Dan Dare: THe 2000 aD years Volume One
Dare to be different
released OUT NOW! Publisher rebellion
Writers Pat Mills, steve Moore,
Judge Dredd became the scowling face of 2000 AD, but it had originally banked on another icon to be its flagship hero, resurrecting Frank Hampson’s Pilot of the Future from the pages of Eagle.
It made sense: Dan Dare was a name, redolent of post-war British decency, optimism and adventure. But this was the late ’70s and the future had arrived in shades of A Clockwork Orange, soundtracked by the Sex Pistols and booted in the nuts by Dirty Harry. Punk-fired 2000 AD vaporised everything but the name, the squiggly eyebrows and arch foe the Mekon, retooling Dare as a leaner, meaner proposition, more inclined to yell, “Taste boot-leather, you twoheaded freak!” than “Jumpin’ jets!”
This collection reprints the first half of Dan’s purist-baiting run in the comic (including bonus strips from early annuals and specials). At first he’s Ziggy Stardust after a spell in boot camp: a vicious, pouting starfarer as freaky as his adventures. Massimo Belardinelli’s art is science fiction at the mutational cusp of horror, phantasmagoric and mindblowing, Barbarella after a bad trip.
Dave Gibbons’ stint dials down the high weirdness in favour of streamlined military adventure. This Dan’s an adrenalised Biggles in a flying jacket, a degree closer to Hampson’s original but now commanding a marvellously scurvy bunch of cosmic rogues, Dirty Dozen style. You feel the inescapable shadow of Star Wars the moment he wields a “laser broadsword”. It’s gutsy, thrilling stuff. Fathers may have choked but this was the bionic generation’s Dan Dare. Nick Setchfield
There’s a definite Bowie influence in the Belardinelli strips – Dan’s female sidekick is actually called Ziggy.