ADVANCED REVIEW: ‘Time Before Time,’ Issue #1

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Time Before Time #1 - But Why Tho?

Time Before Time #1 is written by Declan Shalvey & Rory McConville, illustrated by Joe Palmer, colored by Chris O’Harollan, and lettered by Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou. It is published by Image Comics. In the year 2140, a criminal organization known as the Syndicate transports paying customers to various time periods in order to escape a dying future. Syndicate worker Tatsuo and his friend Oscar plan to escape the Syndicate using one of their own time machines, but their plans go south due to the entry of another figure.

This marks Shalvey’s second time as the writer of a comic after the Bog Bodies graphic novel, which he also illustrated. As Shalvey mentions in the afterword following the issue, he struck up a fast friendship with McConville which led to the development of Time Before Time. This is best reflected in the friendship between Tatsuo and Oscar. The du drink beers, gripe about their work troubles, and argue back and forth about why their plan to escape could or couldn’t work. Shalvey and McConville’s scripting adds a deep layer of authenticity to this friendship, which leads to a rather jarring and extremely tragic plot twist.

Shalvey and McConville also said that several time travel films influenced their approach to the series, including Back to the Future and Looper. The latter’s influence can be heavily felt in the setting, with rickety time travel pods and a criminal organization utilizing time travel for one of their services. Even the plot is similar-a criminal tries to escape his current venue of employment and due to time travel, winds up in a heap of trouble. The writers do manage to put their own spin on things, as there’s immensely less murder and time travel is used for relocating playing customers rather than wetwork. And I don’t mind the heavy influence. Many writers often wear their influences on their sleeves and in this case, it helps enhance the story. And Looper also happens to be one of my favorite films.

Brining Shalvey and McConville’s script to visual life are Palmer and O’Harollan, with Palmer giving each character a distinct look. Tatsuo is wiry and tan, with spiky hair and clothing that gives him a strong resemblance to Cowboy Bebop‘s Spike Segal.  Oscar is a little shorter, with short hair and a slightly bulkier build. And their boss Helgi has a style that screams “I modeled my entire life off of Tony Montana.” O’Harollan paints the future sequences in a variety of muted colors including dark purples and blues, lending a sense of foreboding to the future sequences. Otsmane-Elhaou adds a special touch to the proceedings by placing the years in a large white typeface, which immediately draws the reader’s attention in addition to letting them know which sequences take place when.

Time Before Time #1 mixes a hardboiled crime story with time travel tropes for a solid debut issue. The ending of the first issue is a whopper of a cliffhanger and promises to build upon an already unique premise. If you enjoy films like GoodFellas or Looper, this is the comic for you.

Time Before Time #1 goes on sale on May 12 wherever comics are sold.

Time Before Time #1
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TL;DR

Time Before Time #1 mixes a hardboiled crime story with time travel tropes for a solid debut issue. The ending of the first issue is a whopper of a cliffhanger and promises to build upon an already unique premise. If you enjoy films like GoodFellas or Looper, this is the comic for you.