blogging by Andrew Wickliffe


Dan Dare (2007) #7


Dd7

I’m going to assume Dan Dare had a future-sword in the original comics or whatever, because otherwise, writer Garth Ennis has even more to answer for.

This final issue is oversized, which I’d been gleefully anticipating, but it turns out it’s too long. It’s fluffed up with lots of double-page spreads and it’s still too long. Worse, Ennis reuses entire bits from previous issues for that fluffing. The issue flops around quite a bit, with Ennis and artist Gary Erskine both at fault, but Ennis not having enough story is the real problem.

Erskine draws some repetitive space battle scenes—all the ships look alike, so while occasionally visually impressive, it’s not visually interesting. There are occasional fighter spaceship scenes, which end up being where Erskine comes through. It’s nice he’s got something he clicks with because—pretty much everything else—he doesn’t.

The issue’s split between Dan boarding the Mekon’s ship for the final showdown, which Erskine renders like Luke and the Emperor in Jedi because Ennis doesn’t give him anything else to do, Dan’s newest companion, Lieutenant Christian, commanding his flagship in the space battle, and Jocelyn back on Earth, getting drunk and waiting to hear whether humanity’s conquered.

The best subplot is Christian’s, which has her butting heads with an admiral who’s never been in a space battle but thinks he ought to be in command. The Dan plot, before it goes Jedi (without a Vader), is essentially a repeat of a couple issues ago, just with the same characters in different parts. Erskine utterly flubs the showdown between Dan and the Mekon, too, though—again—it’s not his fault Dan’s got a sword, and it’s not his fault Ennis doesn’t have a showdown.

Then Jocelyn’s whining is weird because it’s all about future history after the original Dan Dare and before this series when the newly formed British Neo-Nazis want his support with Brexit or something. It’s utterly superfluous world-building just when the comic’s closing up.

Ennis and Erskine still get in a few good scenes and moments, mainly when it’s a war comic, sometimes when it’s dealing with the “Dare as legend.” Most of the issue is just hoping it never gets too bad or too visually confusing. Erskine lacks continuity between panels, first occasionally, then all of them. It’s like the pages got lettered in the wrong order.

I’d forgotten how Dare ends—I do remember waiting forever for the final issue, which would’ve been one of Virgin Comics’s last publications—and I know why I’d much rather remember the series’s successes than its failures. It’s not a terrible last issue, but it’s not a good one, either.


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