Nazis? Dinosaurs? How can this go wrong? Well, quite simply: it can’t. Stephen Mooney has written a truly outstanding and damn fun story in Half Past Danger.
World War II has to be one of the best milieus for story creation. It’s totally pulp-era style fiction, but because of the presence of so much actual heroism in this time period in addition to the historicity, you discover a degree of reality that makes the fantasy truly acceptable. Even if you take a World War II setting and add some really outlandish stuff like a mysterious island in the Pacific populated by Nazis performing research on a group of dinosaurs that have somehow survived into the modern age, you still want to suspend your disbelief and imagine: what if?
Released in hardcover format at the end of this month, it’s been described as a “World War II story meets Indiana Jones.” Not too far off the mark, but to be a little more accurate, I’d also have to add a little bit of Jurassic Park and perhaps a little Doc Savage into the mix as well. I mean, you have one tough-as-nails soldier, a Japanese ninja defector, a genetically anomalous super-man who could put Captain America to shame, and a mysterious but beautiful British Intelligence operative – this could have come out of a 1940s dime store novel and then turned into a film by Steven Spielberg.
However oddball this combination may seem, it does not diminish the rich and glorious adventure of the book. Mooney is a real example of a writer/artist just having pure fun with his work. It’s a very fast read with lots of rolling and rollicking adventure, a perfect read regardless of the mood you’re in. This is a comic story true to the medium and the occasional story surprise that trips you up and sends you falling in another direction before you know it.
This is a hardcover that you want to buy, not simply to add to your collection, but because it’s just pure entertainment. This is the type of comic I used to love when I was a kid – fast, engaging and with enough real historical information in the background to add some verisimilitude for reference and good measure.
The characters of Irish, John Noble, Ishikawa and Agent Moss are so delightfully pulp while also being truly compelling, I feel like I didn’t get enough of Ishikawa’s or Moss’s background. There are obviously other stories that Mooney could craft around these incredibly rich heroes, so I love that he sets the end of story up for more possible adventures with them in the future.
The only way that this book can go wrong is if you let it get past you.