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

There’s several plot threads expanding this issue with a really jaw dropping ending. There’s family drama, Syndicate politics and more Kevin the robot. Needless to say there’s a lot going on but as usual this is well paced issue with great art. The quality of Time Before Time remains really high even twenty issues in.

When we left Nadia there was much tension between her and her mother. Now her poor sister Jettie is suffering Nadia’s wrath and the former tries to explain to her sister why they chose to go into the far distant past with the Arcola institute. Nadia however isn’t buying it and is clearly struggling despite being united with her family, which of course has been her goal all along. As we’ve previously seen the reality has not lived up expectation, a theme brought home here.

It was good to get some background insight into what led Nadia’s mother to relocate, it was clearly a time pressured decision and not without pain. Seeing the flashbacks to that time we can sympathise with Nadia’s mother, whose side is well articulated by Jettie, no longer the naïve younger sister. Seeing the family dynamic has been a really strong aspect of this arc.

Another strong aspect of this arc is that by this issue it feels like Jorge Coelho has settled into the art. There’s confident work here. The characters are narratively such a strong focus and the art follows that through. The body language in particular is so expressive with mood and emotion. Nadia’s walk really expressing her disappointment with how things are.

We also get some nice uses of shadow, especially in the flashback scenes. It remains good and whilst perfectly in keeping with previous arcs I’ve got used to this style’s own individual strengths. The world and backgrounds and nicely realised but we don’t need anything overly detailed. This hits that balance. I especially like the wood and trees being integrated into the city.

What’s also integrated well is the various leaps as we find ourselves going from several different settings. As always the years in the first panel of the page are helpful in letting us know when in the world we are. The focus is Nadia but it’s not the only focus.

We get Carmichael and his rather brutal actions over at the Syndicate. I like how we see the villains still having their own soap opera. You know they will come into play with our heroes at some point again in the past, present or future but the time taken to flesh them out and their machinations is always appreciated.

I also very much appreciated the return of Kevin the Robot. He’s grown as a character in many ways as he’s become a real friend to Nadia. There’s a certain beautiful irony in that in many ways Nadia is emotionally closer to a robot than her own family. A family taken into the distant past by a weird anti-AI cult. These things are thought through so well.

The real kicker of the issue though is the last couple of pages. Sebastian the bounty hunter is back with a huge twist I did not see coming. I am so interested to see how and why and what is going on. If you don’t generally have a ‘W.T.F?!’ Moment at the end I can only assume you read spoilers.

This arc continues to be so strong, adding more layers and twists. Everything just works. Writing both characters and plot. Art with bold choices and great colouring. And lettering just finishing things off perfectly. This is such a rich book to dive into and this issue is worth reading and rereading. Time is precious but this issue is worth some of yours.

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