Review - Stan Lee's The Traveler #1

Stan Lee is affectionately referred to as "Grand Poobah" in Stan Lee's The Traveler #1 and rightfully so. Like Stan Lee's Soldier Zero #1, Lee's fingerprints are all over and the intergalactic superhero is strong in this one as well. Mark Waid, Chad Hardin, Blond and Ed Dukeshire have crafted a first issue that actually ties into the Soldier Zero mythos (more on that in a bit). Is it worth your time though?

The issue opens in Richmond, VA (semi-757 shout out) with Danielle seeking to renew her driver's license. In an almost foreboding action she sets her clock's timer to twenty minutes, as she promised her son she would be home in exactly that amount of time. Needless to say, her voyage home is interrupted by an intergalactic space battle where she's the target for some reason. A devious character named Angstrom appears from a clock on the street and has electromagnetic abilities. Remember my question about the Split-Second Men from Stan Lee's Soldier Zero #2? Apparently, Angstrom is one of them.

The Traveler appears and can manipulate time, slowing it or speeding it to his advantage and providing Danielle a chance to escape. It's not quite explained why he appeared at that moment to help Danielle, other than to fight off Angstrom. His suit also bears "K-Ronus" on it, which looks like a company logo and could be an interesting plot point down the road. The reader gets a brief look at The Traveler in a solitary moment of reflection, but then he's right back at it again against Splinter, another Split-Second Man that can decay matter and is targeting a bus driver for some reason. The Traveler saves the bus driver after scolding him for being late. The issue ends with The Traveler facing off against FBI agent Julia Martin, her partner Officer Ramirez and Splinter.

I get the sense that The Traveler actually knows the future timelines and is doing his best to stop certain events from happening. Waid characterizes him as something of a smartass, as well as someone who genuinely seems to care about the people he's protecting. He even has a sort of rapid-fire wit that keeps up with his ability to move time and it's a nice little touch to his character. As I mentioned earlier we're not really told why he's protecting Danielle or the bus driver; it could have been that they were simply at the wrong place at the wrong time when Angstrom and Splinter appeared. There's a third member of the Split-Second Men that The Traveler seems genuinely concerned about, but we're not introduced to that one yet.

Contrasting with Stan Lee's Soldier Zero #1, Stan Lee's The Traveler #1 is a lot more fast-paced and action packed. This book feels a bit more cerebral and somehow more "superhero-y" at the same time. Sure, Stewart Trauttman is dealing with his newfound ability to walk as Soldier Zero, but The Traveler seems to be occupied with the safety of the universe constantly. I'm sure there will be an inevitable team-up between the two and my guess is that Starborn is the third of the Split-Second Men (just a hunch). It will be interesting to see how this universe is weaved together, but so far it's got promise. The book should be in stores Wednesday and interiors are below.