Say hello to a man with a gun

Publisher: Image
Writers: Rory McConville
Artist: Ron Salas
Colourist: Chris O’Halloran
Letterer: Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou

The world of Time Before Time expands out yet again. Firstly in the creative team as Ron Salas takes on the art duties for this issue (the first of two to be written solely by Rory McConville as a special two parter). Secondly in terms of the plot as this issue features the most time jumping since the first issue (I guess, I didn’t actually check but needless to say you’ll find those large numbers telling you what year it is useful). This time we get to now a whole set of new characters who are being hired to track down Nadia and Tatsuo. It’s a high paying gig but there’s a little mission to get out of way first, to steal tech to track the pod down and find the fugitives.

I have said all along that the way the cast of characters expands out and we get to know them is a real strength of Time Before Time. We spend most of the issue with Sebastian, an ex-solider currently making a living by tracking down time fugitives. The beauty of that is we learn a lot about him. We learn about his bitterness over his service, we learn about his daughter and his grandsons, as well as the reason he needs to take a high paying job. In this issue alone he’s a fully realised and interesting character. We will be seeing more of him so it’s really good we have this grounding of his character now. It’s done totally naturally too as we follow him on the job and off. One poignant moment is the panel where he looks at a picture of a group of soldiers whilst he reflects on his lack of a decent pension. It says so much.

The art therefore, despite a different artist, is still as strong as ever. Ron Salas doesn’t quite hit the original stylings but that’s okay. The art is in keeping with the universe generally. It was only when a picture of Tatsuo and Nadia was shown that I even noticed how different it was, as I then had something to compare it to. Again the colouring really helps maintain that continuity. It’s also helped that these are periods of time that we haven’t really seen before. The art really helps show these new periods – a lot of clean and curved lines that really do give the overall aesthetic a new feel.

I also love the little touch of different world building. The blue holographic style advert in Sebastian’s daughter’s apartment for example. They look cool and futuristic but there’s also little insights into what the world is actually like as an advert for travel talks about pollution protection, suggesting that not all the world is as habitable as it once was. I love how those little details are just get dropped in there. It’s natural and it works so well.

I also liked the exposition of the rest of the crew we’re introduced to. I don’t know how attached I should get to these characters. We don’t know much about them but we get the basics of who they are and what their skills are. It’s a classic heist team introduction moment. There’s also a classic heisting tell the plan as we show the plan in action moment at the end of the issue too. I won’t say how the plan goes but, well, it was quite the twist ending. I would expect nothing less of this series of course.

I forgot to mention that the issue opens in 1872, probably the earliest we’ve seen in this series. I admit it was interesting to suddenly go – what? I liked that it wrong footed me as we’ve never seen this far back before. Honestly I really appreciated that. Of course we soon realise that this is about a fugitive in time but still it was a nice little bit of playing with expectations. Time Before Time is so good at constantly keeping you on your toes.

Overall this is a really solid issue. We get a new character who is well developed. We get to see new areas of the timeline. I am delighted that Time Before Time is still exploring and expanding. The new art is good and I really think it worked well here. I can’t believe how far this series has come and yet it still feels fresh and there’s new hooks of interest. It speaks volumes that we can spend a whole issue away from our main characters and still enjoy it to this level. Good stuff.

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