After making it through the first few issues of “Ivar, Timewalker” just in the nick of time, the next arc sees things get a whole lot more dangerous for Ivar and Neela, as time begins to run out on them both. Starting with Issue #5, Fred Van Lente and incoming artist Francis Portela join forces for a new storyline called “Breaking History” which seems set on hurling everything imaginable at the pair. Warring brothers! Space armies! Amelia Earhart! They’re all a part of Van Lente and Portela’s plans.
Now, as Neela attempts to deal with being somewhat kidnapped by a future version of herself and Ivar tries to get his sparring brothers Gilad and Armstrong to work alongside one another, CBR News spoke with Van Lente about what else we can expect from the next part of the story — and how the tricksy Ivar plans on dealing with everything he’s up against.
CBR News: This next storyline is called “Breaking History” — but isn’t history set in stone, as Doc Brown taught us? How can it be broken?
Fred Van Lente: Doc Brown is wrong! As we took pains to explain in “Making History,” the first arc, the universe is governed by something Stephen Hawking has dubbed “Chronological Protection,” which prevents meddling by time travelers — unless, of course, Neela succeeds in making the mysterious discovery Ivar prevented her from making back in #1.
We’re starting to get more of an idea of what The Prometheans, who’re the ones chasing Ivar, are after. How are they stepping up their plan against Ivar and Neela for this arc?
Neela has her own reasons for trying to change history, to prevent the untimely death of her beloved father. So the Mistress of Prometheans — who claims to be her older self — has brought her to Oblivi-1, their impenetrable fortress at the End of Time, with a recreation of her lab, so she can figure out how to break Chronological Protection and change history. But the Prometheans” reasons for mucking with the timestream may be less benign than Neela’s.
She’s really stood out over the story so far — what do you like most about writing her? How has she developed, in ways both expected and unexpected?
She’s a terrific, fun character, a scientist who’s more like the scientists I’ve known (including my dad, a biochemist) than a lot of the one-size-fits-all geniuses you encounter in most comics. She’s funny, she’s smart, she’s got a hair-trigger temper and she gets the best lines in the series. What’s not to love?
Like a lot of things I’ve done where there’s a main hero/sidekick relationship — “Incredible Hercules” I guess most obviously — it’s really more of the sidekick’s story, if for no other reason than the sidekick character has a lot more room to grow, their arc is more interesting.
She’s also got to deal with the fact she’s just been kidnapped by a future version of herself. She’s already had quite a tragic past, so how is she dealing with this similarly upsetting look at her future?
Neela has decided she is going to save her dad at all costs, Ivar and the universe be damned. So she’s got a bit of tunnel vision at the moment, with both eyes focused on the prize, ignoring any distractions — including consequences.
On Ivar’s side, this storyline looks to have a bit of a “getting the gang back together” sort of feel to it — how is Ivar’s relationship with his brothers right now?
It’s always been contentious, and this arc is definitely a reflection of that.
I don’t think we’ve seen them together since their “golden age” centuries ago. They’ve all changed quite dramatically since then– sort of– so have you had to change the way you write them around one another? Or will reuniting have them “revert” back to form, somewhat?
Yeah, I have tried to update it somewhat, to take into account the difference in time. Gilad and Armstrong were both running around for centuries while Ivar was in prison, so they’ve had a lot more time to get on each other’s nerves. In ancient times, Aram was the peacemaker between Ivar always upbraiding Gilad.
Now that we’ve interjected time travel in the mix, we’ve got the ageless Ivar, a much older Gilad from the far, far future and Armstrong from the present. Gilad really can’t stand Armstrong — the eternal kid on his lawn — and Armstrong knows it, and loves to tweak him. So Ivar has to prevent these two from killing each other and ruining their mission — which is to rescue Neela from Oblivi-1, whether she wants to be or not.
Do you keep a rough timeline of events somewhere, for the three brothers?
Yeah, I mean it’s roughly laid out in broad strokes in my head. I think it’s all pretty consistent. But I’ve found you don’t want to be too stringent about these things — you don’t want a fear of the very small number of people who pick up on continuity errors close off interesting avenues for story that everyone can enjoy.
What do you think it changes about the book’s tone — and Ivar’s disposition — to go from being part of a duo to now being part of this ensemble team?
It’ll be the same mixture of comedy and tragedy you’ve seen since the start. That’s pretty much how I see life, though if you’re lucky you get a little bit more of the former of the latter.
Francis Portela joins the series with this issue. You’ve worked with him before, right?
Francis is the greatest! He did one of my first ever Marvel books, “M.O.D.O.K.’s 11,” and we collaborated on “Halo: Blood Line” together. His agent, David Macho, works with a lot of the Valiant artists and knows how much I love Francis, so as soon as I heard he was available for this arc, I jumped for it. For an arc set almost entirely in the far future, his sci-fi work is mind-blowing, and his expressions are great for our crazy banter.
With the story able to travel through time, do you try and block out a group of issues in advance? Do you set off with a start and an end already roughly in place, and points along the way you know you want to hit?
I’ve known the broad-strokes plan since the very beginning, with little side notes on the way. We work about four issues in advance to make sure solicits and covers get done in time.
There are so many different elements to the series right now — there’s a growing cast, the development of Neela, Ivar’s Magnificent Bastard Plans, time-travel, Amelia Earhart doing her thing, new enemies– what are you most enjoying about the series at the moment, personally?
I really like the cast of characters we’ve assembled, which is the great hallmark of any series, and what’s cool is we have future and past variations of all the different characters — which we’ll be seeing more and more of as “Breaking History” goes along.
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