Morrison Dares

Another one that's usually flying under the radar.

DARE #1-4, Monster Comics, January to June 1992I'm not from the UK, so I don't really know jack about Dan Dare. I know he's their version of Flash Gordon. I know he was a space adventurer that ran for decades in the boy's magazine The Eagle. I know he's a square-jawed 50s hero. I know he's an icon and has had a huge influence on British science fiction, particularly such TV series as Blake's 7 and Doctor Who. To me, it looks like a cross between Buck Danny and the Thunderbirds. In all honesty, Dan Dare means nothing to me.

So it didn't bother me when Grant Morrison decided to "take the piss" - as he himself calls it - out of the Dare universe. I just don't know how actual Dare fans actually perceived this effort. But the fact that Morrison admits to not knowing much about that universe, and to even hating the 50s heroic ideal, shouldn't inspire confidence. Nice art though. Love the retro look and Big Ben under glass:
The story of "The Controversial Memoir of Dan Dare, Pilot of the Future" takes the mythology ahead a number of years and somewhat follows the basic template for such irreverent, revisionist tales. Dan Dare is a fallen hero, wounded during the war. He has had to kill alien children, which has caused a rift between him and his former supporting cast. The government for which he worked is as crooked as they come. It is standard in such tales to show everything that was wholesome as corrupt. We dare you to love Dan Dare now, bitches!

Oh yeah, and you need a deep, dark secret. There is one. Poor Professor Peabody offs herself before the series starts and our hero, currently playing puppet to a Thatcheresque regime, follows the clues, just like CSI. Turns out the Thatcher look-alike has been up to a couple tricks including: Letting the main Dan Dare villain run things from behind the scenes, and turning people into this monstrosity:
That is the rudest piece of science fiction I have seen since the Vervoids menaced Doctor Who. Worse still, it's supposed to look exactly like that since we find out that its a biocomputer producing sexual secretions where they are being consumed as soylent green--I mean "manna". And now we're all pregnant with aliens or something. Yay! If your ol' grandad is collecting all things Dan Dare, I'm pretty sure this is where his day gets ruined.

Spoilers ahead, Dare fans! After that shocker, well, it's back to the standard: Everybody dies. Yep. But here's the twist. Dan Dare sold his body, but he didn't sell his soul. Early on, he set a fission bomb to detonate if he was ever captured and killed. BAM! Here's a look at the explosion.
This is followed by a completely white page. Everything's gone! And then there's this lovely track back.
"'Although I often wished he would, Dan Dare refuses to lie down and die. But that's just what I intend to do now.' - Frank Hampson 1981. Editor's note: Frank Hampson died in July 1985. Dare, Digby and Jocelyn continue their adventures every week in the 'Eagle'."

Wow. I did not expect a patented Morrison "breaking the fourth wall" moment there! With a single page, the tone goes from shitting on an icon to wonderful homage made to a seminal comics creator. Almost redeems the rude biocomputer... But Dan Dare means nothing to me, so I may not be the right person to ask.
Further Morrison reading:
We3
Secret Origins #46
Hellblazer #26

4 comments:

googum said...

I have the first two issues, but have never seen the end. I'm not super-attached to Dare either, but I did enjoy Garth Ennis' take on him for Virgin.

Jack Norris said...

Probably the only time a Garth Ennis take on something was gentler and more affectionate than Grant Morrison's (or pretty much anyone's, really).

Siskoid said...

Now, I REALLY have to check that out.

DrNightmare said...

What is seen cannot be unseen!

*fetal position*

 

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