In Review: Half Past Danger 2 #3

Fun characters, engaging action, and sumptuous visuals make this one of the best books to pick up.

The covers: A twosome to track down for this issue. The A cover is by Stephen Mooney with colors by Tamra Bonvillain. This is a gorgeous piece with a cherry blossom tree dominating the image, its branches parting in the upper left to allow the title to appear. Below sits Ishi with his pet raptor, looking upon a beautiful valley. This is pretty piece, but doesn’t capture the flavor of this issue at all. The B cover has a better tone. Tommy turns to look behind him, at the reader, communicating that he’s officially out of his depth: two raptors are charging at him from either side, while before him struts a monstrous mechsuit worn by a Nazi — and there are two ninjas dropping down to flank the huge machine. This cover is by Nick Roche with colors by Triona Tree Farrell and is the one I picked up. Overall grades: A B and B A

The story: Ishikawa’s pet dinosaur is lunging at Tommy, who barely falls back at time to avoid the creature’s jaws. He picks up a rifle and uses it to smack the beast down. Before he can raise the weapon on the monster, Elizabeth yells at him not injure the dino, prompting him to respond, “HIM? WHADDABOUT ME?!” The pet rises and runs after his prey, who makes his way to the top of a tree full of cherry blossoms. Before the maddened creature can ascend he stops when he hears his name from his master. He races over to Ishikawa who tells Spot that he’s okay. On the ground, Spot sniffs Tommy. Irish is angy at Ishi for “goin’ native” and wants to go some place where they can talk. Tommy, Elizabeth, and John join Ishi and his family and come to a decision about how they can steal the vaccine from the villains. The conversations have very funny moments since Tommy can’t speak Japanese and people decide to speak so that he can’t understand them. One of Ishi’s family members joins the group in their task, though this individual doesn’t seem trustworthy. A one page interlude shows the villain of the series on Nusa Rampling Island continuing to push for faster results to their schemes. Meanwhile back in Japan, the group gets to their destination and things quickly go wrong, including the huge hulking machine suit teased on the B cover. Something shocking occurs on Page 22 to one of the characters and everything goes wrong on the final page. This was another great installment from writer Stephen Mooney. Overall grade: A

The art: Stephen Mooney the artist is just as good as Mooney the writer. Spot is a terrific terrible lizard and his brief escape at the book’s opening with Tommy looks terrific. I especially like the way Spot is drawn when chasing after prey. Helping the dinosaur look fierce is the, rightful, look of sheer terror on Tommy’s face. The conversation with Ishi and his family takes place over seven pages and could have been a visual disaster since it’s people sitting at a table talking, but Mooney knows how to make a discussion engaging. Characters’ faces have great emotions to punch up what is said and unsaid, with the latter looking very sharp in the fourth panel on Page 7. The silent look of coy acknowledgement in the fourth panel on 8 is also a winner, as are the reactions that follow in the fifth panel. The back and forth layout on 9 makes the dialogue tense, with close-ups revealing how individuals feel about one person. The large panel on 12 is gorgeous, making two leading characters look incredibly strong, with one character’s exit on the page especially cool. The double-paged panel on 18 and 19 is a wonderful “Uh-oh” moment, with the gigantic machine, flanked by several assassins. The action that comes after these pages is extremely fast paced with Mooney choreographing the fight spectacularly, with one hero having some major moves. This book continues to look impressive. Overall grade: A

The colors: The work of Triona Tree Farrell is a good match for the book’s visuals. The colors heighten scenes and assist the book’s tone considerably. Tommy’s scenes with Spot in the opening start things with a lot of energy because of the orange and yellow used as the dino attacks and is rebuffed. The pinks on the cherry blossom instant teleport the reader across the Pacific, but look at the great shadow work achieved with colors in the third panel on Page 3. The long discussion in the Minamoto farmhouse has some excellent lighting effects achieved with colors, and the characters’ eyes really stand out on these pages, allowing readers to access what each is feeling. The single page set on Nusa Rampling Island has some great colors starting with a dark, ominous scene, transitioning to a sickly green, and ending with a blood red carpet. The door that the heroes have to enter is also delightfully crimson, which should be a signal to the characters and readers that something terrible is on the other side. This deadly red continues on two markings on the mechanical suit’s shoulders. The action scenes are an explosion in yellow and red. Farrell is blasting this book into the stratosphere with her colors. Overall grade: A

The letters: There is still no credited person for the letters, so I’m going to continue to assume that it’s also Mooney. This book’s text includes dino roars, story title, yells, dialogue, whispers, scene settings, sounds, and the tease for next issue. The whisper that Tommy states in the final panel on Page 3 is noteworthy not only for it’s size, but for it using lower case letters which makes it stand out. There are several sounds, big and large, in this issue, but the one at the bottom of 6 is perfect and funny. Several yells in this book are also great, with them being in different sized fonts to show the level of each holler. The tease for next issue is in a classical looking font that evokes the bygone era that this story is set. Whoever the letterer is, he or she is doing a great job. Overall grade: A

The final line: Two allies are gathered for a mission that goes horribly wrong in the largest possible way. Fun characters, engaging action, and sumptuous visuals make this one of the best books to pick up. Recommended. Overall grade: A

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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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