I’ve never read any Dan Dare besides this series. I assume it’s some British Silver Age book about British derring-do in a sci-fi setting. So I don’t know if writer Garth Ennis is doing some homage with the pacing of this issue or just the plotting of the series in general.
Here’s what the first issue promised: retired space adventurer Dan Dare coming back to save the galaxy (colonized by the British, natch) from the Mekon, his old enemy (and presumably the main villain in the original Dare comics).
So far, the series has delivered: a traitor Prime Minister, Dare, and sidekick Digby stranded on a hostile alien world full of monsters. No galaxy saving from Dan, just people saving.
In this issue, Ennis reveals that anti-whatever plotting is intentional and will continue. He leans heavily on using talking heads scenes to fill in the backstory. The issue opens with the Prime Minister and the Mekon, who’s a silly-looking fifties alien but terrifying in his brevity. He seems to have some psychic control over a sizeable percentage of the population (both aliens and humans, including the PM), but it’s unclear. You wouldn’t want to ask him.
Ennis splits the issue between the Mekon, the Home Secretary on Earth, as she uncovers the plot to sell out humanity, and Dan on the alien planet with the monsters. Things are getting grim for Dan, which is precisely where they’re supposed to be but also not. The plan needs Dan to be somewhere else; no one could predict he’d try to save some dumbass colonists because they haven’t read the old Dan Dare either.
It’s a fantastic mix of wild sci-fi, political thriller, and British colonial action, with one heck of a tense finale. Ennis and artist Gary Erskine deliver a dynamite (no pun) close to the first (informal) arc. Presumably, the series will reset itself going forward, though I also have no idea because Ennis is very unpredictable here. Delightfully so.
Erskine seems rushed at times—though the incredibly boring alien ships don’t help; hopefully, it doesn’t trend. Dan’d survive it just fine (even rushed, Erskine’s solid), but still. He’s got some very enthusiastic panels; the more, the better.
Dare’s a damn fine book.