Advance Review: A Detective Story In `Time Before Time’ #12

by Tom Smithyman


Regular readers will find a welcome diversion in this installment. Instead of the usual frenetic time-travel story, issue #12 is an interlude that explores the impact of time travel on those who aren’t chronically displaced. It’s a solid detective story that cleanly fits into the overall narrative.


The highly serialized, chronologically mixed-up series Time Before Time takes a breather in issue #12 to tell an old-fashioned detective story.

Instead of the usual time-skipping adventures and out-of-place robots and anti-heroes, this chapter follows FBI agent Alex Sunap, who is searching for his missing partner, Nadia Wells. As regular readers know, Nadia has escaped back in time. But the impact of that decision is felt in 2141, where her partner is feeling abandoned and is getting increasingly desperate to find her.

Aptly named “The Ones We Leave Behind” by writers Declan Shalvey and Rory McConville, this chapter is filled with the trappings of a normal cop story – the good, but troubled detective; the family he leaves at home; the uncooperative boss; a larger mysterious threat. Still, it’s a nice departure from the main story’s journey through the past and present. In fact, with one small, but important exception, there’s no time travel in this segment. In lesser writers’ hands, it could feel like an abandonment of the series’ premise. But with Shalvey and McConville at the helm, it’s a welcome interlude that should enrich the complete tale.

Guest artist PJ Holden, known for his work on Judge Dredd and Soul Plumber, pitches in to draw this issue. Regular artist Joe Palmer left the series with the last issue, and new illustrators will complete the remain story arcs. While Palmer’s unique style is difficult to replicate, Holden does a great job of making this stand-along story feel visually related to the larger tale.

Issue #12 is a welcome diversion from the sometimes-confusing time-skipping story. It will be interesting to see what Shalvey and McConville have in story for the chrononauts in the upcoming story arc.

Time Before Time #12 will be available for purchase on May 11, 2022.

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