The debut issue of this comic was good, almost surprisingly good, and the introduction of these new heroes and villains worked well to set everything up. It all ended on a very good cliffhanger, so it’s a mild shame to see how that is resolved in the first pages here. It’s not what you would expect, but it does open up some new concepts to be played with.
This comic is going to succeed, at least for a time, because it’s all one big ticking mystery. Motives and character connections are completely obscured at the moment. It’s a testament to the job Waid is doing that I already care so much about how it all might play out. The main mystery is the identity of who the Traveller might be, and I can already see a few great ways to take this and have fun with it. It’s a simple and yet effectively played card.
The Traveller is a chatty hero, it must be said. He operates like a Stan Lee character would, but not exactly as written by Stan Lee. Waid works hard to give him the core sensibilities of a Lee creation and yet updates him and almost makes him more likeable. His constant words aren’t always so redundant, he is actually funny in parts, but most importantly he doesn’t make you cringe too much. It’s fun watching him rescue what looks like Stan Lee, himself, in one scene, though another scene involving relationship talk at a disaster site is quite on the nose.
Time travel is the important aspect of this comic, so there are ample opportunities to have fun with diverging time paths and dramatic irony as we already know something will happen. When written well, which this has been so far, time travel can elevate a story. But if written poorly, not thought out, or used as a crutch, time travel can severely hinder a tale. This is working that line fine for now, and I hope it continues to.
Hardin’s art is consistently clean and fun. He throws a few curveballs in his panel designs, but he mostly seems focused on making sure the action comes through easy to follow. He is successful and his attention to backgrounds and facial expressions make this comic feel like it holds up against any heavy-hitting mainstream title on the shelves.
I have mentioned that this series of Stan Lee comics feels like a different version of the Pilot Season concept. The true difference is that these comics really are good, and to see the quality continue into the second issue is a great sign. I don’t think people were expecting these new Lee creations to really be able to stand up within the current crop of comics but they really are. “The Traveller” is exceptional fun and yet has a little more brain at its core as well. This is a comic that truly has the opportunity to build up a fan base and actually deserves it.