By: Mark Waid (writer), Chad Hardin (art), Blond (colors), Ed Dukeshire (letters) and Dafna Pleban (editor)
The Story: A hero named the Traveler shows up in our time doing battle with some bad dudes named the Split Second Men.
What’s Good: I like the way Mark Waid writes the voice of the hero: The Traveler. He gives him a voice that is simultaneously upbeat and weary with the world (“SIGH! I just fixed this mess. Can’t you people keep the world straight without my help for 5 minutes? Oh well…onward and upward!”). It’s not a unique voice in the land of comic superheroes, but it isn’t one that is used all that much. Traveler also has an interesting power set: He can manipulate time, so he can seemingly freeze things in mid-fall or move really fast. But, he isn’t the Flash…he’s just warping time such that he is moving at a different frame rate than everyone around him.
There is also the mystery of who the Traveler is. It is somewhat intriguing, especially because he has what appears to be the remnants of an ID patch on his chest with some key letters missing. Clearly, who the Traveler is and why he is here will be explained in the future. With minds like Stan Lee and Mark Waid behind the story, I have some faith that it’ll be a good explanation.
The art is like most Boom superhero books: serviceable. There is nothing wrong with it, but it is pretty obvious that Boom is not trying to find the next JH Williams, III. Or, if they do find him, he isn’t going to breakout on their watch. This is just straightforward, very competent superhero art.
What’s Not So Good: This read a little more like a #0 issue to me. There was a lot of intro and exposition, but things could have been ramped up such that the ending cliffhanger happened in the middle. It was a nice attempt at a cliffhanger, but it falls a little flat when the character seemingly being killed was only introduced a few pages earlier. There is also nothing that makes it clear why this comic book is a “must read” that should be added to the pull list. Let’s face it: The economy is not good and the superhero marketplace is very crowded. Most comic fans are looking for comics to drop, not titles to add. Boom has had success with Irredeemable, but that book succeeds with superheroes because it is willing to go places that Marvel and DC probably wouldn’t with their major characters. Traveler just feels like a garden-variety superhero book.
I don’t think it is the artist’s fault, because Boom’s superhero books aren’t very adventurous from an art standpoint, but I need a little more “wow” in my art. Some of that is personal taste as I fall more on the art side of “story vs. art” (which is a false choice, btw). But, by this time in my life I have read so many comic books that I need some imaginative artistic choices rather than very competently drawn superheroes.
Conclusion: Solid, but no “wow”. I have faith based on Mark Waid’s name being attached.
– Dean Stell