Ivar, Timewalker #9
By Fred Van Lente, Pere Perez, Andrew Dalhouse, and Dave Sharpe
You break it, you buy it. Yes, even if “it” happens to be the fabric of alterniverse space time itself. Okay, especially if “it” is that. Ivar, Timewalker #9 is one of the strongest issues to date and one that reinvigorates the adventure spirit with a mix of truly laugh out loud moments. Cleverly calling back to both its own first issue and Archer & Armstrong #1, this issue is all about polar role reversals and in addition to being genuinely charming, it’s also surprisingly rich with satire and inanity. Seriously, if you don’t love everything about Clown Vikings, you are doing comics wrong.
Bursting into his life mere moments before he’s about to perform his greatest achievement, Neela nabs a young Ivar Anni-Padda and takes him on a raucous romp through time in order to prevent the annihilation of everything there ever was and everything there could have been, no matter how so very dumb they may be. Oh, and also, she missed him, okay? Completing reversing the roles they played in the first issue, Van Lente’s script is paced beautifully and hilariously here as what is ostensibly an issue centered around a conversation while on a walk becomes about what it means to change.
Neela is back in full quippy and endearing force and she’s obviously come a long way since that very confusing moment when a charming time arc hopping gentleman snagged her seconds before she could invent time travel. Since then she’s witnessed impossible so often as to consider it routine and more importantly she’s experienced the impossible from the other perspective. Now she knows what it is to be subject to certain laws and the prices that are paid when they’re cheated with a little too closely. She knows why withholding information, even from those she cares about, is sometimes necessary. She also knows this time travel crap almost never works out the way you want it to.
Van Lente flashes us back to Ivar’s greatest triumph/failure in order to demonstrate how much he’s grown (or not) and to provide the frustratingly funny contrast to Neela’s experience. He’s arrogant as ever and instead of being completely boggled over these near unimaginable metaphysical events, he rapidly gets caught up and gains a thorough understanding of all that’s transpiring. His bountiful brilliance aside, he’s certainly lacking in social graces. The point is that this is an Ivar from a very specific moment in his life where he was in desperate need of atonement; of reversing a grave error that he caused. Every action causes a shift and sometimes that’s the death of loved ones, sometimes it’s the gradual destruction of everything, and sometimes it’s an opportunity to learn. We’ve made history, we’ve broken history, and now we’re at the end of history. At some point these thoroughly rounded characters will undoubtedly have to accept history.
Bright, buoyant, and blissfully bizarre, Pere Perez and Andrew Dalhouse deliver one of the best looking issues of Ivar to date. Perez’ figure work and facial features are wonderfully animated, with a lifted brow or mouth agape doing heavy storytelling lifting. Amidst the chaos, there’s some stellar design work at play in regards to both the lush and imaginative locales as well as the semi-monstrosities that inhabit them. Perez controls the story beats with ease, allowing for those big reveals to hit with maximum breadth and keeps the panel layouts smartly conventional when necessary and dynamically rigid at other moments. It’s never stiff, and combines a nice mix of multiple grid structures and splash pages with overlapping panels; all of which adds up to a natural breeze of a read. Perez injects a bouncy life into his figures and balances it with sharply detailed settings that contain plenty of gags, made possible by his keen eye for comedic beats.
Staying lock step with the established thematic tone, Andrew Dalhouse’s colors are vivid and fresh throughout. Nothing is overwrought, there’s no excess of digital effects or unnecessary shadowing on skin and muscle tones. Instead, Dalhouse keeps it a lively affair that balances pastoral settings with subtle texturing on garments and pueblo stadiums and dinosaurs atop dinosaurs. Yes, you read that right. Gradient backgrounds are handled well enough, and the saturated palette of rich primaries ensures a snap, crackle and a pop of a visual treat.
This is Ivar, Timewalker at its best: touching, humorous, sharp, and above all, fun. Things are dire, but that doesn’t mean they need to be DIRE! Hand-in-hand with a renewed sense of adventure and delightfully sharp dialogue from Van Lente, there’s also the best damn commentary on exploiting the imagery of indigenous people in the name of sports mascots that is about as subtle as Ivar’s pick-up lines and provides perfect perspective. Reversing roles is the name of the game this issue, in more ways than one. Perspectives shift, change is inevitable, and learning to accept what can and cannot be altered in time and ourselves is questioned. What’s next? If it’s up to the creative team, it might be this:
— Fred Van Lente (@fredvanlente) August 24, 2015
May God have mercy on our souls.