Éire Ghaelach – Éire Shaor
For a man, or woman, of a certain age, the name ‘Dan Dare’ can still inspire a wistful sort of longing for a bygone era of Sci-Fi comics, where the good guys wore white, the bad guys black, and the world was a helluva simpler place. So it was joyous news for many of us geek reprobates way back in 2004 when cult publisher par excellent, Titan Books, announced the reissue of a whole line of classic Dan Dare adventures dating from the 1950s onwards.
Here was a slew of Dare adventures in wonderful technicolor glory, bound in beautiful, themed hardback covers. And what a joy it was – and is. While many of Dare’s contemporaries have aged badly the old star-captain still manages to hold his own with the younger kids on the block. In part, perhaps large part, it is due to the gorgeous, full-colour artwork of Frank Hampson. It really does sing off the pages and makes every adventure come alive the way so few others of that era have managed to do so. Ok, the stories perhaps haven’t aged as well. The dialogue is clunky, the characters are one-dimensional (or worse yet, are racial or national stereotypes) and the storylines are often not great shakes either. Yet the adventures by and large do hold one’s attention, the artwork is so sumptuous one simply pours over it and the ideas so retro-kitsch as to be simply engaging. The frequent anachronisms and un-PC attitudes or pronouncements are easily forgiven, for truly, as in the best comics, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
If you love old style Sci-Fi, and old style comics (and the Mekon!), then the ‘Classic Dan Dare’ series is for you. Choose carefully for some are better than others. But above all it is the artwork, and the beautifully bound and presented collections from Titan, that make this series worthy of any serious collector – or fan. They LOOK simply gorgeous and do your bookcase proud. Personally I’m waiting for Dan Dare’s resuscitated adventures from the 1970s and the days of Starlord and 2000AD. And if you remember Starlord then you belong in a very exclusive club indeed!
Dan Dare’s first adventure, ‘Classic Dan Dare: Voyage to Venus Part 1’, is available from all good retailers and online here. Or check out Garth Ennis’ ‘ re-imagined’ Dan Dare adventures, where the 20th century hero is given a 21st century makeover (to mixed results) here .