Fred Van Lente Steps Back in History with "Ivar, Timewalker"

Flying through time with a flourish, Ivar Anni-Padda has lived through a thousand lifetimes. The third brother to Armstrong and The Eternal Warrior spends his time -- which he has a lot of -- moving back and forth though history, witnessing events from the start right through to the end of time. And in Valiant Entertainment's January-launching series "Ivar, Timewalker," he'll be setting off on a whole new adventure thanks to the creative team of Fred Van Lente and Clayton Henry.

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It all starts when Ivar meets scientist Neela Sethi, who works on the Large Hadron Collider -- and before he knows what's happening he's in a race to stop the past, present and future from colliding into one another. Promising a series high on action and romance, Van Lente spoke to CBR News about what sorts of timey-wimey strangeness will be getting in the way of our immortal hero -- and how Neela will change Ivar's life forever.

CBR News: Since time travel is something familiar to comic book readers -- and especially long time Valiant readers -- can you set up your story in "Ivar, Timewalker" for us?

Fred Van Lente: The roguish Ivar Anni-Padda is known as the "Forever Walker" among other time travelers -- because of a dark incident in his (actual) past, he's forced to wander from time period to time period, never to call a single era home.

Until he intervenes in the personal history of CERN physicist Neela Sethi, who, unbeknownst to her, is persuaded by killers from the end of the universe because she is about to invent a form of time travel that can also be used as a devastating weapon. Hoping to turn her discovery against his enemies, Ivar leads Neela on a desperate adventure from the Big Bang to the Big Crunch -- and by saving space/time, save himself as well.

Were you a fan of the past version of the series, "Timewalker," which came out in the prior Valiant Universe?

I hadn't read at the time, but having read the original runs of much of the Valiant 1.0 books, I've got to say Bob Hall and Don Perlin's run on "Timewalker" is my favorite OG title -- except for the Barry Windsor-Smith "Archer & Armstrong."

The idea of returning "Ivar, Timewalker" seems to have been planned for a while -- specifically, in issue #15 of "Archer and Armstrong," which almost feels like a testing of the waters for the character. Was that story what got you interested in following through with Ivar and continuing on to this new series?

Oh, yeah, the across-history pub crawl Armstrong and his older brother, Ivar, go on was one of my favorites of that run, and the ideas planted here -- Ivar name drops "sentient cities" and "Prometheans" -- both elements that turn up in "Ivar, Timewalker."

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That issue in particular has become a fan-favorite, and it certainly seemed like one you were really enjoying. Will this new series have a similar kind of tone to that issue, or "Archer and Armstrong" as a whole?

It's pretty different, I think. With the presence of Neela there's a lot more of a romance angle, and while "A&A" focused on comedy -- and there's comedy here -- this is really a mega-budget action/adventure across space and time. There's a lot of snappy patter, but both of our leads have tragic aspects to their lives, and we won't shy away from exploring those, either.

Ivar is one of the three brothers who form a curious trinity within the Valiant Universe: Armstrong and The Eternal Warrior being the other two. What's your take on Ivar's personality in this book?

I write Ivar like he's a combination of Reed Richards and John Constantine. He's a super-science genius but also a complete bastard! You can count on him to save the universe (maybe), but he's also willing to ruin the lives of everyone around him in the process.

Clayton Henry's artwork for the series shows an altogether more dapper look for the character than was seen in his appearances in "Archer and Armstrong." Should we expect a pretty in-control, calm hero here, or is he winging it as time keeps slipping all around him?

He's a real rogue, and while that's attractive to people, Neela needs to be careful of what he's not telling her.

You've been collaborating with Clayton for ages now -- since "Incredible Hercules" over at Marvel, I think. How has the collaborative process changed over the years? Are you both pretty in-sync with each other as storytellers, now?

Clayton and I were talking about this at this year's New York Comic Con, and we figured out the first thing we did together was the Alpha Flight issue of "Wolverine: First Class." He's been one of my favorite collaborators ever since. We talk over the scripts a lot on the phone; it's a very tight working relationship.

What does he bring to a comic when you work together? What do you most like about his artwork?

He's just so expressive, and his action so dramatic, and his clean line is the kind of thing that I really get into.

This first issue introduces a new character, Neela Sethi, who you mentioned will play an important role. What's their relationship like?

Neela is a brilliant physicist whose life has been shaped by a devastating tragedy involving a family member when she was in her formative years. And now this guy shows up on her doorstep and tells her that her future is in jeopardy as well. So this is not a good day for Neela. She's whipsmart, doesn't take fools gladly, and is a bit out of sorts not being the cleverest person in the room.

But she's a quick study and as Ivar shows her the ropes of time travel, she's tempted to go back and change her own history -- but is that what puts all of creation in such jeopardy?

What was the design/creation process like for her? What did you want to convey with the character?

The description of her in the script is pretty simple -- "a pretty, bespectacled Indian scientist," to quote verbatim -- and it's a testament to Clayton's skills that he gave her that character and expression in the first few panels she appears in.

The book also plays to another recurring interest of yours: history and mythology. The book will be going both backward and forward through time. Are there any periods of time you're particularly interested in heading to?

The second issue is entitled "Let's Kill Hitler!" I'm looking forward to heading to the trenches of World War I and the cafes of Vienna. But killing Hitler is harder than it looks, thanks to Stephen Hawking's "Chronology Protection Conjecture."

This is the first book that could, hypothetically, join up every thread in the Valiant Universe. Ivar could head across to find "Rai" in the future, for example, or go back in time to see his brothers. Is that a concept that interests you, at all?

Indeed, in fact, we're doing some of that in the very first issue...

How do you feel "Ivar, Timewalker" fits within the Valiant Universe as a whole? What sets the book apart, to your mind, and what are you most excited about with the series?

I think the whole feel of it, with the star-crossed romance angle of it, the high adventure, the amazing art, just makes it a great, fun science fiction adventure and fits right in with the rest of Valiant's great genre-crossed titles.

"Ivar, Timewalker" debuts in January from Valiant Entertainment."

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