or mystical abilities which some members of her race have demonstrated.
After joining the Nova Corps, Samaya was imbued with the Nova Force by the Worldmind. This energy force provided her with the abilities of flight, super-strength, and a connection to the Worldmind itself.
As a Centurion, Samaya was able to access more of the Nova Force than lower-ranked Novas. Accordingly, she may have been able to tap into greater powers (including the opening of Stargates, energy blasts, and the release of a brief electromagnetic static burst).
Uniform: Samaya wore the standard uniform of a Nova Corps Centurion. It protected her from the vacuum of space as well as intense heat, and also provided her with up to six hours of breathable air. Her uniform could also prevent her from being fatally injured by impacts, within certain unrevealed limits, but her helmet was less resistant to such damage.
History: Little has been revealed about Samaya's life before her final hours but the fact that she had achieved the rank of Centurion indicates that she had served well for some time. She appeared to be good friends with a female Rigellian Centurion named Pyo.
(Annihilation: Prologue#1) <Annihilation Day, plus 7> - Arriving at Xandar Spaceport in response to a Nova Corps crisis alert, Samaya and Pyo reported for duty right behind the Terran Nova, Richard Rider. When Pyo's comment "Nice look" had Rider asking what was wrong with the way he looked, Samaya told him, "Ignore her, Rider. We all do." As the trio discussed the situation, Samaya stated that the last time there had been a lockdown was a close brush with Galactus but nothing had come of it. She then mentioned that "talk" had it that there had been an incident out at the Kyln. After Pyo asked "Sam" if it looked like they were stuck with another "Terran dink" and Rider wanted to know what "dink" meant, Samaya replied, "Dink, greenie, rookie...'s all the same." Rider protested, asking how his five years of service could make him a rookie, but Pyo said that Terran years didn't count. She then introduced herself and Samaya.
Later, after taking drop shuttles to travel down to Nova Corps Central on the Xandar Cluster, the trio were among the full muster present for a briefing about the current situation. As they waited, they discussed why they didn't just phase down to Central. Pyo informed Rider that phasing (teleportation) required a phase tube (that couldn't be seen or felt) because there had to be a path to which each traveler was bonded. Samaya then pointed out that crossed phase tubes scrambled the signals of the travelers, resulting in "all kinds of delightfully melded oddities," and that the reason why phasing hadn't replaced star drive was that too many active tubes would have greatly increased the potential for disaster. As the briefing began and the destruction of the primary Kyln array was confirmed, the Thirteenth through Twenty-Seventh Peacekeeping Battalions were ordered to reinforce localized Omega Core forces. Samaya remarked, "That's me and mine. Scut work. Why am I not surprised?" The briefing continued to its ending, but as the gathered Novas were being dismissed, the Xandar Cluster was struck by a massive surprise attack by the unknown hostiles. With so many already dead in the first seconds, the Corps was ordered to scramble. When Rider asked what had happened to the hostiles being "two star systems away," Samaya simply replied, "Oops!" She then donned her helmet and told Rider that he was with her. Rider asked Pyo if Samaya ever struck her as grim and Pyo replied, "No, just experienced, dink."
As they flew to defend Xandar, Samaya told Rider that they were freeform hit and run and that they were to cripple as many of the attackers as they could before they could make planetfall. However, many Corpsmen were quickly hit by energy beams, including Samaya, prompting her to say, "Can't hold 'em." Samaya was then struck across her torso by a large piece of debris, the impact staggering her but not causing any major injury. Rider came to her aid and quickly got her away from the debris, but Samaya was horrified to realize that the Worldmind's A.I. had been corrupted, taking down their comms and rendering the Nova Corps essentially blind and deaf.
As the insectoid attackers advanced and the Corps were seemingly unable to stop them, Samaya countered despairing talk of there being "too many" of the enemy with "More fight, less talk!" She then acknowledged that they had to get out of the structure because it was coming apart. Samaya was puzzled when Rider suggested using the enemy's indiscriminate fire against them but once she saw how Rider was able to fly in random patterns to trick the enemy into taking each other down, she said, "I'll be jaggered" and led other Corpsmen after Rider.
Before they could make much progress, Samaya saw that the burning hulk of the Spaceport was coming down right towards them. As she told Rider that they'd never get clear in time, he told her to prime her gear for deep space and stated that since they couldn't go around they'd have to go through. As they flew together through the wreckage, Samaya told Rider, "I think I should point out...if you pull this off, I'll mate with you. For life." Rider responded, "Oh, that is so a deal!" Sadly, only seconds later, some flaming debris struck Samaya directly, shattering both her helmet and her head and killing her instantly. A shocked Rider barely had time to scream out "SAMAYA! NO!" before he was struck by a much larger piece of debris but survived when his uniform protected him.
(Annihilation: Nova#1 - BTS) <Annihilation Day, plus 11> - Four days later, on the Orienta Main Shard ruin, the Worldmind informed the just-revived Richard Rider that everyone else was dead and that he was the last functional Nova Corps operative, the last Nova.
Comments: Created by Keith Giffen (writer) and Scott Kolins with Ariel Olivetti (art).
In Nova IV it was revealed that the Worldmind has stored records of all deceased Centurions, records that include personality-templates that appear to have all the memories of the people upon which they are based. With these records as part of the Worldmind gestalt, it would seem to be theoretically possible for Samaya (or any other Centurion) to be reborn in a cloned body. After all, using Xandarian technology, Queen Adora was "reborn" in just such a procedure.
It has been established that Centaurians typically have two names, a personal name and a family name (e.g., Yondu Udonta, Prax Ord). Since it has been shown that Nova Corps members were usually addressed by their last name, it must be presumed that "Samaya" is this character's family name and that her personal name has not yet been revealed (and now probably never will be).
Speaking of names, I've known of the "Centaurians" for over thirty years now but it wasn't until I wrote this profile that I realized that the official name for their race is WRONG!
Consider the following: In science fiction, the names of most sentient races are derived from the names for their home planets. Thus, we have Earthlings (or Terrans) from Earth (or Terra), Martians from Mars, Vulcans from Vulcan, and Minbari, Centauri, and Narn from, respectively, Minbar, Centauri Prime, and Narn. With this in mind, it seems to make sense that the race which evolved on the planet Centauri-IV would be the Centaurians. However, this line of reasoning overlooks the crucial fact that Centauri-IV is NOT that planet's "real" name, it's the name that the Terrans gave it when they colonized it. Centauri-IV's real name is its original name, the one by which its native inhabitants knew their world before the Terrans took over. Similarly, it follows that the actual race name of the "Centaurians" should be the word by which THEY refer to themselves and not what the humans call them.
To be fair, this wasn't really a problem prior to Samaya's appearance. After all, all earlier "Centaurians" came from alternate realities n which their race was no longer the master of their homeworld. In Reality-691, Centauri-IV had been colonized by Earthmen who considered the natives to be "primitive" and "barbaric." Similarly, in Reality-9812 the "people of Beta Centauri IV" (as they are known to their overlords) are brutally dominated by the forces of the first Terran Empire. Under these circumstances, it's understandable that the native race would come to be known by whatever name their conquerors chose for them. However, in Reality-616 there has so far been no significant contact between Terrans and the natives of the fourth planet from the star whose Earth designation in Alpha Centauri B. So, since there is no way that those natives could know what Earth people call their home star, why do they refer to themselves as Centaurians?
Although Yondu of the Guardians of the Galaxy was the first Centaurian ever seen in a Marvel comic, he comes from an alternate timeline known as Earth-691. Samaya is the first Centaurian to appear who is native to the "mainstream" reality of Earth-616. However, the existence of "Centaurian scientists" in Reality-616 was mentioned almost two years earlier in The Thing: Freakshow #3.
From its first edition, the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe has always insisted that, as in Reality-691, a planet known as "Centauri IV" was the homeworld of the Centaurian race. However, that homeworld wasn't depicted until Infinity#3, and wasn't named "Centauri IV" in any story until Avengers V#21. Unfortunately, the narrative in Infinity#5 later referred to that planet by the name "Centauri Prime." Also, there has so far been no in-story confirmation that the planet Centauri IV which exists in Reality-616 is part of the Alpha Centauri system. The entry for the Centaurians in Annihilation: The Nova Corps Files#1 continued to repeat the old misinformation that they came from the BETA Centauri star system.
When I first read Annihilation: Prologue#1, I didn't give any thought to the fact that Samaya's large red dorsal fin was visible outside of her helmet. Later, when I did wonder why she would leave any part of her body vulnerable, I came to the conclusion that she wouldn't do so and that the visible fin must have been artificial (like a hologram) and that her real fin was folded up inside her helemet. However, scanning the images I wanted to use for this profile enlarged them and I noticed that in one of them there was a line visible on the upper rear of Samaya's helmet and that that line corresponded to where her fin seemed to protrude through her helmet. So, as ridiculous as it seems, it looks like Samaya's helmet actually did have a narrow opening down its back so as to accommodate her fin. Of course, another possible explanation (which has just occurred to me) is that that line could actually be where the (hypothetical) artificial fin emerges (or is projected) from her helmet, but that's just speculation on my part.
For the record, the story in Guardians of the Galaxy I#24 established that one of the most striking features of the Centaurian species, their large red dorsal fins, are NOT fins after all but crests composed of compressed hair follicles. Known as a Tahlei, this crest plays some part in a Centaurian's sexual interaction with other Centaurians but they consider it improper to discuss its exact function. Of course, this may only apply to Centaurians from Reality-691.
It is interesting to note that the Centaurians from
Reality-616 (of which Samaya is the first ever seen) appear to differ from those of
Reality-691 (like Yondu) in at least four ways. First, the mainstream Centaurians are far
more accepting of technology than Yondu was. We can see this with Samaya (who was a member
of the Nova Corps) and with Chandra (who was a crewmember on a starship) and with the
Centaurian Inhumans (who live with the other Univerasal Inhumans aboard a giant city-ship
which travels between the stars). There are also the (unseen) "Centaurian scientists"
whom Paibok the Power Skrull claimed had enhanced his abilities. All in all, it seems that
"our" Centaurians have a much greater knowledge and appreciation of science and technology
than Yondu and his people do. The question is, why? Is it because they exist in different
realities? Or is it the fact that they exist in different TIMES which is important? Maybe
the Centaurians who exist in present-day Reality-691 are as advanced as their 616
counterparts but *something* is going to happen to their civilization in the next 900
years which will cause them to regress to a more primitive level of technology.
--That last option has been my ASSumption/preference--Snood
The second difference relates to their religion. So far all the 691 Centaurians either worship "Anthos" or they are "Akuun" (a Centaurian word meaning "one-without-faith") and every Habaktu (warrior holy man) is taught that all Akuun must die. In contrast, Chandra's people (from Reality-616) believe that it was their godS who gifted them with their various mental abilities (like Chandra's empathy). So, either the 691 Centaurians have always had a monotheistic religion while the 616 Centaurians have been polytheistic or the present-day Centaurians in both realities are currently polytheistic but something will happen in Reality-691 that will cause the Centaurian people living there to become monotheistic. Given that some GotG stories imply that "Anthos" is actually Thanos the Mad Titan, it's not inconceivable that the 691 Thanos wiped out the 691 Centaurian gods and established a new religion in which he was worshipped as Anthos. However, it should be noted that the link between Anthos and Thanos is still only unsubstantiated speculation.
The third difference concerns their attitudes towards sex. Yondu once stated that, for his people, a sexual relationship is only for the purpose of procreation. This implies that Yondu's people either do not enjoy sex (at least, not enough to engage in it recreationally) or their society has restrictions about when it may occur. Contrast this to Samaya's promise to mate with Richard Rider for life if he succeeded in saving them both or to the enjoyment that Els Udonta clearly experienced while kissing Peter Parker. Based on this, it seems that the 616 Centaurians probably enjoy sex more than their 691 counterparts. Of course, it's also possible that Yondu's status as a Habaktu places certain (greater) societal restrictions upon him that would not apply to other 691 Centaurians.
The fourth difference concerns the anatomy of their adult females. As established in the first Guardians of the Galaxy series, Centaurian females had pouches on their chests in which they carried their young. In a footnote in GOTG #15, Editor Craig Anderson stated that "The Centaurians are a race of marsupials." For the most part, the Centaurians from Reality-691 were depicted as lacking human-like breasts. Photon, the first female Centaurian ever shown up close, was quite clearly flat-chested and even males like Yondu were depicted without the nipples that human males possess. However, in Reality-616 the situation appears to be much different as, with the exception of Samaya, every adult female Centaurian has been depicted as quite obviously having human-like breasts. So, what are the implications of this significant physical difference? Does it mean that the 691 Centaurians are marsupials while the 616 Centaurians are placental mammals? If so, then that would mean that the evolutionary path taken by one reality's Centaurians must have differed from that taken by the other reality's Centaurians, and that would indicate that the two timelines must have diverged thousands of years ago. However, while this reasoning is sound, the in-story evidence to verify this theory has not yet been presented so it remains pure speculation.
One last thing about the presence of breasts on female
TV Tropes & Idioms
website has a page ("Non-Mammal Mammaries") devoted to the practice of drawing female
non-human characters with human-like breasts so that their gender will be immediately
apparent to readers/viewers. If you scroll down the page to the "Other" section and
click on the "Comics" link, you'll find the following notation about the Centaurians:
In the Guardians of the Galaxy comics, the Alpha Centaurians initially had a marsupial-like pouch instead of breasts (though oddly, the females still cover the chest area with clothing), but when Kevin West took over he promptly gave the Centaurian ladies boobs. A link to the page in question is here.
A minor (but puzzling) continuity question
Pyo's reference to her and Samaya being "stuck with another Terran dink" is somewhat intriguing for two reasons. First, since Rich Rider was supposedly the FIRST and ONLY Terran to ever have been a member of the Nova Corps, who could Pyo have been talking about?
Second, the idea that Samaya and Pyo would consider Rider (with his "five years in") to be a rookie is somewhat implausible. The only two ways in which they could have seniority over Rider would be if they were members of the original Nova Corps (the one destroyed by Nebula) or if they had joined the second Nova Corps (a.k.a. the StarCorp) before Rider. Unfortunately, both of these options have problems.
1. The original Nova Corps was founded on Xandar millennia ago and survived the destruction of the planet by Zorr, but was finally destroyed when Nebula killed all of the Xandarians. The idea that Samaya might have been a member of this incarnation of the Nova Corps has two problems. First, this Corps was (according to the Worldmind's Nova Corps Database) made up exclusively of Xandarians and so Samaya, as a Centaurian, would not have been recruited. Second, when Nebula destroyed the Xandarian Cluster, the portions of the Nova Force which had been bestowed upon all Nova Corps members were released by their deaths and, as part of a plan put in place by Queen Adora, were transferred into the sole surviving Xandarian, Garthan Saal. However, in order for this failsafe to be activated, the entire Nova Force had to be on a synchronous plane of reality, something which only happened after Rider's dormant powers were reawakened and Saal returned from the timestream. The fact that the ENTIRE Nova Force was required for the failsafe to be activated means that there could not have been any other living beings possessing portions of the Nova Force in existence at that time (aside from Saal and Rider).
2. Once Xandar had been resurrected, Queen Adora announced the establishment of the new Xandarian StarCorp. While the earlier Nova Corps had been primarily concerned with defending the Xandarian civilization, the StarCorp was dedicated to providing protection for all sentient beings throughout the Andromeda and Milky Way galaxies, and many non-Xandarians were recruited into its ranks. Under circumstances which have never been revealed, this StarCorp was restructured and became an intergalactic law enforcement group, and it may have been at this time that the organization renamed itself the Nova Corps. Although Samaya was definitely a member, the idea that she was so for longer than Rider's "five years" has two problems. First, since Rider was the very first person recruited into the new StarCorp, it would seem to be impossible for Samaya to have seniority over him (unless she was recruited during the brief period when Rider had been relieved of his duties for refusing to follow orders). Second, although Annihilation: Prologue#1 was published over 12 years after New Warriors I#42, thanks to Marvel Time (which flows between one-third and one-quarter as fast as "real world" time) the destruction of Xandar by the Annihilation Wave only took place about 3 or 4 years after the formation of the StarCorp. So, once again, this doesn't seem to leave enough time for Samaya to have become a Nova Corps member before Rider.
Having said all that, there have been certain revelations made about the Nova Corps since the Annihilation storyline took place which have added new data that changes what we readers know about the Nova Corps. First, Nova IV#29 introduced Zan Philo, a non-Xandarian Nova Centurion who had been missing and presumed dead since a stargate accident thirty-five years earlier had thrown him and his patrol cruiser out of Reality-616. Philo retained his Nova powers throughout the whole time he was in those other realities and after he finally returned to Reality-616 through the Fault, but he is presumed to have lost them during The Thanos Imperative#6.
A second set of revelations came with the introduction of Sam Alexander as the new Nova. Sam is a fifteen year-old whose alcoholic father Jesse liked to tell his children stories about adventures he had had in outer space (before Sam was born) as a member of the Black Novas (an elite group within the Nova Corps) and about some of his alien friends. Sam never believed his father's stories, but after Jesse disappeared Sam was confronted by Gamora and Rocket Raccoon, who revealed that Jesse had actually been a Black Nova. Sam gains Nova powers when he puts on his father's helmet.
In summary, here's a list of the new information that has
been revealed by the introduction of these two new characters:
1. The fact that Zan Philo and several of Jesse Alexander's comrades in the Black Novas were non-Xandarians indicates that the Nova Corps was not composed exclusively of Xandarians, and that this was true even before the planet Xandar was shattered by Zorr.
2. The fact that Zan Philo and the Black Novas retained their powers during the period when Xandar was resurrected means that the entire Nova Force was not needed to perform that task. Of course, since Philo had been lost outside of reality for years, the failsafe was probably designed so that his already-absent portion would not be needed. Also, since the powers of the Black Novas were contained within their helmets instead of within their bodies, their portions of the Nova Force may have been somehow inaccessible.
3. The fact that Jesse Alexander was a Black Nova even before Xandar was shattered means that Richard Rider was neither the first nor the only human to be a member of the Nova Corps. Why this fact wasn't generally known has not been explained but it could be that all records of him being a Nova were expunged when he became part of the covert Black Nova group.
Taking into account all that we now know about the Nova
Corps, how can Samaya and Pyo's claim of seniority be explained?
1. Samaya and Pyo did not actually have seniority over Rider. Instead, they were just teasing him because they knew that he wouldn't know that they were lying.
2. Samaya and Pyo were recruited into the StarCorp during the time when Rider had been relieved of duty, thus they technically had been serving continuously for a longer period than he had. Plus, writer Keith Giffen doesn't care about Marvel Time.
3. Samaya and Pyo were actually members of the original Nova Corps but they had left the Corps sometime before Nebula's attack. Then, after Xander's resurrection, they (re)joined the StarCorp. As a result, their total time in service did exceed Rider's five (Terran) years.
So, which of these three explanations best fits the claims made by Samaya and Pyo? The first is the easiest (they never knew a human Nova and did not have seniority over Rider) but it makes them liars. The second explains their belief in their seniority, but not their comments about having previously been stuck with a Terran rookie. And the third makes it possible that they had seniority and that they could have known Jesse Alexander as a rookie before he joined the Black Novas, but it is only speculation with no actual in-story evidence to support it.
In the end, unless some future writer decides that these
comments made by Samaya and Pyo must absolutely be explained, any of these three
options is possible. Personally, I'd prefer the third choice but I doubt that anyone is going
to bother to provide a retcon explanation for such a minor continuity question.
I didn't re-read the story, but did they specifically discuss being stuck with another Terran dink/rookie in the Nova Corps, or could they just have worked with another Terran they considered inexperienced before?
Profile by Donald Campbell.
Samaya (nicknamed "Sam") has no known connections to
images: (without ads)
Annihilation: Prologue#1, page 10, panel 2 (main image)
page 25, panel 3 (head shot)
page 25, panel 4 (in flight)
page 28, panel 4 (death)
Annihilation: Prologue#1 (May, 2006) - Keith Giffen (writer), Scott Kolins with Ariel Olivetti (art), Andy Schmidt (editor).
Last updated: 02/10/15
Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.
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