In Review: Half Past Danger 2 #1

A dream come true for fans of classic adventure.

The covers: It was the imagery on the A Cover by Stephen Mooney with colors by Tamra Bonvillain that got me to pick this book up. I’m a tremendous fan of Indiana Jones and have been suffering through the longest dry spell as Marvel decides what they’re going to do with the archaeologist. The frontman of this group is Tommy “Irish” Flynn. To his right is the massive John Noble, while to his left is Ishikawa Minamoto and his pet Tyrannosaurus. Behind them, holding a pistol, is Elizabeth Huntington-Moss. The setting is the Austrian Alps. The characters look fantastic, standing ready for the action that lies within. The B cover is by Nick Runge and looks like a movie poster that would make Drew Struzan proud. Irish is the key character, he now with a pistol close to his chest. In front of him is a full figure of Elizabeth, a plane speeding off before her to escape the flames that are roaring up. Behind Irish to his left is a somber John looking downward at a speeding plane, which matches the one before Elizabeth. At the top is the skull of T-Rex, while at the bottom is Ishikawa in camouflage sporting a sword above him. This is a terrific image and should be a poster, print, and/or tee shirt. The final cover is the Incentive cover by Declan Shelvey with colors by Jordie Bellaire. This has Irish leaping up to take aim at the reader with a rifle. Behind him, on a tan surface, are illustrations of the Alps and a Pteranodon. Decent, but I wanted Irish to be more centered. Overall grades: A A, B A+, and Incentive C+

The story: Stephen Mooney starts this sequel with a two page summary of the previous series. As someone who, unfortunately, did not pick it up, this is a terrific way to bring new readers up to date with the characters and their conflicts. After this the story begins. For reviewing purposes, I’ll be referring to the page that states Chapter One Return To Sender as Page 1. In the Alps a gigantic castle is the setting and a figure comes crashing backwards out a window. It’s Irish, who tries to raise himself to his feet. Before he can do so he’s grabbed from behind and dragged back into the structure where a room full of Nazis resume their interrogation of him. When they ask why he’s at the castle, he responds with sarcasm, earning a hard right to his face. Spitting blood, he says, “Look, I told ye. We heard reports of German troop movements in the area; came to check it out. That’s it. Turns out there were spot on, yeah?” The Nazis don’t believe him, after all, he wouldn’t have come alone. This causes the leader to take pause. “There have been reports…but no. That particular Irishman is always accompanied by –” “A big feckin’ American?” Irish finishes with a bloody smile. The conversations continues until someone enters the room in dramatic fashion. John and Irish make a good team, with the Irishman always getting the short end of the stick, though he is obviously the brains of the pair. It was neat to see how Elizabeth is introduced into the tale, with a very surprising action sequence. There’s a brief interlude on Nusa Rampung Island where something terrible is coming to pass. This is only two pages, though, and the focus returns to the men who have a function to go to that’s going to cause one some distress. The final three pages have a sensational gathering, with one stating something shocking. Mr. Mooney, you’ve hooked me completely. After this one issue, I want to you work on this series forever. Overall grade: A

The art: Stephen Mooney is also the artist of this series, creating a realistic look that has the visuals appear as though they’re from film cels. The opening two pages concisely show the reader who the players are in this saga as well as several action sequences. Because of this opening, I had no trouble identifying who was who in this tale. The first page shows the Alps and the castle, reminding me of certain archaeologist whose films begin similarly. Irish’s entrance to the story is great, with his conversation with the Nazis being equally well done. It’s within the castle that Mooney shows himself to not only be a good character artist but an excellent illustrator of settings. Mooney also moves the point of view around well, with the close-ups to show Irish doesn’t feel he’s losing to these foes and pulling back to show where everyone is standing, so that when an action sequence breaks out the reader knows where all the participants begin. The action is sensational, with my favorite panel being the swing of the rifle on Page 8 panel two. There’s some great text-free characterization in this story as well, such as Elizabeth being silent when she first appears and John’s awkwardness at the issue’s final location. I’m a sucker for a WWII story and every element of the visuals capture that era so well; from the general and his office to the final location, this looks great. Looking at this book has inspired me to dig out my Terry and the Pirates books to bask in their beauty. If a modern book can create a desire to seek out the work of Milton Caniff, the artist must be doing an exceptional job. Overall grade: A

The colors: But wait! Stephen Mooney is also the colorist of this book! The flashback pages of the book are done in terrific blacks, whites, and grays to give the appearance of old film footage for the reader, transitioning into a cream colored sky that shows the Alps in shaded, cool grays. The scene settings are easily found by the bright yellow boxes that contain them, as well as the bright red letters for the first words within them. Irish’s introduction is a brown stain of discolor on the white snow, which suits his personality. The Nazi’s flag and armbands are neon reds that always remind the reader whom the heroes are dealing with. Gunfire and punches land with an off-yellow that suits their explosive natures. The brightest colors are shown in the greens of the distant island, and that is a terrific match for the life that is reawakening there. The final ten pages of the book use the colors of the time and they are outstanding. The outfit on the woman who appears on the final three pages is colored exceptionally in a burning scarlet. Mr. Mooney, what can’t you do? Overall grade: A

The letters: Mooney probably collapsed before the board for doing so much on this book, leaving Triona Tree Farrell to do the lettering. She, like Mooney, does a great job on this book. Scene settings, dialogue, weak dialogue, whispers, sounds, groans, yells, the book’s credits, and the tease for next issue are her contributions. The yells are terrific, with there being a variety of them, to show the reader the different intensities of the hollers, with my favorite at the bottom of Page 5 — a perfect match for the visual. I’m really looking forward to seeing what she’ll bring to future issues as the action only looks to intensify. Overall grade: A

The final line: I never picked up the first series and after reading this book, I have to get the collection as soon as possible. You’ve not seen action until you’ve read Half Past Danger 2. Action, adventure, femme fatales Nazis, dinosaurs, spies, and dynamite leads. A dream come true for fans of classic adventure. Overall grade: A

To purchase a copy go to http://www.idwpublishing.com/product/half-past-danger-ii-dead-to-reichs-1/

To see the covers visit my Instagram account: patrickhayesscifipulse

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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