09th Jan2018

‘Dan Dare #4’ Review (Titan Comics)

by Dean Fuller

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


With this issue the first story arc of the Dan Dare relaunch comes to a close. Or reimagining I guess, as Peter Milligan has chosen to change the relationship between Dan and The Mekon. At least on the surface. What I’ve enjoyed up to now is the air of uncertainty over everything. Is The Mekon genuinely good now? Is Dan being played, or are everyone else being unfair? Is Au Taween right that they are crazy to leave The Mekon alive? It has been fun for sure.

Last issue left us with quite the cliffhanger, would Au Taween kill The Mekon, despite Dan’s attempt to stop her. Dan feels more than ever that he owes The Mekon, after The Mekon formulated a cure for the virus that was killing Dan, Digby, and Professor Peabody. Of course, The Mekon created the virus in the first place to disable the Treen ship, so may have intended this chain of events all along. That Milligan, with his wonderful sprinkles of uncertainty over everything, the reader is as confused as the characters. Time to see how this all plays out.

Well, I never saw that coming. Au Taween does indeed fire, Dan is going to be hit and probably killed as he steps in front of The Mekon, until The Mekon pushes him out the way and takes the laser beam full in the chest. Stone dead. Yep. The Mekon is dead, sacrificing himself to save Dan Dare. Is this still part of some plan? Hmmm. Earth celebrates the news, ding dong The Mekon is dead. Of course, it never stops there. His body is being held on The Moon, while decisions are made on what to do with it, and some enterprising criminals have decided that they would like to get the body. The black market in alien body parts is apparently quite buoyant it seems. The gang hit the base.

The base of course still contains Dan and Au Taween, the alien princess now imprisoned and on hunger strike. Her anger against Treens is as strong as ever, and although Dan tells her she can be rehabilitated too, helped to cope with previous traumas, she makes a good point. All those therapies are good for humans, but not aliens like her. Or The Mekon. She has no doubt he was playing them all along, and still is. A trip to see the dead body is called for, unfortunately just as the body-snatcher gang attack. Can Dan save the day? Nope, The Mekon does. Say what now? Seems The Mekon was in a form of Treen hibernation while his body repaired itself. Good news? Dan thinks so. But is this till part of the plan? Damn you Milligan.

So time for a nice wrap up then. Er, not quite. Au Taween does take off, to continue her one woman crusade to rid the universe of the Treen, and Dan doesn’t accept her kind offer to tag along. He falls back into his routine, until a couple of things turns everything on its head. Firstly, the original Treen signal has been decoded, and it is calling The Mekon to return to his people. Secondly, The Mekon has vanished. Which is nearly as upsetting as his destruction of that marrow garden. I loved those marrows. So, Dan was played all along. Or was he? Has The Mekon actually gone to stop the Treen? Damn you, Milligan, you had to play with us to the last didn’t you. Well played, Sir.

This was both a great issue to tie up the first four, and a nice springboard to set up future events. Milligan has cleverly given us the illusion of change, through very smart writing, though not actually changing much. All the pieces are still in play, as is the uncertainty over The Mekon. Great scripting. Albert Foche’s art was as great as always, that timeless, clean sci-fi style with perfect layouts. Loved those sketches at the end of the issue too. Great work all.

It would be very hard not to appreciate the work on this book. Milligan and Foche could have phoned in a standard relaunch of a very well known character, but they chose the hard way, the creatively engaging and great to read way. It shows. This should be on everyone’s pull list.

Blame Foche, but mostly blame Milligan. Damn you, Milligan.

****½  4.5/5


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