By Fred Van Lente, Pere Perez, Andrew Dalhouse, Dave Sharpe, Carolina Bonita Soler
Once again The Week’s Finest stumped me. I thought for sure an Image debut or a retro Superhero story would engage me and earn the crown as the best comic (in my humble opinion). Yet, only the increasingly awesome time-travel antics of Ivar, Timewalker surpassed all my previous expectations.
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After ditching Ivar in the Prehistoric Era (the one where everything try’s to eat you), Neela steals his time travel device and resolves to do the impossible: change the past.
Anyone who has seen the Doctor Who episode “Father’s Day” will be familiar with this story’s premise. Neela is determined to keep her father from dying in the hospital after an allergic reaction to anesthesia. After mysteriously encountering a bar filled with other versions of herself, she begins her mission. Despite her multiple efforts, she inevitably fails.
After she drunkenly gives up, her ultimate future self (who has been chasing her since the beginning of the series) offers to show her a way around the rules of time travel. The issue ends as Neela must decide whether or not to follow her evil future self.
This was a very enjoyable. Van Lente wrote a compelling story with some nice nods to other stories. Henry’s pencils work well with the tone of the story, which is tongue-in-cheek and not too serious.
Overall: While not a perfect jumping on point, it is on its own an entertaining read for sci-fi fans. That, and the Doctor Who parallels have me looking forward to next month’s issue.
Rating: Poor, Fair, Good, Great, Excellent.
by Fred Van Lente & Clayton Henry
After the debut issue’s exciting leap into action, Van Lente slows down the pace a little to allow Neela to try and adjust to her new circumstances. Last month, she was on the brink of a major scientific breakthrough when a stranger pops up into her lab, claiming that she is about to invent time travel, which might not be the best of all ideas. And he, Ivar, should know because he is an immortal time traveler. Naturally, our scientifically trained heroine takes this story with a grain of salt. Soon, though, they are being chased through the centuries, including an amusing skip through the Battle of Trafalgar. The beginning of issue #2 find the pair chilling in the swampy Southwest Pangean circa 300,000,000 BCE.
Van Lente uses this setting for some of the humor fans of his previous Valiant series, Archer & Armstrong, have come to expect from him. Ivar and Neela have an appealing dynamic together, naturally bantering back and forth. Neela keeps assuming that she knows all the basics of time travel (do not kill the slightest bug or you might end up with rain showers of donuts, you know that type of thing), only to have Ivar offer a contrary argument that time cannot be changed. In order to prove his point, he decides to take Neela to Vienna, 1909 to watch all the wannabe time adventurers attempt to earn their stripes by killing Hitler.
Time travel is shaping up to be one of the prominent motifs of the year. Already we have Ivar, Ei8ht; March will add Past Aways to the shelves. (This does not even count whatever role time-foolery will play in The Big Two’s upcoming events/reshufflings). With only two issues in, Ivar makes a strong case for standing out amongst this crowd. Van Lente continues to demonstrate a knack for blending serious beats with wacky humor. The characters are strong and the situations exciting. I look forward to seeing where this series jumps next.
by Fred Van Lente, Clayton Henry, Brian Reber
The Story: Doctor Neela Sethi is on the verge of making the most important discovery in the history of creation, though she doesn’t know it yet. Working in a lab in Switzerland, in 2015 she is stopped before she can begin by Ivar Anni-Padda. He warns her she is about to discover time travel. She immediately disregards him but he appears directly behind her pleading for her to listen, before they are attacked by gold-plated robots. Ivar garbs Neela and takes her on a frantic escape from what he calls the Prometheans, suicide attackers from the fifth-demension. After having a brief moment of rest, Ivar tells Neela he had to stop her from discovering time travel because a powerful evil is trying to recreate the Universe in its image; which is later revealed to be Neela in the far-far-far-distant future.
The Art: The art is pretty good in this issue; clean, expressive, and flowing mostly natural in carrying the plot. From what I’ve seen, Valiant excels in letting its artists have ample time to draw pages without having multiple inkers or other artists carry the load. I thought the panel composition could be busy in places, but have no major problems with the art.
Overall: I have no previous knowledge of Ivar, Timewalker; but here he comes across as a Doctor Who clone. He’s mysterious, uses fancy gadgets and dubious knowledge to accomplish his goals. The only difference I can see (besides not being an alien from what has been shown so far), is that Ivar seems to ignore the rules of time travel, if there are any. Neela constantly worries about stepping on a bug or saying something to someone that will cause a cascading disaster wave throughout time like in A Sound of Thunder. Neela herself speaks as though she belongs in a New York City coffee house, instead of a high level scientist working in Switzerland. I’ll give props for making a person of color someone of importance to the plot and having an important career. I enjoyed reading this issue, and the reveal was surprising enough to bring me back next month. I’m interested in seeing what Van Lente and Henry do to top themselves, and what craziness Ivar will get up to.
Rating: Poor, Fair, Good, Great, Excellent