Can’t walk away from this tale

Publisher: Image
Writers: Declan Shalvey & Rory McConville
Artist: PJ Holden
Colourist: Chris O’Halloran
Letterer: Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou

Following the conclusion of the second arc of Time Before Time there are some creative changes afoot. Joe Palmer departs and PJ Holden takes over art duties for this issue, which is also the last to be co-written by Declan Shalvey and Rory McConville as the latter is sole writer for the next two issues. It’s understandable that in any long running title there will be changes and Time Before Time had a good run with the same creative team. Colourist Chris O’Halloran and letterer Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou are still on board so the changes are minimised.

This issue is also another departure from the normal run as it follows not one of our main characters but Nadia’s old FBI partner Alex. It’s really interesting to see what happened when Nadia disappeared from her life. Honestly it’s not something I thought about, but Nadia had a life before she fell in with Tatsuo. She had a responsible job, she was an FBI agent. We get some real insight into what her situation was like before we met her and that’s really useful as it does help us further understand Nadia.

It’s also interesting to see how the Syndicate operate. Alex is determined to investigate his partner’s disappearance but, well, let’s just say he is dissuaded with some pretty dark tactics, not that we have expected anything less of the Syndicate but there’s a twist of the threats involving his son which are really rather disturbing. Mainly because although we’ve never seen Alex and his family (wife Sharon and son Malcolm) before we quickly feel empathetic. They feel well drawn, despite not appearing before. Even Alex’s wife and son are characters that are simply established and again make you feel some empathy.

So the writing remains excellent. The characters are great and the way in which we see things unfold over the course of the issue is nicely done. There’s some real insight into Nadia and Alex is a really good POV character. We get some information about the Syndicate and the Syndicate’s day to day business (importing chocolate from a company that went bust a century earlier). It’s just very well written as always and I liked the different flavour to this. It added to the overall Time Before Time universe in the best of ways.

So the writing is great. I am happy to say as well that, despite the change of artist, so is the art. I will give quite a lot of credit to Chris O’Halloran’s colouring which really helps keep the sense of continuity. It’s the same colouring scheme as in pervious issues which means that the changes to the line drawing aren’t as obvious as they might otherwise have been.

It seems clear that PJ Holden is also aware of that continuity. I like his style here and I think it works very well for the world of Time Before Time. The characters we know from pervious issues look very much the way they always have. PJ Holden manages to really capture Joe Palmer’s style within his own. It means that you are never thrown out of the story by the change in art. The newer character designs such as Alex and his family also fit perfectly.

This is also true of the settings. The warehouse, office, apartment, they are all very much what we’ve some to expect in terms of the art. We’ve not visited this particular time period for a bit, it’s the most we’ve seen of it since perhaps the first issue but it reminds us exactly of what has come before. Even the layouts and the way the panels are set remind me of the previous issues. I think it’s really well done. It’s not easy but PJ Holden has pulled it off.

Overall this was another great look into the world of Time Before Time. I forgot to mention the lettering as well but there are some really well done some moments with that as well (mostly involving the word ‘fuck’). Despite the creative changes Time Before Time remains an excellent title. This is well worth checking out as always.

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