Outside of Spaceship Away, poor Dan Dare hasn’t had much luck since the eighties. The most recent comic reboot made for a poor comic, never mind poor Dan Dare. The animated series was a thing that happened and the Virgin comics reboot at the hands of Garth Ennis made for, and I’m being polite here, clumsy reading.
It’s not been a complete write off though! Grant Morrison and Rian Hughes’ Controversial Memoirs Of Dan Dare is absolutely excellent and a personal fave. It’s sort of a proto-Scarlet Traces (which is also excellent), mixing a traditional scifi tale with some especially scathing digs at the establishment.
Memoirs is an angry story – angry at over a decade of Tory stewardship, angry at those complicit, angry at a system that makes people complicit. It’s remarkable how cleanly it bookends the Dan Dare story considering, largely by virtue of knowing that if you’re going to punch, punch up. By knowing which side Dan Dare needs to fall on.
It’s worth remembering how explicitly anti-fascist the very first Dare story was, a parable on the wrongs of doing nothing when there’s harm being done.
To Morrison’s credit, the Dare here feels very much like the Dare of Hampson’s creation, the Dare who battled to keep people safe, albeit one caught outside of their better days.
Over the years Dare might have lurched from those beginnings to various shades of action hero but Morrison puts Dare back where he began, with more than a little help from his friends.