Writers: Declan Shalvey & Rory McConville
Artist: Eric Zawadzski
Colourist: Chris O’Halloran
Letterer: Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou
It’s felt like things have been building to a climax for some time and this issue certainly feels like it has reached it. Not a conclusion as such but most definitely a climax to several threads that have been peppered throughout this arc. There’s a sense of urgency to this issue throughout. As if time in one form or another is running out. In some ways it does by the end of this issue that flings the setting to the past, in more ways than one.
We start off with the last, Nadia’s past specifically. Her mother and sister have been a presence in this arc as the focus has been on Nadia trying to find them, which was the motivation that set off this entire chain of events way back in issue one, we just didn’t know it then. Nor we did know much about Nadia’s family. Seeing her sister, extremely upset at having to relocate in time, brings home everything Nadia has lost. It’s a realistic scene of a sibling squabble, just with a sci-fi twist even the kids are unaware of. The passion of Jettie’s objection I’d perfectly portrayed in the art and lettering. You can really feel this childhood frustration.
You can also feel the friendship between Tatsuo and Nadia. It’s hard to believe that these two once didn’t trust each other as they indulge in Kevin’s description of the mutual back patting society. It’s interesting that it feels like there are multiple layers to their conversation. There’s also much unsaid as spoken. That’s a real testament to the way the writing and art work together so seamlessly, building on everything we’ve sen before. We know how to read these characters’ body language and facial expressions, what they mean because the time has been taken to build that up over the previous sixteen issues. That’s a solid achievement considering the artist changes.
What’s also an achievement is that after the those initial scenes there’s a break neck pace of action. There’s shooting, explosions, pursuing. For just as Tatsuo, Nadia and Kevin break in to the Arcola institute to steal a pod at the same time Sebastian is breaking in in pursuit of them. The nail biting begins as you wait to see will our heroes reach the pod first or will Sebastian reach them before they can steal the pod and get Nadia back to her family?
You will find no spoilers here but I will say that there’s so much tension and action I raced through the first read to see what would happen. There is some death but really that’s nothing new for Time Before Time. Neither are the shocking moments. If you want to see Sebastian at his shooty best then this issues definitely has that. We see guns firing, explosions happening. Art and colour spot on.
There is of course humour, most of coming from Kevin who has proved to be a great addition. That robot makes me laugh every time with his well observed commentary. Everything from the Arcola institute having terrible firewalls as they are so technophobic to him mentioning he will beat some of them up. Oh Kevin. It’s also nice to have that third dynamic with Tatsuo and Nadia. He doesn’t have the same emotional relationship but that’s also what they need.
This issue was a real rollercoaster of emotion and the ending brought that home. I dare anyone not to feel something at this issue. Nothing will be the same now and yeah, that’s bittersweet. It feels like Time Before Time is heading off to new ground in a number of ways as we have reached the peak of something this issue. I’m being vague deliberately as if I suffered a spoiler free but punch so should you.
Way back with issue one I had no idea that I’d be left so emotional by this book, yet I have. I don’t know what lies in store with a heck of an ending but I want to see what the future past holds.