Last month Valiant launched Ivar, Timewalker, bringing the third and final Anni-Padda brother into the spotlight with his own book, with Gilad and Armstrong already having their own solo titles in Eternal Warrior and Archer & Armstrong and the two have also shown up in the recent The Valiant mini-series. This new book by Fred Van Lente, Clayton Henry and Brian Reber explores the time-traveler’s self-appointed mission to keep the timelines safe and also feature a great supporting actor in CERN scientist Neela Sethi, caught up in Ivar’s time-hopping madness.
The second issue, out this past Wednesday, picks up from where the first issue left off last month and we have Ivar and Neela in a prehistoric time several millions of years in Earth’s past trying to figure out what to do next. Having just “discovered” time travel, Neela is attempting to sort everything out while Ivar fills her in, and the neat thing here is how he teaches her about the immutable nature of changing the past or the future, with the most classic of tropes of time travel: killing Hitler.
As I said last time, I really like Neela as a character, and this issue further supports my position on the matter. Neela is a smart and intelligent character who keeps her wits about her even in the most challenging of circumstances and she also makes for a great partner to Ivar, who is as crazy as they come, but is himself quite well-put together nonetheless. Kinda like Dr. Who if you will, though I’d say that he is much more likeable than the alien time-traveler.
In this issue, Fred Van Lente deals with the fact that in most stories with time travel, at least contemporary ones, writers go down the route of putting the protagonist on the path to killing the greatest villain of the last century, Hitler. But can killing Hitler really change the outcome of history as we know it? What could really be involved in something like that? That’s what Ivar and Neela must discover here, though Ivar is already aware of much of the complications involved and the whole thing is a “teaching moment” for Neela.
From the last issue, we know that in the future Neela Sethi becomes a villain, a rather dark and twisted individual actually, and so it is really interesting to see the contradictions of the character as they present themselves here because it makes for some great drama here and also some really fun reading. On the one hand we have a time-traveling rookie, and on the other we have an experienced villain who is out to kill Ivar, her former… mentor.
I’m thoroughly enjoying all of this in the series, and I think that Fred Van Lente has some really sharp and effective writing here. I mean, I can’t help but enjoy the series, despite some earlier reservations, and Fred has totally won me over. All that remains now is for Valiant to put out a book featuring all three of the Anni-Padda brothers and I’ll be content.
Another thing is how much “hard science” is crammed into this issue. We are dealing with time travel here, and so that raises a lot of questions for Neela, who is a theoretical physicist by trade and doesn’t get along very well with all the historical background that Ivar dumps on her, or the whole complicated mess of science and concerned intricacies that come with time travel. This made the story that much more immersive for me, and while I myself struggled at times to make some headway through all of it, I nevertheless enjoyed it because the issue made me sit up and pay attention.
Clayton Henry is the artist here with Brian Reber on art, Robert Gill doing the World War One sequences and Dave Sharpe on the letters. The cover art is by Raul Allen. I love the art here. At times it can be a bit simplistic but most of the time there are a hell of a lot of details packed into every page, and some of the expression-work for the characters is just amazing, such as when a (relatively) giant dragonfly comes after Neela while they are in the Carboniferous period, or even later when she is confronted with the very real possibility of being able to kill Hitler.
Superb work all around.
More Ivar, Timewalker: #1.