Art by Gary Eskine
Virgin comic? attempt to bring back Dan Dare has landed the Indian based creative outlet a lot of mainstream publicity. However, even the casual comics fan will know that this was not the first attempt to re-vamp the 50? space hero whose jaw is so large has its own gravity force. 2000AD in the 70?, and the re-launched Eagle in the 80? both saw different versions of Dan Dare on their pages. Most controversially, Grant Morrison wrote a bleak overtly political satire in the 90? for Revolver. On the strength of this first issue, Garth Ennis and Gary Eskine could outshine all of those attempts in what is arguably one of the best sci-fi releases of the year.
The countless plot threads from these reimaginings are skipped over, with some nods to the grittier 2000AD work in tone. Instead, we have a 10 years later scenario. Dan is in seclusion, his muched loved International Space Fleet is gone, replaced by a British Space Fleet that gained power through the sorry demise of its former allies. The threat of the Treens?/strong> and the Mekon still remains, creating an obvious parallel for the war on terror.
Ennis? dialogue is perfect in setting the tone, with the traditional archetypes being turned into leaders and politicians, resentful of those who use their heroism for political ends. This is not Grant Morrison? overt satire on Thatcherism, but politics has made its way into this Dan Dare. A Prime Minister responsible for restoring Britain to intergalactic prominence, but unable to give up his seat of power will ring very familiar. The scenes where Dare shows him and the reader what it really means to be British create a fantastic discourse on the relationship between soldiers and politicians. Dan Dare himself is almost portrayed as some mythic figure, the spirit of the British war hero made flesh. Some may find this off-putting, but Ennis needed to make Dan Dare relevant, and has done so by juxtapositioning the idealism of the 50? comic against the real-politick of modern international relations.
Eskine builds upon his sublime Ministry of Space, with fantastic spacecraft and brilliantly posed characters whose posture and facial expressions recall the original Eagle strip in a similar way to his pervious work. His style makes him the perfect choice for this book, and he takes his concepts of 50? futurism to new levels. The action is portrayed brilliantly, creating an epic feel through the space battle scenes. It is the colour and ink that mark this out as a modern work, with the ships in particular looking fresh and new.
Nothing to get angry or feel wary of, this should be read and enjoyed by even the mildly curiousz/p>