Best Comics of May: American McGee and an All-Female X-Men
Once a month the amazing staff at 8th Dimension Comics selects a pile of the best new releases for us to peruse and judge.
Half Past Danger #1: Jeremy Bulloch of 8th Dimension Comics and I play a little game when he hands me the selections for the months books in the column; He has one sentence or one panel to convince me to try it. In the case of Stephen Mooney's Half Past Danger that sentence was, "Imagine if Indiana Jones had to fight dinosaurs." Wordlessly, it went right to the top of my pile.
The book follows a former WWII sergeant named Thomas Michael Flynn, who lost his whole platoon in the Pacific Theater when they stumbled upon a secret Nazi base surrounded by a tyrannosaur infested jungle. Only he made it out alive, and the now he spends his day drunk on survivor's guilt and brandy. It's sheer pulp genius that is instantly engaging and wonderful.
Mooney hits all the proper old-school notes. There's hulking unstoppable Aryan supermen, wily Asian kung-fu masters, a devious and mysterious femme fatale, and I really can't stress how awesome the dinosaurs are. I don't even want to keep reading this book. I want it in production as a film right this instant. Until then, get yourself hooked right now because Half Past Danger is already a summer hit in my book.
Rating: 10 of 10
Akaneiro #1: Remember American McGee? The guy who gave us those two wonderfully dark Alice games? Well, earlier this year he tackled Little Red Riding Hood and set her in feudal Japan in a PC game. I haven't played it myself, so I can't tell you how it is, but there is a companion comic written by Justin Aclin.
The story involves demonic creatures that invade Japan, and the order of Red Hunters that protects the otherwise peaceful and devout villages. Our hero Kani is a mixed child of a Red Hunter father and a Ainu mother, who leaves her village to join the hunters as a kind of emissary between the two.
It's the sort of set-up that's launched a hundred role-playing games, and indeed that's exactly what reading Akaneiro feels like. You have your opening cinematic, first boss fight with help from more advanced soldiers, the beginning of an epic journey complete with low-level enemies to practice on, hints of the final overlord boss, and collapsing then awakening in a mysterious village for the second act.
Where Half Past Danger uses such tropes very well, Aclin's book just feels somewhat predictable. This in addition to the fact that revamped fairy tales are really getting stale unless Bill Willingham is involved. It's a good genre read, but you'll not find a lot of crossover appeal.
Rating: 5 of 10