Given how good Mark Millar’s Flash Gordon style comic series Starlight was I had to read Dan Dare #1, out this week from Titan Comics. It has a similar space traveling, alien butt-kicking, laser shooting hero in the lead. Customary of picking up a new series I was completely surprised by the narrative, which has readers questioning the needs of a hero when there are no more villains.
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
The iconic British hero returns for brand-new adventures, written by Peter Milligan with art by Alberto Fouche! For the first time in human history, the solar system is at peace and Dan Dare, pilot of the future, is bored out of his mind – and praying for something to break the monotony of peace. When an unknown alien vessel of biblical proportions arrives in the solar system and obliterates a moon of Saturn in a show of strength, Dare finds himself thrust back into a new adventure that threatens not just Earth – but all life in the entire universe!
Why does this matter?
Peter Milligan and Alberto Foche team up to bring Dan Dare back, but with a twist. This comic is also somewhat politically connected to the world these days, but it also has some great plotting.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
Fair and square I tells ya!
This issue opens with The Mekon becoming the world president and he didn’t have to kill anybody to get it. No, he just manipulated the voters ever so slightly. Ring any bells? This kicks off an interesting story that has Dan Dare reacting to a world that needs him less and less. Milligan probes Dan Dare in interesting ways as he visits Mekon in prison and augments the use of the military. The character writing keeps the character true, but also in a state where he might be lying to himself. As the issue progresses we get to see a side of him even Dare is unfamiliar with which is an interesting premise. This all comes at an opportune time of course and the issue ends with a plot twist that could either thrust this back into the genre it’s always been, or possibly continue to subvert the reader’s expectations.
That is precisely why I enjoyed reading this issue. It deals with tropes we’ve seen, but plays around with them in a way that could go anywhere. Much like reading Batman and knowing Joker will turn eventually you can’t help but think Mekon is pulling a fast one on everyone. Milligan makes it clear he was created to be evil, which makes for an interesting concept to mull over as he proves he can be rehabilitated. The themes in the issue will have you thinking.
Alberto Foche draws a great looking issue with a European sort of style I can’t pin down. Maybe it’s the highly detailed environments or the way characters have a strong anatomically correct look to them, but it’s pleasing to the eye. Mekon is particularly cool looking with his giant green head and tiny body. Speaking of which, the colors by Jordie Escuin Liorach have a great bit of pop that helps make the book feel science fiction in style.
A cool looking contraption.
It can’t be perfect can it?
The story of a hero who needs a villain to fight has certainly been done before and might not be enough to please everyone. I’m holding out hope things continue to go down unfamiliar territory however and Milligan probes the premise in interesting ways.
Those expecting an action comic might be left annoyed as well. Given the title character’s history I can’t say I blame anyone who jumps into this expecting a ton of action, but you’ve been warned!
Is It Good?
Dan Dare ended up making me think about its themes more than I ever expected. You’d think it’d be a pulpy sci-fi action comic, but instead it feels unique in its approach and looks sharp doing it too.
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