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The Short Version
Stan Lee and Mark Waid combine to tell an action packed story with plenty of charm and wit. Artist Chad Hardin shines as a star artist in Boom!’s growing stable of talent.
The Long Version
If you liked Soldier Zero, then you may be amazed by the premier issue of the Traveler. We begin with a Mom leaving the DMV. She’s attacked by one of the Split-Second Men as he pops out of a bank clock. With his control over Electromagnetic fields he’s able to control metal, radiation; basically he’s a bad dude to have to deal with.
Luckily for our Mom in distress, the Traveler comes to her rescue. In typically Stan Lee form, he likes to talk a lot. Whereas other Lee creations use their mouth to hide their fear, the Traveler uses his to calm the person he’s saving. In this case our Mom in the wrong place at the wrong time. The Traveler explains everything that he’s doing, from his powers, to his enemies, he’s full disclosure. After a few minutes he’s defeated the Split-Second Man and sends him back to his era (where ever that may be). The saved Mother thanks him and inadvertently gives him the name Kronas, just before he breaks her new glasses.
Kronas returns to what could possibly be his own time to clear his head and think about of his new name (given to him from a chewed up badge he wears on his suit). It’s clear that there is something more to badge and to Kronas himself. Soon after another Split-Second Man attacks, sending Kronas back into action. This Split-Second Man goes by the name Splinter and he’s able to dissolve… well just about anything. He’s attacked the bus driver’s bus, because he was 5 minutes late on his route. Again, Kronas is full disclosure revealing that there are four elements that can time travel and that really this is only the tip of the ice-berg.
There are two layers of story to grasp in this issue. There’s the surface level story, which is time traveling hero saves people from time traveling villains while explaining his powers to the readers. Then there’s the deeper layer full of subtext and mystery and all its unexplained mysteries. Why Kronas is saving these particular people, why are they being attacked by people from the future. Or better yet, why did he break the Mom’s glasses? Kronas seems to have deeper knowledge and connections to the people that he saves.
Waid does, what Waid does… tell a great and interesting story. It’s an understatement to say that he’s one of the best writers in the business. Really he’s in a class of his own when it comes to sheer volume of stories told that are classic. This is another one of those stories. The great thing is that this book doesn’t just come off as a superhero story, nor does it come off as “typical Waid”. This story and idea stand completely on their own with solid inspiration from the super hero genre. You won’t find any subtle references to another character’s powers or origin; it’s through and through original.
The biggest relief is the solid and wonderful art from Chad Hardin. It would not matter how good the writing was, or how original the character was if the art didn’t match the quality. Hardin’s style is the perfect fit for the issue, with his thick lines and fully detailed panels. You will be hard pressed to find a shadow covering a characters face/body. Hardin does an amazing job of filling each panel with enough details to make the page feel alive. The colorist, Blond, keeps with the high standard of art by using a bright and solid color pallet. The color perfectly plays to the strengths of Hardin’s art which really makes the issue pop.
If you take this issue at just the surface level, it’s a good issue that’s worthy of purchase. But if you go deeper and see the layers of mystery that Waid and company are building, then you will find a great issue that may be worth picking up all seven covers for. If Soldier Zero’s success is any indication of how well the Traveler will sell, then I think that Boom! may have their new best seller.
Overall Score – 10/10