I'm a sucker for a good time travel story. Whether it's Back to the Future, The Terminator, or even Avengers: Endgame, I think that most stories involving time travel have the potential to be endlessly entertaining, when done correctly. Time Before Time is a new series published by Image Comics that fits squarely into this mold and, if the debut issue is anything to go by, this could be a comic that scratches my desire for time travel stories well into the future.
Time Before Time #1 is set in a world that largely sucks. As one of the characters in the book puts it, it has to be "one of the shittiest periods in human history." Luckily, time travel exists in the year 2041 meaning people can escape from their current situation if they have enough money. The downside is that those who control the time machines needed to get away are the future's equivalent of the modern mob.
The pitch behind Time Before Time is the thing that made me initially want to read this series and it continues to be the thing I'm most interested in moving forward. The idea of having time travel at your fingertips yet being at the mercy of a gang of thugs when it comes to using the technology is something that has endless potential from a storytelling perspective. Even by the end of the first issue, some major developments have transpired that left me greatly intrigued for what's to come in the next few issues.
The thing I found myself most impressed by out of the gate with Time Before Time is how quickly it invests you in its characters. The series' protagonist, Tatsuo, is someone who has dreams, ambitions, and goals far beyond his current situation—relatable for nearly anyone. When he and his friend Oscar decide to take control of their situation and make better lives for themselves elsewhere, the plan backfires due to unforeseen circumstances. While I won't spoil what exactly happens, I found this moment to be a deeply emotional one, especially since I had only known these characters for a mere 20 pages.
I also have to say I'm very impressed with the artwork in Time Before Time #1. Artist Joe Palmer and colorist Chris O'Halloran have developed a style that does an excellent job of matching the dark, gritty future vibe of this story while also giving the characters consistent expressiveness. There are some extended sequences in this debut issue that contain thoughtful movement from one panel to the next, stitching together each beat in the story perfectly and developing a compulsive read.
As far as debut issues go, Time Before Time #1 really has everything you could ask for. It wastes no time introducing its world, characters, and narrative thrust to ensure this will be a series you'll come back to time after time. It's one of the more refreshing comic books I have read in quite a while and I can't wait to see how it evolves in the future.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Published by Image Comics
On May 12, 2021
Written by Declan Shalvey and Rory McConville
Art by Joe Palmer
Colors by Chris O'Halloran
Letters by Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou
Cover by Declan Shalvey