- Writer: Fred Van Lente
- Pencillers: Clayton Henry
- Inks: Clayton Henry & BIT
- Colours: Brian Reber & Andrew Dalhouse
- Letters: Dave Sharpe
- Publisher: Valiant Comics
- Release Date: 18 Mar 2015
Ivar, Timewalker continues to be completely delightful. Don’t get me wrong, it deals with some heavy themes and content, but creators Fred Van Lente (script) and Clayton Henry (penciller), together with colourist Brian Reber, are such masterful story-tellers that it’s just a complete joy to read the continuing adventures of Neela and Ivar… even if that means reading about horrific torture practices of Nazis during World War II.
Yep, you read that right. The last issue saw our time-travelling duo head back to try and kill Hitler, which is an informal initiation into the practice of time-travelling because for some reason, everyone tries it. Unfortunately, Neela and Ivar lose the device they use to track time portals to a future internet troll and the ensuing chase leads them right into the heart of Nazi territory. Neela is separated from Ivar, and caught by Nazis–only to find Ivar is her interrogator!
Well, not quite, as we find out in the opening pages of this issue. It’s actually Ivar’s scarred brother, Gilad. He’s apparently got his own mission to deal with, but he does have a little exchange with Neela that is so filled with wonderful tension that my little shipper heart is a-flutter (no regrets).
We say goodbye to him too quickly, but not before he gives Neela a weapon. It seems likely we’ll see him again, and I look forward to it, because there is obviously some weird history between him and Ivar. And of course, he knows a lot more about the mysterious Ivar than we or Neela do.
Speaking of which, where is Ivar, anyway? This is where things get graphic, both in the art and dialogue. Two Nazis have him in a separate interrogation room, trying out a truly horrific torture device which I will refrain from describing here. Suffice to say it’s brutal workings are matched by an equally brutal history.
Neela is horrified by the breezy way they talk about murder, even while laughingly torturing Ivar, and something in her snaps. But she’s a scientist with no combat training, and all she has is the gun Gilad gave her. All she can do to help the only friend she has in this time and place, is to use it. A chilling moment follows as one of them begs for mercy : “Please… my family…” and Neela hesitates.
As a reader, seeing this transformation of a person gleefully inflicting torture to begging when they’re in the vulnerable position is both fascinatng and stomach-turning. Props to the creative team for not flinching at depicting the horrors of Nazi Germany, while also not turning them into caricatures.
What’s a girl to do? Neela does the only thing she feels like she can do: she takes the kill shot. And throws up right after. Again, it’s another painfully human moment in a comic where nothing is easy or straightforward.
But the day is not over. While Ivar recovers from his ordeal, Neela has to hunt down the compass that will help them resume their time-travelling adventures. This leads to a confrontation with a roomful of Nazis… and a funny scene as she realises that nope, no one there is a Nazi. Everyone is a time-traveller. The Prometheans choose that time to show up and ruin the joke, unfortunately. Neela manages to get her hands on the compass, and takes a time portal out of there, but two Prometheans still track her down.
They don’t want to kill her, though. On the contrary, they want to save her from Ivar. We know from the first issue that the master they serve is in fact a future!cybernetic!badass!Neela, so this isn’t a surprise to the reader, but Neela is suspicious and wary. She doesn’t trust these strange creatures, but they say enough to make her even more suspicious of Ivar. “You can still save Anish,” are their parting words, and this is the seminal moment we’ve been building towards.
Because all along, Ivar has been trying to convince Neela that history can’t be changed. But Neela realises it can, and she can still save Anish, her father who died when she was younger. And she heads off to do exactly that, leaving Ivar behind. With that, the issue ends on another tantalising cliffhanger.
So, what’s the deal? We know that Ivar isn’t above murder. Neela saw it for herself in issue #1. We know he has a family of time-travellers. We know that his relationship with Neela goes severely downhill, but that he cares for her, because he says, after Neela rescues him from torture, “I’ll always love you”. Much to Neela’s shock and surprise, because to her mind, she’s only known him for a short while.
It’s little touches like these which drive home that yes indeed, we are in the full throes of a time-travelling story, and all it entails. Particularly the philosophical and moral issues, which are hard to discuss in a review, but which I would say are just as important to the story as Neela’s entire journey.
If I haven’t mentioned the art specifically, it’s only because it’s so tied up with Fred Van Lente’s script in how the story-telling unfolds. This is such as jam-packed book, plot wise, full of both humour and intense drama, but Henry’s art keeps up the pace and high emotion of every single moment. The expression and body language on the many various characters who pop up (including Hitler himself and strange time-travelling folk from all over time and space) are given as much attention as the backgrounds, and the action scenes–even the seemingly straightforward moment where Neela falls to her knees and vomits after killing two Nazis–are dynamic and easy to follow.
Ivar, Timewalker continues to be a gem. Each issue is more gripping than the next, with a deft balance between discussing morality and philosophy while also pushing the emotional journeys of the characters forward. With a hefty dose of humour, thoughtfulness and action, of course. I absolutely can’t wait for the next issue.
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