ADVANCE REVIEW! The Traveler #9 will come out on July 27, 2011.
The Traveler #9 has been advertised as a great jumping-on point for the series. While this is true, you still shouldn’t expect to really understand what’s going on here. Don’t worry though — our titular hero doesn’t, either.
Aside from still coming to terms with what he lost during last issue’s battle with Abaris, the Traveler now has to deal with sinister time ghosts (yeah, you read that right) that seem to originate from his old lab. Once there, he runs into the Split Second Men but their encounter is interrupted by a giant alien looking couple. They give him the slip but he manages to follow them, only to have an brief but interesting encounter with Abaris before being attacked by a mystery villain (hero?).
Though the introduction of so many new characters and mysteries is great for a jumping on point, a new reader might not know what he/she should be already familiar with and this can take away from the book. If you’re a new reader, just go with it. There is nothing you really need to know that isn’t summed up in some way through the dialogue. This really does start a new chapter in the Traveler’s career and it’s setting up to be a very compelling one.
I really like the Traveler as a character because although he has an extraordinary power set, he still has to work through problems and appreciates the significance of his abilities. One gets the sense that he’s always a little over his head and just keeps working to make things right. There’s one panel here where he just grits his teeth and yells “What am I supposed to do?” which, to me, is a fantastic character moment. Despite his impressive skills, the Traveler is not omnipotent; he’s just a normal guy thrown into impossible situations who has relied on quick thinking (and luck) to keep himself from getting overcome.
While the Traveler is working through these problems, he’s basically providing the reader with constant exposition, and I’m okay with that. Waid and Peyer throw around some pretty creative concepts that could easily go over the heads of a lot of readers if they’re not careful. Luckily the dialogue (and monologue) is very well written and easily accessible. The reactions from the various people the Traveler saves are appropriately varied from suspicious and skeptical to thankful and flabbergasted — which is an understandable reaction to being attacked by your baby’s future druggie ghost.
There’s not much to say about the art here that I didn’t say in my review of the last issue: Chad Hardin continues to impress. This issue is full of scenes involving violent time ghosts, and I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that no one can draw a time ghost like Hardin. He managed to make a blue glowing baby particularly menacing, which is an impressive feat. Again, I love the character designs for this book. The alien (?) couple is creepy while still being gender specific, and I especially love the design of the character introduced on the very last page. Of course, all of this is enhanced greatly by Blond’s superb colors.
If you’ve been enjoying this series from the beginning, then this will just be one more enjoyable issue for you. But if you are unfamiliar with this book, this is a fine place to jump on. I recommend the series as a whole, but it’s not necessary reading to enjoy this issue. This continues to be a refreshingly innovative series that refuses to fall into any single genre. It combines mind bending time travel with classic super heroics to create a wonderfully unique story.