With the comics industry slowly returning from the pandemic, Brendan Allen and I are taking the opportunity to introduce each other to comics that the other might not have read. I’m more of a capes, laser guns and swords guy, while Brendan loves dark magic, criminals and things that go bump in the night. This week we take on time travel hijinks in one of Valiant’s most underrated offerings.
One of the foundations of the Valiant universe is the Immortal Brothers- Gilad, Ivar and Aram Anni-Padda. Each of the three are key heroes on their own, but together they have touched every corner of the publisher’s universe. However, the one who’s probably had the least revealed about his past is Ivar, the star of Ivar, Timewalker by Fred Van Lente, Clayton Henry, Robert Gill, Brian Reber, Bit, Andrew Dalhouse, Francis Portela, and Dave Sharpe.
When a mysterious stranger shows up on Doctor Neela Sethi’s doorstep, she’s drawn into an incredible adventure. You see, Neela is the person who invents time travel. And Ivar Anni-Padda is the only man who can protect her from the consequences of her discovery.
Tony Thornley: You have been wanting to talk about a Doctor Who comic since the moment we started this column. We just have not been able to find the right one. However, I think this book more than satisfied that itch, at least for a little while. What did you think?
Brendan Allen: It was fun. I felt like it was taking a good hard poke at my favorite time travel series, but by the nature of the thing, you kind of have to take on all the tropes to get established, don’t you?
TT: Oh definitely. I mean, you didn’t say it directly, but this is very much a superhero Doctor Who. And it really captures that feel.
This series is also a bit of a sequel to one of our earlier picks- Archer & Armstrong. It reunites the creative team, and features a sister story to that narrative. I don’t think I’ve read anything with the Immortal Brothers I disliked, but Ivar is interesting. We really don’t get much about him, especially not his modern self, before this series.
And of course when we meet him, he’s a loveable jerk, which Van Lente always writes so well.
BA: Well, yeah, he is, and by the end of this volume, it still isn’t clear whether he’s on the level or not. I think that was the case in the last one we did as well. You kind of have to pick a side and go with it. See where the chips fall.
TT: Yeah, definitely. Which (spoiler alert) actually stays that way the entire series. Ivar is never really fully the protagonist of the story (that would be Neela) and never fully a villain, but Van Lente gives him layers of nuance.
BA: The plot to (not) kill Hitler is pretty ingenious. That is one of the first things people go to with time travel stories. Having all those novice time travelers in one place at one time was one of the things that made me laugh out loud in this piece.
TT: Oh yeah, it’s a very funny story as a whole, but that issue in particular was great.
The series has a few artists, but the main one is Clayton Henry (drawing at least two-thirds of this first arc). I don’t think he really gets his due as one of the best artists in comics for humor. He’s got a great sense of timing, but he also does some really solid action cartooning too.
BA: The art’s cool. Transitions between periods isn’t jarring at all, even though the eras are pretty accurately represented. Ivar’s mullet is a clever touch. Doesn’t really feel out of place in any of the periods they visit. Bad fashion choices sort of transcend.
TT: Oh for sure, and that’s one of the spots where it really resembles Doctor Who. Ivar feels a lot like the modern Doctors in both how he acts and his design. It’s kind of cheeky.
BA: Bow ties are cool.
TT: EXACTLY. I like this one. It’s a lighter read than Archer & Armstrong or any of the Eternal Warrior stories, but it finally fleshes out Ivar, tells a fun adventure story, and generally looks great. What did you think?
BA: You know, I liked it. I don’t know if I’d pull it, but it’s a fun story. The setup is quick and dirty, but it works. Leans heavily into time traveler tropes (Come with me if you want to live!), but in a sort of self aware, satirical way. Good storytelling. Good art. Good comics. Well played.
TT: Very cool. I think you’d probably enjoy the rest of the series- it’s three story arcs, then it’s done. Maybe we’ll revisit it in the future, especially since this volume ended on a cliffhanger. So, what are we looking at next?
BA: There’s a book I had planned for the beginning of October, before we decided to do a whole month of horror. We’ll be taking on Image Comics’ Crowded Vol.1, by Christopher Sebela, Ro Stein, Ted Brandt, Trionna Farrell, and Cardinal Rae. Fantastically dark, shockingly light, and all kinds of murdery. It’s one of my all time favorite non-horror titles.
Ivar, Timewalker V1: Making History is available now in single issues and collected editions from Valiant Entertainment, both in print and digital editions.
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