May 25, 2013

IDW Reviews: Half Past Danger #1

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Written by: Jeff Lake
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Half Past Danger #1
Writer: Stephen Mooney
Artist: Stephen Mooney
Publisher: IDW

Let’s get this out of the way: you should already own IDW’s Half Past Danger. You don’t? Go get it, I’ll wait. Back? Good. You’re welcome.

Seriously readers, this book has everything: dinosaurs, Nazis, bar fights, ninjas, DINOSAURS. If a jet-pack had been worked in somehow I likely would have passed out from too much nerd happy. Writer/artist Stephen Mooney has crafted a rollicking first issue that only gets better with every page. This book is everything a comic should be. Well written, precisely plotted, and above all, fun.

Half Past Danger reads like Spielberg on crack. It’s as if the famed director took Jurassic Park and Indiana Jones, took all the best parts, and tossed them in a blender. The result is a glorious marriage of pulp war story and survival fantasy escapism, and it’s just as good as it sounds. Set in war torn 1943, the story introduces us to Staff Sergeant Tommy ‘Irish’ Flynn and his ragtag squad as they trek across a seemingly unoccupied island. Soon enough they realize there are enemies in their midst (those are the Nazis), as well as a few long thought extinct surprises (guess who!). The book then flashes forward to New York a few months after the war, where a mysterious British agent and her American compatriot try to convince Flynn to join…something. Yep, not a lot is explained in this first issue, but it’s so damn entertaining that it doesn’t even matter.

A debut comic with no tie-ins or associations has to start out strong, and Mooney succeeds in every regard. The script is decidedly old school cool, with steely dames and lantern-jawed men too stupid to back down from a fight. The cast is quite eclectic and immediately engaging, and Mooney directs them with a film-like flourish. Though his characters are rather archetypal – the rakish Flynn, no nonsense American, unruffled British lady boss – Mooney makes them each interesting so as to enjoy their structure. The writer also showcases a real gift for dialog as he realistically gives his characters a number of different accents and dialects, none of which feel absurd or out of place. From the steady banter of the soldiers to the wise ass retorts of hero Flynn, Mooney imbues such life into his creations that it’s almost sad to see them eaten by carnivorous lizards. Almost.

Though the words are great, it’s clear the creator wants to start his series with a visual bang, and he does. Dino fights, foot chases, lots and lots of torso chomping; this is a summer blockbuster in comic form. Mooney’s art matches the tone of the story flawlessly, as everything from the style to the colorization screams pulp. He captures the look and feel of the wartime 1940s easily, his lush jungles and checkered suits a snapshot of bygone days. Hairstyles, military dress, streets and buildings, every little detail is firmly encapsulated. Mooney’s gift for direction also extends to his art as his action sequences play out with cinematic zest. His panels are exciting and well placed, and I found myself going back time and again to absorb every subtle artistic choice. Oh, and he draws dinosaurs like a BOSS.

As far as comics go, you can’t do much better than Half Past Danger. If you’re a fan of thrilling adventure, white-knuckle action, and great characterization, then this book is for you. If not, I want to know, who hurt you? This cleverly crafted debut is a true joy, and you can see the love Mooney has for it in every panel. Half Past Danger #1 is light in plot, heavy on dinosaurs, and by sheer fun alone has my money for the next installment.

Jeff Lake


One Comment

  1. Adam

    Sounds like this would make one hell of a movie! Another great review, thanks!

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