Writers: Declan Shalvey & Rory McConville
Artist: Joe Palmer
Colourist: Chris O’Halloran
Letterer: Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou
What I love about Time Before Time is that it feels like there’s still so much more to discover. Here it feels like we’re peeling back the layers of Nadia’s past but at the same time we’re seeing how fragile the relationship between Nadia and Tatsuo is. Not to mention finally seeing Helgi in a new light with some sympathy. Plus Kevin the robot is hilarious and I want to see more from him. It feels like a really packed issue in the best of ways.
There’s serval different threads and characters to follow. We have Helgi’s father, Mason, who is now running The Syndicate after Helgi’s death and there’s more going on there than meets the eye. Even the characters note how similar the two look. Plus there’s hints of a very interesting backstory. He is teaming up with Amadeus Hoffman to further the war. I like how we’re still seeing The Syndicate’s side.
Then we have Nadia who is spending time with Claudette, someone she knew as a kid. Claudette doesn’t trust the Syndicate which of course means she doesn’t trust Tatsuo. She knows the sort of person who works for the Syndicate, having been relocated herself. It’s nice to have some of Nadia’s backstory revealed through her conversations with her old friend and the implications Claudette makes about Tatsuo do not go unnoticed. Trust is such a fragile thing.
So is Tatsuo’s stomach as he appears to be having trouble shaking off the unpleasant effects of the trip. He still wants to help Nadia but Kevin is also an issue and his pursuit of secrecy might yet cause issues with Nadia. I love seeing the interplay as we are reminded that they come from very different places and did end up getting thrown together. Tatsuo is the ex-syndicate member wanting to keep a low profile whilst Nadia is desperate to find her family and not necessarily bothered by other implications.
Then there’s Kevin the robot from the future. Now in 2042, where no-one has seen anything like him, social media threatens to blow the whole time travel thing wide open and lead the Syndicate to Tatsuo and Nadia. Kevin acts as the comic relief amongst some heavier stuff with the other characters. His fashion in particular will raise a smile and there’s some nice art choices with deciding the different clothing he tries out before settling on what I shall describe as tracksuit chic.
So there’s a lot going on but it doesn’t feel rushed. It feels like things are unfolding nicely. There’s also a very interesting call back to the very first issue and the very first panels which I was not expecting but am very interested to see. I won’t spoil things by saying any more about that. What it does show though is the way that this story is so well plotted out.
It’s also really well designed. The world of 2042 again feels like it’s not that removed from our own, as it isn’t relatively speaking. Claudette’s apartment is depicted as simple, mundane and recognisable. It works as Nadia is stepping into the familiar when she speaks to Claudette. It also all harks back to issue #6 where we saw how relocated folk lived in the 1990’s. It doesn’t seem as if The Syndicate’s relocation tactics have changed fifty years on from that, then again why would they when the passage of time is different when you can travel through it? Again nice continuity.
As always the art generally is just so good. Character designs old and new just work really well. The use of colour is also really good. Such as the green when Tatsuo is feeling sick, the blues in the bleak world of 2142. It’s all just so well done. The way the art is styled is just great. I really liked the action as people entered or left a room there was real movement to it.
I also have to say the lettering this issue really worked nicely for me. There are some nice little under the breath moments that work. Plus we have Kevin’s robot speech. At points there’s a lot said dialogue wise but it never gets intrusive.
Time Before Time #8 just works as another great instalment in what is such a good book right now. I can’t really say any more than that.