How would you cope without a time machine?

Publisher: Image

Writers: Declan Shalvey & Rory McConville
Artist: Joe Palmer
Colourist: Chris O’Halloran
Letterer: Hassan Otsmane-Ehaou

A first issue should hook you in and keep you generally interested. A second issue has to build on that. With Time Before Time #2 there’s a lot of building which means this is a remarkably strong issue that very much builds on the premise we’re given in issue #1.
We ended on something of a cliffhanger as our protagonist Tatsuo’s plan to steal a time pod to escape the shady Syndicate went rather wrong when an FBI agent got involved. With bullets flying everywhere they ended up hurtling through time to who knows where as the pod got shot.

The crash landing leaves the pod destroyed and our protagonists with little idea where they are. They will find out in this issue as we’re introduced to The Union, arch enemies of the Syndicate. It’s a really nice twist to have a competing organisation also with the ability of time travel but with different ideas to the Syndicate.

I really don’t want to spoil too much because the plot is really well woven. There are a few little twists and turns in here from little asides about the Union to questions about Nadia Wells. She’s an FBI agent but doesn’t appear to be acting as an FBI agent, so what is she up to (aside from handcuffing herself to Tatsuo as she doesn’t trust him, a fact which pays off with a touch of comedy later).

I am intrigued as well by the comments we get in a flashback of Tatsuo going on his first few journeys supervised by Helgi. Tatsu wonders about changing the past, as do we all. The world of 2141 is awful though surely someone would have tried to change it? I feel there’s a plot thread to tug on later.

Speaking of Helgi, if you thought Helgi was a bastard before, just wait until you see how he lashes out here. He’s determined to handle the situation he finds himself in – a stolen pod, the FBI, and prove his father, who seems to have little faith in him, wrong.

Once again the character art really works. There’s a few new characters here and they all have their own personalities which come through in their expressions. We also notice that there are dark spots on those who time travel, a sign of the toll it causes. It’s a nice way to clearly show that and something I think I missed in the first issue.

The art of the setting is also really successful. The pre-2141 world that Tatsuo and Nadia find themselves in is a real stark contrast to the world they have come from, a dark, grimy, broken place. There’s some really great art set in a grimy alleyway in 2141 as Helgi tries to find further information. The shadows really pop.

The lettering is also skilful. There’s ways to emphasise that aren’t just bold, there’s some exclamations full of drama and quieter speech that’s still really clear. It’s really successful and certainly adds to the realness of the characters.

Overall I was expecting to like Time Before Time #2 as I liked the first issue but I actually enjoyed it far more than I thought would. It subverted my expectations and felt a very natural continuation of the previous issue, despite the sudden change in setting and new characters with developing plot. Honestly one of the strongest second issues I have read lately.

I have to give it a good 5 time pods out of time. 

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