Review: Half Past Danger

What else is there left to say about IDW’s creator-owned juggernaut, other than its just been released in a glorious hardback collected form? I could go ahead and interpret Half Past Danger‘s appeal in a laptop-destroying keyboard smash of spazzing and gibberish (because it’s the only apt and professional description for HPD that’s left), or rewind back a little  and explain what the comic’s about first.

Creator Stephen Mooney’s previous tirades at IDW included drawing comic book adaptations for popular television shows. IDW’s bread and butter, for quite some time, was adapting licensed properties for the comics market, all within a spectrum of video games, animation and television. Approaching the publisher with a pitch for an original story, Mooney received IDW’s blessing to create what is essentially a labour of love and a melting pot of things that inspired the creator the most.

Cover: Half Past Danger #1

Cover: Half Past Danger #1

Half Past Danger, with a solid foundation of business savvy, marketing, and talent behind it, is a slick and jubilant piece of work. The cover is a tease; we expect plenty of World War II tropes such as gunfights and espionage, as the story opens with Sgt Tommy ‘Irish’ Flynn leading his squad through the jungles of a south Pacific island called Nusa Rumpung, only to discover a Nazi base anomalously located there. After getting photographic evidence of the base’s location, Flynn and his squad attempt to turn back, before being bloodily accosted by a Tyrannosaurus Rex. A traumatised Flynn is the only man left to escape the island with the photographs.

Only thirteen pages in so far, and the point where HPD becomes less tally ho Commando and more Wilkommen Zu Jurassic Park: What the Actual F*ck Is Going On will make your smile grow abs.

Months later and Flynn is found drunk in a New York bar by Agent Huntington-Moss and Captain John Noble, who plan to bring Flynn back into the service so he can help them discover more about the dinosaurs the Nazis are breeding on the island. The ensuing bar brawl also introduces ex-SNLF sweetheart Ishikawa Minamoto, bringing his vicious ninjutsu skills to the Allied Forces side. When the team is assembled and they’re briefed about infiltrating Nazisaurus Island the island as a four-man army, they immediately fly out to their location. Their plane is shot down by the enemy, as Noble literally flings Flynn and Minamoto out the door into the sea below to escape. Any more plot descriptions would spoil the rest of the collection, but in short the main baddie Commandant Töht is introduced, our team captures kindly palaeontologist Greta Schmidt (who under threat reveals the Nazi plot), and our band of heroes unleash hell for the rest of the book, with juicy twists and turns galore.

Presentation wise – shortly described as I’m not reviewing an indie Irish comic this time, our indigenous industry can breathe a sigh of relief safe from my wrath – HPD is flawless. Mooney juggles with a lot of typical World War II drama tropes, but keeps them fresh and hilarious in hindsight, especially with Flynn’s smartarse attitude combined with his genre-savvy remarks about the mission and people he encounters. Mooney’s artwork is also gorgeous, with breathing room for fantastic expressions and action. Colouring duties are shared, first by Mooney and then taken over by industry powerhouse Jordie Bellaire – though in later chapters the colours turn from vibrant lashings into drab pastel flats despite the tropical setting they’re in, kind of underscoring the action a little bit (the colour choices for blond characters worked well with the vibrant scheme of the earlier pages, but weren’t adjusted for pastel scenes).

As a thank-god-it-kept-its-promise refreshing read, HPD is worth every penny. Why? Because it’s nigh-on perfect, and if I had a beef with it, the epic that would ensue would warrant a 1500+ word count. Thankfully, this one ended at just over 650. Whoo!