In Review: Half Past Danger 2 #4

Fantastic in every possible way. Recommended.

The covers: Two covers for fans to collect, with each giving the reader what they want. Cover A is by Stephen Mooney with colors by Tamra Bonvillain and it’s a memorable one: Elizabeth has unzipped her tight black top and pulled it back to reveal…the title of this series. This is definitely a way to get potential readers’ attention and shows what kind of woman Elizabeth is. Plus, take a look above the title, she’s got a cigarette in her mouth to show she’s no good girl. Not to be outdone is the B cover by Mooney with Jordie Bellaire providing colors. Providing some equal time for appreciation of the sexes, this features John with his shirt wide open to display his fit chest. He’s standing against the American flag and below him the text says, “Beefcake, baby!” John looks magnificent and patriotic. Why don’t other publishers do the same with their variant covers and have the men strut their stuff like the ladies often do? Overall grades: Both A

The story: “Let’s Try That Again” is the fourth chapter of Stephen Mooney’s epic and it begins with the characters in peril. The vaccine that the heroes were trying to steal has broken open and spilled on the floor. John has been knocked out by a Nazi inside a mechwarrior suit that looks like it came out of Avatar. Tommy says he needs a second to figure out what to do next, but the Nazi wants John turned over to him now and raises the massive machine guns built into the mechanical frame and levels them upon the heroes. That’s when Ishi whistles and a familiar character comes rushing in to save the day. How this character does so on Page 3 is incredibly graphic but undeniably awesome. Tommy’s reaction is gold: “What the hell else can he do?” The characters now have to decide what to do next. Tommy says the mission is a failure because they’ve lost the vaccine and Elizabeth agrees. John’s not taking that as answer and says he’ll go out on his own to find a solution. Before he takes three steps, Ishi says, “Not alone.” He’ll accompany John as long as his faithful companion doesn’t get hurt. This rallies the rest of the team and they leave the scene to regroup. What follows is some solid drama, with the characters having issues with each other, not helping is Elizabeth’s condition. The team figures out where to go next to steal some of the vaccine and then the action kicks in to overdrive. I like how the characters learn from their previous mistakes and are willing to change their attack to be victorious. The action is excellent and the book ends on a fantastic cliffhanger that had me cheering — not because the heroes are winning, but because of what they’ll now have to overcome. This continues to be one of the most enjoyable comics on the market. The story is just flat-out fun! Overall grade: A

The art: Stephen Mooney is also the artist of this issue and he captures the time period wonderfully. Page 3 is fantastic for the details in the Nazi’s machine and how that character is taken down; if this scene were in a movie, I would stand and applaud the action. I like how Mooney can tell a story without the characters speaking; for example, the final panel on 5 communicates the female’s mood completely. Three characters are sitting around a small table on Page 7 and look at how well Mooney moves the point of view around to show how each character reacts to what’s being said. Page 9 is just as sweetly set up, though with only two characters at a table. Even if one were to look at this page without reading the dialogue (But why would you do that?), the mood of each character is strongly communicated to the reader. There’s a neat visual joke at the end of 11 that matches the dialogue perfectly. Pages 14 and 15 have the characters preparing for their mission and they consist of several close-up panels that show the characters putting on their fighting clothes and checking their weapons. It’s a great way to show them readying themselves and is very cinematic. On 17 the action begins and John enters the setting in fantastic fashion. There’s no dialogue on Page 23, thought there are some sounds, and they show John’s abilities handsomely. I also enjoyed what Elizabeth did on 22 and 25: she looks great and the people she’s talking with look absolutely realistic. It’s the final page, which is a full-paged splash, where Mooney introduces a character that’s scream worthy. Again, if this were a film, I’d stand and applaud. The design of this new character is wonderful. Overall grade: A

The colors: Triona Tree Farrell is responsible for the book’s colors and she, too, does a sensational job. On the first page notice how Elizabeth gets the brightest colors to draw the reader into the illustration, but the broken canister that contained the vaccine has a sickly green emission, reminding the reader of its importance. The next two pages use red for excellent effect: first for the S.S. banner on the mechwarrior, followed by Ishi when he whistles, and then for all the graphic actions that follow. Pages 8 – 10 are set in a dark room, allowing the characters’ faces to really shine, and Farrell does an excellent job in shading them so they appear real. When the conversation takes a dark turn on 9, notice how the table top is colored a blood red, upping the tension of the talk. John’s entrance on 17 is beautiful for the golden colors he’s given, reminding older readers of Henry W. Ralston and John L. Nanovic’s classic character. Overall grade: A

The letters: Stephen Mooney, because he’s not doing enough, is also the letterer on this book. At least I’m assuming he is, because there’s no credit given to the letterer. He’s responsible for the chapter number, the title of the story, dialogue, the mechwarrior’s speech, sounds, scene settings, yells, a whisper, and the tease for next issue. The scene settings are beautiful, launching the reader into each location with a style that resembles an action font used in serials from the 1940s. The mechwarrior’s short dialogue looks mechanical in its design. The sounds of the machine guns being fired are exemplary, though my favorite is the final page’s GGRROOOOONNKK! Overall grade: A

The final line: This is perfect escapist fare, where dinosaurs and Nazis are kept in check by superhuman men and roguish Irishmen. Fantastic in every possible way. 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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