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‘Dan Dare Vol. 1: He Who Dares’ TPB (review)

Dan Dare Vol. 1: He Who Dares TPB
Written by Peter Milligan
Illustrated by Alberto Foche
Published by Titan Comics
ISBN: 9781785861475
Released 4/24/18 / $16.99

 

Dan Dare, Pilot of the Future is a sci-fi version of Biggles, the quintessential British flying hero, mixed with a pinch of Buck Rogers and a dash or two of Flash Gordon.

He’s had his own radio show and his own cartoon show but he’s best known for his 17-year run in the 1950s and ‘60s British comic weekly, Eagle.

Seems like someone is always convinced that this legendary space hero needs to be revived and yet that never really seems to quite work out.

Case in point is Peter Milligan’s revival at hand, with art by Alberto Foche.

Milligan—one of the most successful modern British comics creators (with many US credits to his name including a run on Batman)—manages to revive at least some of the feel of the original.

The problem, of course, is that the original’s phenomenal success beginning in 1950 depended on England’s post-war mood. As the ‘60s dawned and the UK became the new focal point of style and music, Dan Dare’s old-fashioned sensibilities in a future setting just didn’t speak to the reader anymore.

The very Briticisms that make Dan Dare “Dan Dare” come across almost as parody when done today without any sense of irony. This particular Guardians of the Galaxy-style space opera brings back Dan and most of his old mates and teams them up with a very modern blue feminist alien for a bit of culture clash between conservative and liberal, old and new.

The other thing that made Dan Dare “Dan Dare”, of course, was the Mekon.

Memorable to any who ever saw the strip, the Mekon is a dwarf-like bald green alien with a watermelon-sized super-brain. As Dan’s arch-enemy—and easily the most interesting character in the whole strip—he returned regularly over all the earlier incarnations and he’s here again, as well! Only…he’s emasculated.

Early on in the book, we find the Mekon imprisoned but mellowed and reformed, leaving Dan moping around throughout the story, longing for the excitement he used to have when the Mekon was trying to take over the galaxy.

All his friends try to convince good ol’ Dan that the Mekon is faking it but, despite lingering doubts, he maintains his faith and is shown over and over again to be in the right!

The Mekon really HAS reformed!

As much as they clash with the series raison d’etre, the various scenes with Dan interacting with the Mekon are the most interesting throughout.

Everything eventually leads up to a rather anti-climactic climax and an ending that was telegraphed from the get-go but seemed far too long in coming. Milligan manages to leave enough loopholes, though, so it’s entirely possible that we may find out in the next volume that things actually aren’t at all what they seem.

Bottom line: Personally, I think Dan Dare, Pilot of the Future, works better in the past, but if they have to revive it, this is an admirable effort and an unusual, enjoyable mix of styles that almost actually works.

If you’ve never read Dan Dare before, you won’t appreciate it fully, but still a good read.

Booksteve Recommends.

 

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