18th Oct2017

‘Dan Dare #1′ Review (Titan Comics)

by Dean Fuller

Written by Peter Milligan | Art by Alberto Foche | Published by Titan Comics

Dan_Dare_Cover_B_Alberto_Fouche

When it comes to my comic book reading preferences, I have always been an unashamed fan of American comic books. I read my first Superman story at the age of 6 and never looked back. At that time though, in the late 1970′s, American comic books weren’t always that easy to find, and 2000AD was a little bit beyond me at first (although that changed in the Eighties ). What I could find however were copies of The Eagle, the now legendary British weekly comic, starring a certain Dan Dare. Sure, he wasn’t quite Superman, who is, but he was to my young eyes pretty cool nonetheless.

Since then I have always had a soft spot for Dan Dare, and when he has periodically been relaunched, and reappeared in various comics and magazines I have usually had a glance. When this popped up, so did my interest once again, especially as it was being written by a personal favourite of mine Peter Milligan. I was more than curious to see how Milligan, not renowned for his subtlety when playing with established characters, would approach Dan Dare. Complete reboot? incorporate some of his history? All of it? I was also curious to see how artist Alberto Foche would do, as I am more a fan of the traditional, clean line art on Dan Dare that Dave Gibbons kept going in 2000AD.

A nice little recap at the start of the issue tells us that the Space Fleet, of which Dan Dare is a pilot, has kept the Earth Alliance safe for the last decade, defeating both domestic and alien threats. Dan’s team includes Engineer Digby, Scientist Dr Jocelyn Peabody, and Pilot Hank Hogan, and they have been mainly responsible for also defeating various invasion attempts by the Mekon, a super intelligent artificially created being from Venus, who is currently being held prisoner on the Moon. Only after a brief stint as Earth President, when he brainwashed the people into electing him and declaring Dan Dare a subversive. Dan sorted him out though, man of action that he is.

Which is sort of the problem as we catch up to Dan now. Earth is experiencing something of a golden age, peaceful, prosperous, flourishing environment etc, and Dan is just a little bored. He visits he imprisoned Mekon, who makes the disturbing point that he didn’t actually ‘make’ people vote for him, he merely manipulated them into it. No different from the advertising we are exposed to, and perhaps a little jab at a certain American President…Dan, lacking purpose it seems, is happy to visit the Mekon, as he was the only one who argued for his imprisonment. Everyone else wanted him executed, but Dan believed he could be rehabilitated. Naive? Perhaps. Well meaning? Most certainly. The Mekon of course would probably kill him in the blink of an eye.

Or would he. Several years have passed since he was imprisoned, and the Mekon wants Dan to believe he has rehabilitated. And has taken up gardening. Hmmmm. Although tough to believe anyway, it’s even harder to believe when a terrorist cell, The Mekon Liberation Army, turn up to free him. Amazingly, he not only refuses their help, he tells them to disband and tears them a new one over ruining his marrows. Yep. The Mekon is most definitely, on hundred percent not evil anymore. Or he has another, better plan. Milligan ain’t saying just yet. The irony is Dan Dare is lost without his old foe, stuck doing paperwork. Which is probably why Dan may just perk up when he learns a colossal spacecraft has just appeared, destroyed the planetoid Titan, and is en route to Earth. Be careful what you wish for…

This was a great first issue, which did a good job of introducing most of the characters and where they find themselves. Milligan did a great job of capturing Dan Dare’s personality, idealistic in the vein of Captain America, or Superman, and of marrying the traditional strip with some new ideas like the rehabilitated Mekon. The issue also retained the fun of those old strips. The art and colouring actually suited this shiny, new take, not too cartoony but very traditional panels and layouts. Looked nice.

A relaunch that more than does the character, and its history, justice and great fun to boot. Can’t ask for more than that.

****½  4.5/5

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