Time Before Time: All Apologies (#6) – Declan Shalvey, Rory McConville

3 out of 5

I think this one-shot is more what I wanted from the first arc of Time Before Time: an exploration of the way The Syndicate works in its time-relocation shufflings. All Apologies isn’t exactly a deep-dive into that – it’s a one-shot, after all – but the isolated look at some thugs being tasked to track down a wayward member in 1994 gives the organization the sense of stakes that were lacking in the opening; if this had been paired with a more drawn out introduction to our lead characters, I think it could’ve resulted in a more impactful form of the story it told, once pushed to a followup arc. Even the single tossed-off line here about the way paradoxes work (or don’t work) – that we can’t change time; time changes us – is more effective than how the preceding issues essentially just skirted the concept entirely.

That said, this issue is also unfortunately hindered in its effectiveness by not being tied to the lead-in arc. Like, there’s not really a point to the issue, except to come as a pause between storylines.

I can understand all of this as being the nature of comics, though. The second arc is never guaranteed, so the first arc has to be self-contained and arrive with a bang, and that’s what Rory and Declan did. Now, some breathing room through the next arc earned, they can slow it down a bit and offer up an issue like this – and hopefully a bit more paced story in the forthcoming arc. And despite me heading out of the gate with all complaints, this issue is enjoyable – as stated, it’s more along the lines of what I wanted – but it could also be said to be completely unreliant on any of the setup we’ve had; you can pretty much get the gist of what’s what from this story alone.

Shalvey handles art on this, and smartly sticks with Joe Palmer’s more simplified style. The cinematic angles are Shalvey’s though, giving the book a unique and yet unified feel. Chris O’Halloran’s colors are perhaps more suited to Palmer’s though, at least in how he’s coloring this series – Shalvey’s slightly more detailed look I think required a bit more grounding and roughness in the colors. It’s a handsome looking book, but a little off here and there.

Still an interesting world, and still very on board to see what’s happening next.