Friday, June 2, 2017


Created, Written, and Drawn by Stephen Mooney
Colors by: Stephen Mooney (#1) & Jordie Bellaire (#2 - 6)
Edits by Chris Ryall & Chris Schraff

HALF PAST DANGER opens in 1943 as a group of U.S. Army soldiers patrols a tropical island which they quickly find to be occupied by A) Nazis and B) dinosaurs. The entire unit is wiped out save for its commander, Sergeant Tommy "Irish" Flynn, who manages an escape. The story picks up some time later as Flynn is recruited by British agent Elizabeth Huntington-Moss to join her team in returning to the island to investigate further. The group is rounded out by Captain John Noble of the U.S. Army and Ishikawa Minamoto, a Japanese defector who happens to also be a ninja.

Our heroes reach the island, meet a German scientist named Greta, and come into conflict with the Nazis, who are loading the dinosaurs into a train, and ultimately onto a boat, in order to return them to Germany. But when the group heads aboard the Nazi ship, we learn that one of our heroes is a traitor, and that the dinosaurs are merely a red herring for the Nazis' true goal -- the capture of Captain Noble.

Ultimately the Nazis are defeated and our heroes rescued by the United States, and we're promised that "Half Past Danger Will Return".

Well, I doubt I'll be along for that ride. As noted a couple weeks, back, this was really just an impulse buy for me when I checked out an IDW sale on Comixology. The collected edition's cover promised "dames, dinosaurs, and danger" and while all three are prevalent in the story, there just wasn't enough of any of it to keep my attention. I like the concept in theory -- a dinosaur-infested island discovered by Nazis during World War II is a fantastic idea, and fits with Hitler's interest in the unusual -- and Stephen Mooney's story is fine. HALF PAST DANGER reads, as I'm sure he intended, like a summer popcorn movie with bold action, diabolical villains, and a decent character arc for the protagonist, Flynn.

But despite all that, something just didn't click for me. Partly I think it's Mooney's artwork. He's not a bad artist by any means, and he draws the heck out of the dinosaurs -- but none of his humans have particularly memorable visuals, and his action is mostly rather stiff. I can't help thinking this story would've worked better drawn in a cartoonier, more energetic style rather than Mooney's photorealistic approach (and that's no knock against photorealism in general; I have something to say about that very topic this coming Sunday). In all, I find Mooney's covers and promo art much more appealing and exciting than his interiors to the point that it's almost like night and day. The interiors practically look like they're drawn by a different artist. The colors are awfully drab, too -- a brighter, more exciting palette might have spruced up Mooney's art and made it a bit more interesting.

The script is mostly fine, though Flynn's phonetic Irish accent gets a little grating at times, particularly his nonstop use of the exclamations "shite" and "jaysus". But Mooney himself is Irish, so I guess I can't complain too much if this is the approach he prefers.

All that said, I do like a lot of the characters. As noted above, Flynn has a fine arc, going from shell-shocked survivor to reluctant team member, to so invested in the mission that he's willing to sacrifice himself to stop the Nazis. And I like Captain Noble quite a bit. He's clearly Mooney's tribute to Captain America; a mutant of sort by birth, he's stronger and faster than any other man and possesses quite the healing factor, to boot. Ishikawa is fun as well -- it's hard not to like a ninja assassin working with the U.S. during World War II. Agent Huntington-Moss, working toward her own mysterious agenda, is a decent femme fatale, though Mooney's depictions of her are never what I would call especially sexy.

Nazis always make for excellent villains, and that holds true here as well, though I question Mooney's decision to name the lead Nazi Toht. Obviously an homage to RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK, but it just feels a bit too "on the nose" for my liking. Still, he's a perfectly despicable bad guy, the sort you love to hate and can't wait to see killed in the end (and when he does meet his demise, it's all one could hope for).

But, like I said -- for whatever reason, HALF PAST DANGER just doesn't float my boat. The cover intrigued me, as did the concept, but despite my best efforts, I couldn't get into it. I think I was expecting "Indiana Jones with Dinosaurs", and with apologies to Mr. Toht, that's not exactly what we got here. I see the second volume of Mooney's series is due out this year, and I hope it does well because it's clear he has a great deal of love for his characters and his subject matter, but I'm going to call it quits right here with volume one.


  1. // I like the concept in theory -- a dinosaur-infested island discovered by Nazis during World War II is a fantastic idea //

    You might enjoy the Dinosaur Island stories in Showcase Presents: The War that Time Forgot, depending on how you feel about Silver Age DC. I’ve only read a couple examples of the feature in comics that I picked up over the years and don’t remember enough to speak to the quality. Most stuff from that era is short, fun if just for the weirdness level, and best read not too many in a row. There was a miniseries not quite a decade ago that involved several of DC’s non-superhero adventure characters of similar vintage, which I also haven’t read but which is presumably more like Half Past Danger than it is the source feature due to its long-form story and modern creative approach. I see the first of two volumes collecting it is steeply discounted on Amazon right now.

    1. I like some Silver Age DC. I would probably enjoy a war comic more than some of their superhero output. I tend to think Superman and Batman were a bit too silly back then, at least in the fifties. I like the "New Look" Batman stuff drawn by Carmine Infantino much better. (Though as a kid, I loved the fifties Batman stories in my GREATEST BATMAN STORIES EVER TOLD book. It was only later on that I began to view them as kind of hokey.)


    2. I loved the ones in my copy of Batman from the Thirties to the Seventies as a kid, plus any reprints from that era in contemporary giant-sized comics — the weirder the better, Bat-Mite and time travel and whatever — but I loved them as fun, historical oddities that were clearly of another time and not present-day Batman as rendered by Aparo, Giordano, Adams, Novick, etc. Although there was kooky stuff in just the recent past then as well, like the Super-Sons tales in World’s Finest, which I loved too despite them being some odd parallel-universe thing. Batman has always been a mélange of different styles to me, perhaps more than any other character, all the good stuff — including the sixties live-action series and seventies Saturday-morning cartoons — being valid “Batman” in its own way... but that’s enough thread drift for now. 8^)