Dan Dare’s all about the reassuring, calming presence of the capable colonialism and patriarchy (i.e., the British Empire). I have a feeling it’s going to get even more interesting once Anglophiliac Dan Dare returns to active duty.
The original series—the British Buck Rogers—dates back to the fifties, and writer Garth Ennis keeps with the mid-century British colonial mindset, just in the future. I can’t wait for the King or Queen to show up.
So, former space hero Dan Dare has retired to seclusion in a recreation of the British villages of his youth. The originals are presumably all gone because the Americans and Chinese nuked each other; the British had a shield to protect them. Instead of sticking around to help out with the Cursed Earth, the Brits took to colonizing space, presumably running into an evil alien race and getting into space fights.
There’s been peace long enough for Dan and his sidekick, Digby, to retire. Their Girl Friday from back in the day has gone into public office, so we’re not far away from when the original five-year mission ended. It’s an “Old Man Dan Dare” series, a Garth Ennis specialty; only it’s very British and not grim and gritty. Artist Gary Erskine thoughtfully updates mid-century sci-fi designs and keeps it all very English. Even when the Prime Minister is visiting an asteroid on his way to ask Dan for help, you can imagine them having tea and biscuits.
Erskine’s art is good. There are a handful of places he’s in a hurry (Dan Dare’s from Virgin Comics, which barely survived long enough to publish the whole series), but it’s good. Besides some sci-fi space action and Dan walking his adorable dogs, most of the issue is talking heads. Digby and the former Girl Friday having a chitchat on a space station, the Prime Minister and Dan having a philosophical debate about England’s place in the world (running it, if Dan Dare has a say). Erskine does well with all that talking.
Ennis does really well writing it too. Even though the Prime Minister is a dipshit, Dan’s at least a colonialist, if not a monarchist, if not a fascist. It’s going to be interesting to see how Ennis does this character development.
The ending cliffhanger’s solid, while the story is basically a combination of Star Trek 1 and 2 first acts. Got to get the captain back, best destiny, and all that business. Dan Dare’s off to an ace start.