Writers: Declan Shalvey & Rory McConville
Artist: Eric Zawadzski
Colourist: Chris O’Halloran
Letterer: Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou
One thing that Time Before Time has been great at is the way in which the series explores the future and the different groups and factions that inhabit different time periods. This issue is very much in keeping with that as we meet another group, this one more end of existence types, as Nadia continues to try and find her family and poor Tatsuo is still dying.
Our heroes are currently in 3987 where they are hunting clues as to what happened to Nadia’s family. This leads them to the Arcola Institute, an organisation that doesn’t spell check their website and who believe the end of the world is nigh. It’s actually really fun to see an organisation who aren’t stuck on crime but who are after something else, in this case escaping a cataclysmic event not far from their time period. These are different types to the ones we’re familiar with. Their agenda is different and it gives some more layers to the future.
The art continues to work well. Eric Zawadski continues his stint on this arc and there’s some good stuff. The Arcola Institute feels imposing and a bit futuristic, while maintaining a nice familiarity too. It’s always been important to have the art solidly visualise the futuristic settings and that works really well here. The character work is also solid. Tatsuo really is suffering and the art doesn’t hold back, showing his now rather pathetic physical state.
There’s also some nice colouring going on too. O-ur hero’s bounty hunter Sebastian is still around and the greens used within the scenes he’s part of contrast nicely with the brighter white colours of the Arcola Institute and even the outside world where Tatsuo and Kevin are hanging out. It gives a nice feeling of Sebastian having his own story, albeit one linked to Nadia and Tatsuo, as he continues to track them.
Of course they have no idea someone is on their tail and as a reader we can draw appreciation for the tension and jeopardy that’s going on without Nadia or Tatsuo knowing. It gives us a greater sense danger as they face struggles they both know about and ones they have yet to see.
I haven’t mentioned much of Kevin the robot in all this and that’s lax of me. Kevin remains a nice spot of comic relief. He’s also a good friend that adds a different dynamic with his comments. Kevin is able to make some good natured humorous comments because he is helping out Nadia and Tatsuo. He helps track down the Arcola Institute and it’s clear he’s also been looking for help for Tatsuo. So it was great to see Kevin get some real action later in the issue, even if at times I worried for his safety.
As usual I’ve tried to avoid spoilers. Time Before Time is a much more fun read without them. This issue doesn’t have a great deal of character work but it does have a lot of excellent world building work. Questions still need to be answered and there are some interesting paths for our heroes to take. I very much enjoyed seeing another aspect to the future and time travel generally be developed. As always Time Before Time expands out the future, and the past, in interesting directions.