Writers: Declan Shalvey & Rory McConville
Artist: Joe Palmer
Colourist: Chris O’Halloran
Letterer: Hassan Otsmane-Ehaou
When we last left our heroes Nadia was in the clutches of the Syndicate and our bad guy Helgi had sent Tatsuo off to another time period to collect a mysterious package. Except that Helgi being Helgi he had forced Tatsuo to use a very old and creaky time machine that basically looks like one of those cages people used to string up executed people in. This isn’t great for Tatsuo as we know that damage is caused to the time traveller even when protected with an up to date pod. Travelling in what is a metal cage means he’s really exposed to the rigours of the time stream in a way which it’s heavily implied is very painful.
As a result of all this Tatsuo and Nadia spend most of this issue apart, but their story has been so well developed up to this point that there’s a really strong foundation as we follow these characters along their respective challenges. They have, in a way, a common goal – to beat the Syndicate and escape, though for very different reasons and with very different methods of going about it. Nadia takes the kicking and punching approach and Tatsuo the more thoughtful, planning approach.
The end of this first arc provides resolutions in some ways but there’s plenty of threads to be picked up in the next arc. It really fits the way this story weaves throughout time in that events and characters come back around and the last page offers a really interesting hook for the next arc. I am looking forward to seeing more and I am glad we are going to be following more of Tatsuo and Nadia into the future. Or the past. Or both!
Having said that I was very happy with the way this arc concluded. There’s some definite gasp and ooo moments along the way and the end does feel satisfying in its own way, even though there are plenty of paths left. It feels like the real end of an arc whilst letting the story continue on and that balance is pretty perfect. I like the way it creates questions out of answers, that’s the way it should be.
There’s some really good character work here. I don’t want to spoil appearances of characters (there’s some really good surprises here which I really liked) but I will say I hope we see more of the strange being Tatsuo has to get the package from in 3455. Might be because he’s a robot but there’s a few lines that really resonated with me I have to say. It’s nice to have these characters in different time periods that are fleshed out just enough to be interesting.
The art continues to be another really strong aspect of this book. There’s plenty of really fun action but again what really sells it for me are the character expressions. Poor Tatsuo in particular, you can tell what he is thinking simply through the art. And Nadia’s grit and determination is always evident. The design of the new characters is also really fun and interesting. Again there’s this real strength to the art with the different time periods.
We flit between a few different time periods in this issue, but the art remains on point in every era adhering to the world-building in really nice little ways. The colouring also really helps as it goes from the bleak outside world of 3455 to the indoor warehouse world of 2141. I really like the way the bleakness is portrayed. The future isn’t a great place and the art certainly gives it that strange atmosphere with a touch of hopelessness.
Overall Time Before Time #5 is a great read. I have really enjoyed this series so far and I feel this arc has been really wonderfully done. There’s a standalone story in the next issue but then we dive right into the current murky world of time travelling and I for one cannot wait.