The Traveller by Neil Gibson and Tasos Anastasiades is about to hit shelves and this Steam Punk Story with a twist has a hell of a lot to unpack from it.
Starting off from the perspective of a poor Shepherd in the late 1800s, the story quickly develops into an out of this world thriller that feels unique from start to finish.
But is it worth picking up?
Well, throughout this review I’ll be breaking down everything that you need to know about The Traveller as well as if it’s worth grabbing this month.
There will be some spoilers here, so if you want to go into the book as blind as possible then I highly recommend that your skip to the score and come back to this review at a later date.
TPub Comics were gracious enough to give a free copy of issue one to readers of this review which can be downloaded here – The Traveller Issue One
For everyone else, let’s jump into The Traveller and set off on the journey that will change your perspective in many, many ways.
Russian Through Time
We join Ioseb, who due to poverty, is on the brink of suicide. Ioseb, like many Russians in the 1800s, is close to starvation and sees no way out other than killing his entire herd and then turning the gun on himself.
It’s at this moment when he is about to end it all that something mysterious happens and our character is taken on a journey that will change his life and the world in more ways than one.
Through a mysterious portal comes a futuristic looking traveller and after Ioseb, unaware of exactly what is happening, kills the mysterious being, he is granted the ability to ‘jump’ through time and space.
It’s a premise that instantly had me hooked and Gibson right out the gate manages to add a new perspective to the whole ‘time travel’ thing that I’d never even considered before.
Most people if given this amazing gift would think that they have an incredible opportunity to live out the coolest moments in history but cleverly, Gibson showcases just how lonely such a life would be.
Ioseb is unable to create any meaningful relationships with the people he encounters and early on the book subtly enforces the notion that if one were to gain the ability to go anywhere then one would lose their home, identity and attachment to the world.
It’s a neat little motif that right away will have you invested in the character and watching Ioseb struggle to deal with a power that he doesn’t really understand is as enthralling as you’d expect. He’s the perfect protagonist for this kind of story and it’s easy to see the world through his eyes due to this portrayal.
I Did Nazi That Coming
In the hopes of healing himself, Ioseb travels to a futuristic location that is basically what would’ve happened if the Nazi’s and Russia remained allies in World War 2. They easily won the war and now enforce the rule of the land with an Iron Fist.
This stems punk future is outfitted with underwater cities, Rocketman inspired jet packs and gas mask equipped legion of soldiers that feel like they were ripped straight out of your worst nightmare.
Those who love games like Bioshock and The Saboteur will fall head over heels with the book from this point onwards and I love how in the way that the city clearly has more going on beneath the surface, the society that lives there does too.
The people are slaves, fitted with ‘obedience chips’ that impede them from traveling or rebelling against the state leader. So, naturally, Ioseb, who can roam freely throughout time and space and is not inhibited by such a device, becomes someone that they can use.
It’s in this alternate dimension that Tasos Anastasiades really gets a chance to shine. As we learn of the Gauntlet’s back story, the artist gets a chance to balance the steel exterior of the industrialised dictatorship with the exotic locales that the Rebellion initially traveled to.
The work is steeped in Russian Imperialism and it’s an inspired choice to set a time travel story in. I’m sure many will agree, there is a certain allure to the industrialisation of society and this is why the country makes such a great setting for a steampunk story.
What’s so brilliant about the illustrations is that it feels like the logical conclusion of where the world would have ventured to aesthetically had the events in it played out. It’s clear that there’s been a heavy amount of research put into bringing across the atmosphere of the location and this shines through heavily.
Overall it becomes the perfect locale to drive the plot forward and as Ioseb heads out to assassinate the Leader of the civilisation it because clear that not everything is as black and white as it seems.
‘I was sent to kill you, I didn’t say I would’
Ioseb arrives at the Leader’s office, however, after having a conversation with him, he has a change of heart.
Remember, Ioseb is well out of his depth and he comes from a world and time where the Government was viewed as an equal to God.
He is easily manipulated by the leader and the book works as brilliant social commentary on how Propaganda is often put in effect by State Figureheads to make even the most negative thing seem like a positive.
This is how things like Brexit happened and whilst ‘The Traveller’ is deeply rooted in Sci-Fi, like most good Sci-Fi it is deeply rooted in Society.
There are many real-world metaphors that can be drawn here and the creative team do a phenomenal job of putting forth a political opinion without it being too on the nose.
The Conclusion And Verdict
In the end the Rebels storm the Leader’s HQ and the book really grabs your attention in the final act.
I don’t want to spoil too much but as a huge fan of history this book’s ending really knocked me off my feet. The ending ties in beautifully with the opener and just as Ioseb had to murder in order to get the ability to ‘jump’ he now selfishly believes that he can achieve power by killing once more.
It’s rare I finish a story and have goosebumps at the end, but The Traveller managed to leave me feeling like I’d just witnessed something special.
Overall this is a brilliant time travel piece that really packs and punch and should be considered as a must read for any comic book fan with even a passing interest in Science Fiction.
This is a masterpiece that’s difficult to fault and I highly recommend that you pick this up. It’s so good that I even put my money where my mouth is and donated to the kickstarter. If you’d like a copy of the book just click the link here – Get A Copy Of The Traveller.
The Traveller gets a…