Written by Stephen Mooney
Art by Stephen Mooney
Colors by Jordie Bellaire
Published by IDW
Stephen Mooney’s first issue of Half Past Danger arrived with a hype and fanfare more suited to a Superman Vs Thor lightsaber battle then an issue #1 from a first time Irish writer. Mooney has risen to prominence as an artist on Angel, The A Team and Teen Wolf (sadly not based on Jason Bateman’s take). Along with Will Sliney, writer of the brilliant “Celtic Warrior” and Declan Shalvey, who provides the variant covers, Mooney is one of the most recognized and respected names in Irish comics. So it is exciting to see him take the leap into creating his own title. (Published by IDW)
The premise sounds like it was created by a 10 year old after a sugar binge: dinosaurs, soldiers, ninjas, Nazis (ok, a well read 10 year old) however, it remains somehow grounded in reality. The first issue especially conveyed a boots on the ground, men on a mission feel familiar to anyone who grew up watching “The Dirty Dozen” or “Where Eagles Dare”. The action packed first issue arrived to almost unanimous praise and avoids the problem that befalls most independent comics, thinking like a smaller comic. Mooney realizes that pens and pencils are not constrained by budget, only imagination.
Mooney’s real test comes now that the buzz of his debut issue has levelled off and his readers now ask, “What’s next?” The problem with high concept comics is that once the initial novelty has died down usually there is nothing left to hold the readers interest to return. Any notions that Half Past Danger would jump the shark with its second more character based issue are instantly cast aside as Mooney instead figuratively (and in one memorable scene literally) punches the shark.
Sergeant Flynn manages to neatly sidestep what could be the textbook cliché ridden anti-hero and instead he is presented as a vulnerable guilt riddled man unable to process the events he witnessed and frustrated by his claims not being taken seriously. He is more than happy to wallow in his cloud of booze and self-pity then to seek revenge. Unfortunately for him, he is dragged back to the island to assist a covert team looking to figure out what exactly is going on with the Nazis version of Jurassic Park.
This issue swaps spectacle for storyline as we find out more snippets of what is happening on the island and who exactly is trying to stop them. The writer, showing he is equally adept at drama as well as action. In a touching scene with Flynn and John, the American Marine Captain, which hints that the two men may share a closer ideology then was first presented. Also expanded on is femme fatale Elizabeth Huntington-Moss, Flynn’s team leader, who seems to know a lot more then she is letting on. As Magneto taught us “never trust a beautiful woman”
The second issues ‘ace in the hole’ is the addition of colorist Jordie Bellaire who manages to expand and improve on issue one’s visuals by adding a depth and energy to each panel. This is never more prominent than the scene with Huntington-Moss, her hourglass figure coolly leaning against a projector wall masked with the image of one of Flynn’s tormenters. The image is layered so gloriously you half expect to find yourself engulfed by cigarette smoke just looking at it.
Half Past Danger issue 2 has defiantly simmered down after the bombastic opening issue but it is no less readable or enjoyable for it. Two issues in and it is already one of the year’s most gripping titles. Let’s hope Mooney can continue to build on the momentum he has created and continue his emergence as one of the most exciting voices in Irish comics.
4 out 5 nerds