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

Time Before Time is back! After a December hiatus the best ongoing time travel comic of 2022 bursts back onto the scene in 2023 with a new artist. We pick up Nadia’s story as she reunited with her family, but time changes people and that’s the central theme of this issue which delves deep into what it means to pick up years later in the past. There’s a lot of character meat to events with of course running plot threads humming away in the background.

For those who have forgotten the emotional trauma of last issue Tatsuo, who was dying, made a last ditch effort to help Nadia get back to her family. Her sister and mother had been recruited (in the past they had been relocated to) to the Arcola institute who, to escape a robot induced apocalypse, went deep into the past to build a new future. Like billions of years in the past.

Now Nadia finds herself there in the town where her mother is mayor and her sister is grown up and essentially a cop. Many years have passed and her mother and sister have changed, subverting Nadia’s amber expectations (excellent issue title by the way). Nadia finds herself trying to reconnect with people who aren’t the same as that image kid Nadia brought through into adulthood. In many ways Nadia’s image of the reunion was something of an naive child’s dream and the reality is not easy.

Most of the issue focuses on Nadia and rightly so. We do get some hints of the aftermath of the incident at the Arcola institute from last issue and some machinations of the Syndicate. I liked how it was touched on as we know that this is not over, but at the same time all we need is a reminder that yeah stuff is going on in the future that might yet have a bearing on things. You can’t escape the future as we know from previous arcs.

There’s another change of artist, something of a common occurrence with Time Before Time. What’s also common is it’s pretty seamless again too. There are some choices of the way the characters are depicted that do feel distinctly different but I like that each artist has been able to bring their own twist to things. By the end of the issue I had pretty much forgotten there had been a change of artist. As always the colouring continuity really helps and pays off here too making any differences less jarring.

The differences I picked up on were mainly in the movement. The walking, running, feel far more stylised compared to previous artists. This is especially true for side on perspectives from a distance. When characters are walking next to each other it’s not as noticeable.

The parts of the art I enjoyed the most were the depictions of the futuristic world, albeit one based in the far distant past. The crazy clothes with exaggerated baggy areas for some and the odd mix of past styles even using vaguely historic looking jackets mixed with more modern ones. Then there’s the fact there’s hoverboards and hover trays, those ubiquitous future inventions. Really loved those little bits of attention to detail. The art really builds the world well. I’ve not even mentioned the architecture.

The panels choices are also very solid and also remind of earlier art in the run. The way they are composed helps sell that continuity. It all flows well and again some nice touches. Nadia and her family talking, just the three of them sitting on a giant sofa, is a nice bit of character art and works very well with the character work going on.

This is an issue where the investment we’ve had in seeing Nadia reunited with her family has really paid off. We’ve been on this journey with her for so many issues, seen her come close only to lose them. Now she’s reunited but it’s not easy. There are changes, revelations and Nadia finds herself in a world without Tatsuo, who was her greatest ally. The emotions run deep.

Oh but don’t worry Kevin does make an appearance.

Everything about Time Before Time feels like an organic change and development and that’s true here. The new art works, the payoff works, the emotions work. The story isn’t anywhere near over but these quieter issues of solid character work are really excellent. Whatever is to come this series absolutely gets that balance right as evidenced by this issue.

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