COMIC REVIEW: Half Past Danger #1

halfpastdeadcoverDAMES. DINOSAURS. DANGER. Summer, 1943, and in the midst of a war waged by monsters, Staff Sergeant Tommy ‘Irish’ Flynn never expected to encounter a real one. But on a remote island in the South Pacific, Flynn and his squad come face-to-fanged-face with creatures long thought dead.

Check our review of Half Past Danger issue 1 by Stephen Mooney.

At the moment pulp is very much the in thing. Atomic Robo, The Black Beetle, Lobster Johnson, and most recently the sell out hit from image comics Five Ghosts have very much shown that pulp is back with a vengeance. Now joining those illustrious comics we have a new pulp adventure from Stephen Mooney Half Past Danger and a new hero in Tommy ‘Irish’ Flynn. So is Half Past Danger another pulp success or a cliffhanger too far?

Well if, like me, you were thinking ‘how could anything with a kick ass title like Half Past Danger be bad?’ then rest easy friend as this is one hell of first issue. In the space of twenty five pages we are swept off to the exotic South Pacific and the mean streets of New York. In between we get secret Nazi bases, hard bitten GI’s, a damsel who is anything but in distress, a fast talking Tommy gun wielding hero, a bucket load of action oh and lets mention them again DINOSAURS!

It’s clear from the first page that Mooney not only loves pulps but he understands them. There is a certain rhythm and flow to telling this kind of tale and in issue 1 Mooney is certainly the Maestro. Tommy Flynn aka ‘Irish’ is in the best tradition of pulp heroes a wrong guy in the wrong place. He’s not a treasure hunter or a costumed mystery man he’s just simple solider who likes a a fight and a drink but not necessarily in that order. He’s not ready for what he and his team come across and we get a glimpse of the toll it takes on him in the second half of the book. I hope this is something that is explored in the future issues. Some of the best pulp heroes, no matter what weird gadgets are great not because of their skills but the vulnerability at the heart of their heroics which bring us to our feet cheering. What’s great about Flynn is that while being gruff and a tad prickly he’s a very likable character from the offset and you’re rooting him and his men before you now it. For you hard core pulp fans Flynn actually reminded me a little of Jake Cutter from the old Tales of the Gold Monkey TV Series, all Flynn needed was a seaplane and dog with one eye and he would have been all set.

When I first started reading the issue #1 it felt like a typical war story to begin with and given some of the stuff I had seen on Stephen’s site in the run up to seeing the first issue I began to wonder if this was the comic I thought it would be. Its a great set up as it lulled me into a false sense of security which sat there right until our boys run across the aforementioned Nazi base and then we descend straight into a tale that feels straight out of a Republic serial.

The first issue serves very much as a platform to introduce us to Flynn and some of the other main characters who were just as engaging in the limited time we spend with them. There still a huge veil of secrecy over what’s going on but that choice works well and really give it the story that cliffhanger feel. Yes some of the dialogue and scenes you can see coming a mile off but for me that is the beauty of true pulp adventure in that it’s always giving you a knowing wink, always making sure it’s tongue is firmly in cheek.

The art for Half Past Danger is stellar. Bright, colorful and loud with some great detail, especially in the early jungle scenes where you can almost feel the sweat creeping down your back as unsorted insects dive bomb you from every angle. However it was the the action sequences which really bring the comic to life, the moves, the choice of panel angle all show that knowledge of how to tell this kind of adventure. One scene in particular with Flynn facing of against a veritable man mountain, with reminded me of Doc Savage. The opening moves of the fight echoed Indy’s fight against that giant Nazi who ends up kissing the wrong end of a flying wing propeller in Raiders of the Lost Ark. This sequence becomes part of a massive bar fight which was my highpoint for the comic in terms of the art, which manages to showcase straight up brawling, martial arts and still get a few laughs in as well.

Looking at some of the character designs in the back matter and upcoming covers ( including a lovely alternate cover by Tommy Lee Edwards)it looks like the world of Half Past Danger is going to get a lot crazier and I can’t wait. If Mooney is able to keep up this level of finesse in his art and writing then this is going to be one hell of a pretty comic once all the six issues are out. I’ve got my fingers crossed for some sort of hardcover edition as I would pick that up in a heartbeat.

Half Past Danger showcases what is great about pulp adventure when it’s handled by a fan of the genre with the technical and creative weight to back up his lofty ambitions.

 

Rating: 5/5
Reporter: Nuge

Half Past Danger will be out on 22nd May and the monthly. For you Diamond folks you can order a copy with a Regular cover: MAR130351 and subscriber/pre-order variant: MAR130352

You can also stay up to date on the comic and see loads of pages from issue 1 and the future issues (if you don’t mind spoliers) on Stephen’s blog.

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