Ivar, Time Walker is another well-done Valiant Comics revival. First arc Making History is now available in a collected edition.
Ivar is usually the least prominent of the three Anni-Pada brothers in the Valiant Universe. Younger sibs Armstrong (of Archer & Armstrong) and Eternal Warrior tend to enjoy more prominence. After several appearances in Archer & Armstrong, time gadabout Ivar graduated to his own title.
Making History does a decent job of introducing Ivar for those unfamiliar with him. The eldest of three immortal brothers, he possesses a “time compass” that allows him to calculate where and when “timearcs” will open up. Basically, windows through time and space that allow Ivar to travel across centuries.
Making History sees Ivar intercepting researcher Neela Sethi just before she completes an experiment that would “invent” time travel. Ivar struggles to convince Neela to trust him, just as Prometheans (robot soldiers from the end of time) attack. Ivar and Neela skip across time as he explains that the Prometheans work for Oblivi-1, a sentient city at the end of time that seeks to remake the past in its twisted image.
Ivar brings Neela to the early 20th century to demonstrate how the timestream “protects” itself from being altered. Specifically, with the first thing that all neophyte time travelers try to do: kill Hitler. There’s a good reason that Ivar tries to impress that lesson on Neela. The duo separates when Neela believes Ivar is manipulating her. A tragedy from Neela’s past points toward her own connection to Oblivi-1.
Key Valiant writer Fred Van Lente is at the helm of Ivar, Time Walker and immediately sets an entertaining sci-fi/swashbuckling tone. Van Lente does a decent job of setting up the mechanics of Ivar’s ability to navigate time without getting too deep into the nature of the timearcs themselves. He also introduced various bits of futuristic tech that explain how Ivar manages to operate smoothly in a variety of time periods. And he gleefully explodes various tropes from other time travel stories with which fans will be familiar.
Although he’s the title character, Ivar remains something of an enigma by the end of the first arc. Fans of Archer & Armstrong will have a bit more background on the character, but Van Lente takes his time unfolding Ivar’s secrets in his own series. Instead, Neela takes more of the spotlight and proves to be a rather compelling co-star. Her intelligence and exasperation make her both relatable and a logical pivot for a lot of the plot action. Van Lente sets up some very effective dilemmas for Neela that drive Making History and set up the arc to follow. With a lot of humor and an adventurous spirit, Van Lente makes Ivar, Time Walker an entertaining adventure, even if the book’s star could stand to be more prominent.
Another Valiant staple, Clayton Henry, handles the art for the first arc (with assists from Robert Gil and Francis Portela and with Brian Reber on colors). Henry has a clean, dynamic style that works well with Ivar’s widescreen aesthetic. He infuses energy into the action sequences and comes up with some clever layouts and visual riffs to sell the time travel adventure. It’s crisp, classic work that suits the material. If there’s a minor quibble, it’s that a time-skipping plot should provide more opportunity for an artist to cut loose, so Henry’s restraint is a tad curious. But overall, the title looks good.
Ivar might be a tougher sell than some of Valiant’s other offerings mostly because it’s heavily serialized and depends on some knowledge of the lead character’s family tree to be truly effective. Van Lente’s leisurely approach to revealing Ivar to viewers might not be everyone’s cup of tea, either. Overall, though, the series is a respectable addition to Valiant’s line that continues to expand its stylistic borders.
Originally published at thunderalleybcpcom.ipage.com on June 22, 2015.