The “time travel” genre is a genre which often can be confusing or mired in techno-babble, yet often the greatest stories which utilize it boil things down to their simplest elements. The “Back to the Future” trilogy is beloved for accomplishing such a feat. And in a similar way, so has this run on “Ivar, Timewalker” as written by Fred Van Lente. With Pere Perez once again aboard on art and Andrew Dalhouse covering the colors, this penultimate issue to this latest arc (and run) succeeds by boiling everything down to its base elements. The end result is an utterly brilliant time loop paradox with a tale of star crossed (if not time crossed) lovers at its center.
The series began with Ivar Anni-Padda rescuing Dr. Neela Sethi just as she invented the means to travel through time in an attempt to save her from her greatest enemy – herself (literally in the form of her future counterpart). At first confusing the woman, she ultimately feel for his wit and charm, just at the moment where he seemingly sacrificed himself to save all of creation. Having decided to invent time travel to save someone she loved, Neela set out to return the favor by plucking a version of Ivar from pre-history to mold into the man she knew. Unfortunately, their mad cap journey through one bizarre alternate timelines came to an end last issue, where it seemed like the forces of nihilism (“the Null”) had prevailed. Left outside of time, the pair only have a short time to be together before triggering the end-game.
As stated in nearly every previous review, Fred Van Lente’s greatest skill as a writer is being able to shift gears from slapstick comedy to downright tragedy all within one page without the greater work being compromised. This issue serves as a perfect example of this, as what begins as yet another hilarious glimpse at an alternate timeline soon gives way to something profoundly sad. Ivar and Neela are akin to passing ships across of reality, and despite their longing for each other and love for each other at various points, their destinies seem to cross against each other despite both of their best efforts. Both of their efforts to alter time itself have only caused such actions to come to pass. Left with nothing else but his desire to avenge his beloved, it soon seems that only Ivar and a dinosaur-person are all that is left against the forces of oblivion. Van Lente’s zeal for comedy makes it easy to underestimate his skill as a writer, but it is a skill which always reveals itself in the end to give his work extra punch where a reader least expects it. If one thinks “Romeo & Juliet” had it rough, they haven’t seen anything like Ivar and Neela.
Pere Perez and Andrew Dalhouse are on a absolute tear in terms of art. From the beginning splashes of endless “bubble worlds” showcasing hints of potential towards every page becoming more simple and focused on the pair, this issue is a feast for the eyes. Heavy use of black shadows at the right time set the perfect mood for the climax of the issue. Much of the attention to detail may remind some readers of the legendary George Perez himself, a comparison which is quite deserved.
Slipping under the radar next to series such as “Doctor Who”, this has easily been one of the greatest time travel stories told in comic books in many years. Serving ample mixes of humor, imagination, romance, and tragedy, its grand finale next month is shaping up to be the thing of legends and among one of the best finales Fred Van Lente may have written. He and Valiant Entertainment have been great for each other, and one hopes that next month’s twelfth issue isn’t the end of such a union. At its heart, “Ivar, Timewalker” has been about accepting the tragedies and rewards of life head on rather than seek to “cheat” and alter them, for in doing so you lose out on much of what makes life worth living. Such a tale works in any time, and it will be amazing to see quite how “Ivar, Timewalker” wraps it all up in December. If one hasn’t jumped aboard the series yet, ComicBlitz, ComiXology, or trade collections are a great place to start. After all, one has all the time in the world.