First issues can be a tough sell for any comic and that’s why we like to pull our resources and offer as many opinions about an issue as possible. The charm of a group review is that there are things that everyone picks up on and things that we all see different. With that said the writers of Comic Bastards have come together to review Half Past Danger and will each be giving it a score of: Buy, Borrow or Pass. Before we dig into the reviews though, here’s a quick blurb about the boom from IDW: DAMES. DINOSAURS. DANGER. Summer, 1943, and in the midst of a war waged by monsters, Staff Sergeant Tommy ‘Irish’ Flynn never expected to encounter a real one. But on a remote island in the South Pacific, Flynn and his squad come face-to-fanged-face with creatures long thought dead.
Half Past Danger starts off as one thing, becomes something else entirely (with dinosaurs!) and finally settles into something even more different, the overall effect of which equals pretty fun times! With story elements like espionage, super soldiers, anachronistic technology, mother-fucking dinosaurs and a stereotypical drunk Irishman, mixed in with a high-energy, Poppy visual style, this sort of feels like a slightly more reserved Steranko SHIELD book ... and I likes it, I do! Going in, however, I wasn’t so sure, thanks to its first phase as a pretty banal WWII book, but as soon as the Tyrannosaurus Rex starts eating the fuck out of the army ... well, who wouldn’t be sold on that? Again, this feels very, very familiar, but it’s hard not to get swept up in this clear team-building book, which, after its muted start, never slows down, particularly in its action. My only real gripe is with some of the book’s coloring, which at times comes across as pallid and lazy, but if you like machine guns vs. dinosaurs and fights that feature a bar filled with Irish soldiers vs. Steve Rogers and Bruce Lee, then you might want to pick this little guy up. Oh, and also? That last page, in particular its final panel, is pretty damn spectacular. Pimms?
Stephen Mooney does everything including writing, illustrating, creating, and selling you this book at the local comic book store. Whew. That guy’s earning his pay. In the South Pacific in 1943, a band of American soldiers uncover a Nazi camp. Unable to fight, the men retreat to a nearby jungle to await reinforcements. That’s when the GI’s run into a dinosaur. Yeah, this book just got awesome. Throw a dinosaur into anything, and I am a happy reviewer. Don’t believe me? See what it did for Kiss Solo #3.
Did you ever see Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah? I can’t help but thinking of the scene where the Japanese forces on the Pacific island come across the Godzillasaurus that helps them. Anyways, the men square off against the dinosaur. Okay, stop reading this review and go buy this book. Buy three copies. It’s funny, exciting, and well-written. The artwork is solid, and has the look and feel of a pulp-novel of the twenties with modern influences. I can’t wait to continue reading this series!
It seems like there’s a lot of WW2 or 1930s era pulp adventure comics coming out these days and Half Past Danger is firmly entrenched in that genre, telling a ‘Dirty Dozen’ style war story with a ‘Jurassic Park’ twist. For a first issue it's quite light on plot, though there's an enjoyable dinosaur/jungle-chase sequence and an extended fight sequence to cap the issue. The walk-and-talk scene and the final fight could perhaps have been a little shorter to allow for another scene but to be fair to Stephen Mooney it's all in service of good fun and establishes the identities and surface characteristics of the “team” the series seems likely to be following in future issues.
I like Mooney’s precise line work and the way he frames his panels, contrasting areas of heavy shadow and open space. His action sequences pack a lot of punch too, especially when the (minor spoiler alert) T-Rex busts in on the soldiers and Mooney really cuts loose with his layouts, showing the confidence to let his inks go a little wilder on the page. Aside from a couple of awkwardly phrased passages of dialogue I think Mooney’s writing is generally pretty good, giving his artwork plenty opportunities to shine and trusting the reader to pick up the story without too much exposition, but overall I thought this issue is a little too decompressed for my taste. Maybe it suffers, in my mind, from being the latest of many pulp comics I've read or reviewed in the last few months.
Half Past Danger tackles a hell of a lot and I’m happy to say, does a hell of a lot right. Dinosaurs, Nazis, super Brits, it’s all there. And despite how it may sound I felt a refreshing amount of purposeful direction on this comic. It’s doing a lot or at least being versatile but it knows just what it wants and gives us just enough of each thing to inspire intrigue. Pair that with a cool hero in Sargent Thomas Flynn and some pretty damn awesome art by Stephen Moony and a fit for the Bond universe aesthetic and this book ends up being a hell of a ride.
This issue’s main job was introduction. We see dinosaurs attacking WW II soldiers in the South Pacific, a ninja appear in a bar fight, an alcoholic vet, and a woman admiring her nails while the boys discuss business by bashing each other’s heads in. We start to see some character development and a basis for the adventures about to come. The art gives a certain vibe of Indiana Jones, which gets me pumped for archeological missions. I always enjoy the knowledge that comes along with comics, movies, and books that explore history. I hope Half Past Danger can capture that same respectable genre. I think this series will be tight once it gets off the ground, but for now the issue is a borrow.
Thomas Michael Flynn is a man after my own heart! What a great character. He gets thrown through a window and he bums a drag off of a bum’s cigarette before jumping back inside to continue the fight. What’s not to love about this guy? Half Past Danger was way more than I was expecting it to be. Nazis, Dinosaurs and a golden age backdrop, I fell hard for this title.
Admittedly I hated the first pages and didn’t shed a tear when the rookie was eaten because he was a pecker-head. Everything after that was very cool and the pacing kept the book going. I enjoyed the over the top characters and the fantastic art. I don’t know why this book was under hyped, but I hope that you’ll check it out and see why this formula really does work.
"Half Past Danger: Extra Pulp!” sorry, just thinking about what that would look like on an orange juice carton. Anyways, this was a really fun read and was a great intro to what seems like is going to be an interesting six issue mini-series. Since getting into comics I've really enjoyed old timey, action packed stories, that are set in the 40's-50's. Half Past Danger being set in WWII was just an added bonus for me, and it having elements of sci-fi with the addition of the dinosaurs was like combining Christmas and my birthday all in one.
It's clear that Stephen Mooney is a man of many talents seeing that the book was created, written, and drawn all by him. Although many people in the comic industry try to wear all three of those hats at once, many of them don't do half as well as creating a total package that you can really sink your teeth into. At this point you have to be thinking, "What the fuck does he mean by borrow?" Well to be honest I feel that this would be great when completed in a nice hardcover or trade paperback edition, it's nothing that is a must have for your collection as far as single issues are concerned.
Score: 4 Buys and 2 Borrows
Writer/Artist/Creator: Stephen Mooney Publisher: IDW Publishing Price: $3.99 Release Date: 5/22/13