Indie Comics Spotlight: Ivar Timewalker, Burning Fields, Reyn

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By: Jonathan Pilley (@omnicomic)


Ivar, Timewalker #1

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“Seventy-fifth-century antigrav pads. Pretty sweet, huh?”

Being able to time-travel is something that everyone dreams about, but no one really knows how to do it. It’s a gift and a curse if it ever is settled, as there are immense benefits and drawbacks to it if achieved. Having someone along for the ride who’s been around the time-traveling block a few times is always a good thing. That’s where Ivar comes in as the main character of Ivar, Timewalker #1 from Valiant Entertainment. The issue is written by Fred Van Lente, illustrated by Clayton Henry, colored by Brian Reber and lettered by Dave Sharpe.

Doctor Neela Sethi is on the verge of something special–she’s about to create time travel. That seems like just the groundbreaking discovery a physicist like Dr. Sethi would want, until Ivar, Timewalker shows up and directly influences her decision not to make the discovery. From there, the duo travel through time and space, visiting various locales and taking in the time-sensitive sights. Mix in Prometheans–artificial suicide life from the Fifth dimension–and you’ve got an adventurous tale that doesn’t hold back.

Ivar is a little bit on the arrogant side, briskly moving through stops in history without really thinking twice about his presence there. Van Lente infuses Ivar with the right level of cockiness mixed with self-awareness, knowing when he is and trying to make decisions that fit within the previously established narrative of that point in time. He usually knows the best thing to do in any situation, relying on an innate cunning to see him through it relatively unscathed. Dr. Sethi is the complete opposite, with Van Lente balancing her intelligence with a millenial mindset of sorts. Her interactions with Ivar provide a lot of the happy-go-lucky dynamic between the two, something that’s riffing off of Archer and Armstrong.

Henry’s illustrations are crisp and clean, leaving out unnecessary details. He works well with Van Lente and the book fits perfectly into the aforementioned Archer and Armstrong universe with an emphasis on action. Henry rather seamlessly blends together the varying time periods, ensuring that each stands on its own yet feels like part of the larger whole. The book has a sheen to it that reflects its more futuristic sensibilities as well. Panels are laid out in largely familiar grids, save for a few pages where there are insets popping here and there for emphasis on the action on the page.

Ivar, Timewalker #1 offers a very intriguing main character paired with someone of a non-believer. The dynamic between the two is amusing and enlightening, propelling the story along with the development of the characters’ relationship. Van Lente knows how to craft a fast-paced tale that offers enough to keep the reader interested without giving away too much. Henry’s illustrations are familiar to Valiant fans and does the writing justice, portraying a world full of different eras and looks. Ivar, Timewalker #1 is a lot of fun and another strong entry in the Valiant Universe worth checking out.

Ivar, Timewalker #1 is in stores now.

Burning Fields #1

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“This is the moment where my interest is supposed to be piqued, right?”

While the world in general is in turmoil, there’s a good bit of it focused on the Middle East. Most of it surrounds the oil generated there, but there’s plenty of political and combat aspects to the region that make it a hotbed of activity. Using that as a backdrop is Burning Fields #1 from BOOM! Studios. The issue is written by Michael Moreci and Tim Daniel, illustrated by Colin Lorimer, colored by Joana Lafuente and lettered by Jim Campbell.

Dana Atkinson, a dishonorably discharged army investigator, is pulled back to the Middle East when a group of American oil technicians disappear under bizarre circumstances. With the help of an Iraqi investigator, what Dana discovers is unimaginable: a series of unusual incidents at the drill site lead her and her unlikely ally to discover a mythic evil that has been released, one that threatens both the lives of the entire region and the fragile peace that exists.

Burning Fields #1 feels a lot longer than it actually is, mostly owing to all the set-up featured in the first issue. It opens and closes with some rather graphic imagery that shows the world isn’t exactly a nice place and Moreci and Daniel doesn’t really pull any punches in that regard. In between, Moreci and Daniel present a world that’s a stark reminder of the tumultuous environment in the Middle East right now. The writers rely on that real-world aspect of the story to reinforce the details of the book without spending too much time on it, giving them more time to focus on other aspects of the story. There are complexities surround Dana and her new “friends,” the tenseness of which is on full display as early as the reader’s first encounter with her.

From the opening pages, the reader is quickly made aware that Lorimer isn’t being shy about the subject matter. Burning Fields #1 looks to delve into the evil that comes with corruption and terrorism and Lorimer relies on shadowy illustrations to achieve that end. Most of the book focuses on the facial expressions of the characters in a way that visually solidifies the emotion at that point in the story. Gutters move from black to white depending on the setting and in the cases where they’re black, there’s a certain solitude conveyed. Lafeunte’s colors are bold and dark, leaving little room for interpretation as to the innocence of the characters.

Burning Fields #1 aims to be something of a political thriller with a bit of violence mixed in; think of it as Syriana meets Se7en. Dana as a lead character has something of a troubled past, enough of which is revealed in the first issue that she makes for a rather complex character. Moreci and Daniel’s story in the first issue starts off slow to get people in position, but then starts to move downhill much faster. Lorimer’s illustrations are rife with grunge and effectively portray the events in a light that shines with guilt and evil. Burning Fields #1 offers a lot in terms of a first issue and looks to be going in a very ambitious yet dark direction.

Burning Fields #1 is in stores now.

Reyn #1

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“Seriously, I could use a break here.”

Heroes of legend are just that: legend. Their tales are told throughout history, giving them a certain status that makes them both feared and revered. Sometimes though, the reality doesn’t match up to the legend and people are treated to someone less than a hero. Someone like Reyn in Reyn #1 from Image Comics. The book is written by Kel Symons, illustrated by Nate Stockman, colored by Paul Little and lettered by Pat Brosseau.

Reyn is a freelance swordsman and monster hunter who also might be the last of the legendary “Wardens” of the land of Fate, whose ranks long since faded into myth. Haunted and driven by visions from a “guiding angel,” Reyn sets out on a great quest—though he’s hardly the errant knight-type. Along the way he’ll rescue and partner with the sorceress Seph, a member of a coven known as the Followers of Tek, hunted as heretics for their beliefs, but who may also know what secrets Fate holds.

Reyn #1 offers a very straightforward premise that doesn’t get bogged down in the minutia of a new universe. Symons offers up action within the first few panels that establishes Reyn as a fierce warrior and sets up his backstory as a Warden. From there, the book simply follows Reyn as he travels the countryside, encountering some who want to hurt him, some who want to join him and some who fear him. Reyn’s personality is arrogant and bold, courtesy of Symons characterizing him through brisk interactions with those he isn’t fighting. Seph is something of a firecracker and her more “modest” approach to life is a sobering contrast to Reyn’s more forceful take on things.

For Reyn #1, the tone of the book is somewhere between Monty Python and Conan. Stockman achieves that, offering a look that’s cartoonish at points in terms of exaggerating some of the character appearances. Reyn himself is square-jawed and brawny, more than capable of holding his own against any enemy; whether it’s a massive monster or a battalion of guards. Seph looks a lot younger but just as fierce and other characters like Mythall have a lizard-like appearance that makes him look menacing. Stockman relies on a myriad of different panel layouts as well, peppering insets throughout the more traditional layouts that keep the pages feeling varied.

Reyn #1 has a lot of fun with the somewhat familiar sword and sorcery book. It doesn’t rely too heavily on either though, instead parlaying a brash and selfish character in Reyn into a story about a legend long forgotten. Symons’ pacing is steady throughout, offering the right mix of battle and story that effectively introduces the reader to the universe he’s creating. Stockman presents characters with life who represent a bold and dangerous world for them to play in. Reyn #1 doesn’t take itself too seriously but clearly has grander ambitions in mind, promising to make for what is expected to be a fun series.

Reyn #1 is in stores now.


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