“Dames. Dinosaurs. Danger.”
From that tagline alone my interest was piqued for reading this Hard Cover collection of Half Past Danger issues 1-6. The series is written and drawn by creator Stephen Mooney, who claims the story comes from his love of the movies his father took him to as a child. That definitely shows in this series. Take everything you have loved about any action movie you have ever seen and, chances are, you will find it in this book in one form or another. It reads quick and at the pace of a typical action movie, though I haven’t decided quite yet if it would have worked better on the silver screen than in the pages of a comic.
All the story telling elements that make a great action movie are here, you have your hero (or heroes in this case), the villain and the unimaginably action packed plot. You find yourself on a journey with Tommy “Irish” Flynn through a jungle in the South Pacific in 1943. Irish is leading his squad on a recon mission in search for the dialogue of Japanese forces. Instead, our hero finds a Nazi camp that has no reason to being there. When they decide to flank the camp to avoid confrontation due to the camps larger size, they encounter what the world had thought long since extinct… DINOSAURS! Irish loses his entire squad in a manner of minutes and finds himself running for his life with nothing but a camera to show what they had discovered.
From here the story begins. We find Irish AWOL from his post drinking away his pain and frustration. Believing no one would take his story seriously though he had the pictures to prove it, until the “Dame” walks in. The Dame is Elizabeth Moss and alongside her is a mountain of man, Captain John Noble. It seems Agent Moss would like to take Irish and go back ot the island to investigate what really happened to Irish and his squad. As you would imagine a fight breaks out Irish in his drunken state and yet another character is introduced, Ishikawa Minamoto who just so happens to be a martial arts expert (and what action movie isn’t complete without that?). Now that the team has been introduced the story starts to move along at a brisk pace.
The storytelling for this series is fairly strong, it stays true to where the basis comes from in Mooney’s love for action movies. The artwork is clean easy on the eyes and tells the story the words provide very well. The only problem I had was with the coloring. I thought for certain panels the color choices were poor John Noble seemed to blend into many of the scenes, and with his blonde hair and khaki clothing it was almost like he was a part of many of the backgrounds. Aside from that, the artistic side of this series was done very well. I have nothing but respect for someone that not only writes but also handles the art duties for any book. It takes a lot of talent to do both and to do them both well, which Mooney definitely pulls off.
You have to go into this story understanding that it is based on love for comics and action movies. There are a lot of nods to various characters or movies that have been made, and yet the story still seems to keep a sense of originality to it. I found that the characters reminded me (in both looks and attitude) of some of my favorite action heroes and comic heroes alike. Irish brought to mind everyone’s favorite everyman hero John McClane from the Die Hard movies, yet also a had a little bit of Indiana Jones mixed in as well. Ishi, well I think he pretty much was the stereotypical martial artist taking nods from Bruce Lee, Jet Li, or Jackie Chan. Take your pick, they are all there in this quiet powerhouse of a character. Then there is Captain John Noble, the genetically abnormal super soldier, born with unmatched strength and fitness, experimented on to try and create a squad of super soldiers. This was the only character I thought was though done in homage to Captain America, and was just too similar and unoriginal in form. He doesn’t don any spandex or a shield but all the elements of Steve Rogers are there. Agent Moss is like just about every Bond girl you can think of with a little bit of Black Widow thrown in there. She’s got the look, she’s got the sass and she has the attention of male members of the team.
For all that this story has to offer and all the elements it has taken from previous works of fiction either in cinema or comics it still keeps your interest. As I said, for a book designed the way this is, it did keep a sense of originality which is what kept me interested. I mean, most of us have either seen Jurassic Park or at least read the book, right? Now take that and add Die Hard, Indiana Jones and a few of your other favorite action movies and you pretty much get Half Past Danger. All in all, a quick fun action adventure comic with strong leading characters and a plot that is easy to follow. If you love the mediums of comics and action movies this is a book you will definitely want to check out!
Review by: Shane Hoffman (AKA “Hoff”)