Spending time in an alley

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

When last we left our heroes they had got themselves in a bit of a pickle. Well, a car crash with a traitor. There’s more on that plotline this issue however we open with something that was mentioned last issue – Nadia’s past. We already knew that she had a bad experience with The Syndicate but actually seeing what happened play out is heart breaking, the desperation of her parents. And of course you’ll never guess which Syndicate member was behind splitting Nadia’s family up. Well you might but there’s no spoilers here.

Nadia may have confided in Tatsuo about her past last issue but this issue their sort of new found respect and loyalty to each other will be put to the test by Roselyn and there’s a twist there. I really liked this twist for Roselyn, who had been the most hostile of the Union characters to Nadia and Tatsuo last issue. Her reasons for her hostility was a twist I wasn’t altogether expecting. Having a character like that adds an interesting dynamic to this first part of the book in particular.

Not to say there aren’t some more shocking twists and turns because there really are. I didn’t know where the story was going and the developments all along the way really surprised me. I don’t want to spoil it because this is a book that benefits from a lack of spoilers. Seeing it all unfold makes reading it more fun. I will say though that poor Tatsuo ends up in the biggest pickle yet at the end of the book.

I do enjoy the interplay between Tatsuo and Nadia and seeing their relationship this issue was very interesting. It’s been developed really well and it’s intriguing to see what happens with the different challenges and trials they face. Although we started out firmly in Tatsuo’s story and with his perspective, I feel Nadia is just as realised a character with her backstory and it’s nice to see that get some of the focus here too. It’s interesting to compare it to Tatsuo’s own tragedy from the other side of the equation.

The art as usual really fits the story perfectly. By this issue we’re used to the general settings of the different time periods but they are still distinct and just visually you have a sense of where you are time wise. I mean the giant year timestamps help, but still the art really sets the scene well. I like the mix of details of the settings with more broad strokes with the art. The time periods all have a real lived in feeling.

The character designs too continue to impress. You can clearly tell young Nadia is Nadia from her facial expressions alone. I’ve said it before but the subtle black spots on the skin of the time travellers, especially their faces, really works especially in scenes where they are interacting with the ordinary people of the time period. It’s a subtle thing that we the reader notices but the characters the time travellers are interacting with don’t.

The colouring too is really good. I like the use of solid colours in the backgrounds. The use of shadows is also nicely done and works really well. Especially since a lot of these characters exist in the shadows.

Overall Time Before Time is a book that I think has become more confident and interesting as each issue has gone by. In this penultimate issue the stakes have never been higher and that makes for a really interesting read. I really want to see the conclusion of this first arc because I have really enjoyed what we’ve had so far. Each issue is really packed with story and I really appreciate that. Who knows what the next time will bring. I’m excited to find out.

Plus I need to know what happens next after that ending.

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