Saturday, 5 November 2011

Dan Dare. 2000AD Annual, 1978.

2000AD Annual, 1978, Dan Dare cover
Whoosh! Whizz! Bang! It's Guy Fawkes Night!

And that can only mean one thing

Rockets!

And that can only mean one thing.

Dan Dare!

While America may have had the likes of Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers to protect it from interplanetary menaces, 1950s' Britain had the mighty Dan Dare, a square-jawed, pipe-smoking, rock-fisted defender of the British Empire and Commonwealth, guaranteed to save us all from dastardly aliens and their foreign ways.

Actually I don't know if any of that's true, as I've never read any of the original tales. For all I know he might, back then, have been a rampant communist who spent all his time telling his youthful readers that resistance is futile and we should surrender at once to our rightful Soviet overlords.

None of that matters because I first encountered Dan Dare in the 1970s, in the pages of 2000 AD where he was revived and revamped. Appropriately for such a national institution, it was Dan Dare who kicked off their 1978 Annual.

Dan Dare slime, spaceship, Massimo Belardinelli, 2000AD Annual, 1978
And what an action-packed tale it is. Our hero rushes to stop a spacecraft from crashing into the Earth, discovers its crew are dead, its bridge full of deadly floating slime, then finds himself and the ship transported via black hole to an alien world where a criminal called Mytax has lumped his lot in with a giant, green, winged alien called Solan who appears to be virtually all-powerful.

Mytax might sound like something you'd buy for Athlete's Foot but it soon turns out he's a first-rate heel and, having no sense of good old fashioned English decency, tries to have Solan kill Dan. Pausing only to slaughter a giant monster, Dan ruins everything for everyone before Solan's father turns up to take him away.

Yes, in a twist we've never seen before in any story ever, it turns out the all-powerful alien is only a naughty child who needs a good spanking from his parents.

Dan Dare vs Solan, Massimo Belardinelli, 2000AD Annual, 1978
It might not be the most original tale ever, and its ten pages of non-stop action don't exactly allow an awful lot of room for character development but it does look appealing. There're no credits that I can see but the finely-honed critical instincts that bought you this post, tell me the art's probably by the redoubtable Massimo Belardinelli who was apparently not to everyone's taste on the strip and was dropped from it after a while.

As his art always looked fine to me, I can only assume people's problem was that, in Belardinelli's hands, Dan Dare didn't look overly like Dan Dare. But who cares about that? A pretty picture's a pretty picture and, as Guy Fawkes could've told you...

Erm...

Er...

No. I can't think of anything Guy Fawkes could've told you that has any relevance to this story. But happy Bonfire Night anyway.

And remember, kids, don't blow up Parliament. It's naughty.
Dan Dare is taken home by Solan and his dad while Mytax gets his what-for, Massimo Belardinelli, 2000AD Annual, 1978

7 comments:

Kid said...

Well, wouldn't ya know it? I've got that annual. That typeset lettering was terrible, wasn't it?

Dougie said...

My brother had the 2000 AD subsrciption in our house, so, yep, we had it too. And although that version of Dare looks like it might have been an inspiration for Annie Lennox, I preferred it to the Dave Gibbons look.

(Today's Captcha is "Squea". People seemed to have stopped using that expression.)

Steve W. said...

I don't particularly mind the lettering - I'm sure it all seemed very modern and sci-fi at the time - but the speech balloons themselves do seem quite clumsily drawn around it.

Anonymous said...

Dan Dare was just 'Biggles' in space right? Consequently nowhere near as modern or relevant to a swinging sixties and onwards readership.

John Pitt said...

Bellardinelli's best work was on Ace Garp and, if I remember rightly, he did some decent Slaine as well?

Steve W. said...

Was Ace Garp the alien with the pointy head and big ears? I'm trying to trawl through my mind for memories of his adventures.

John Pitt said...

Sure was! " We's truckin'!" - The Ace Trucking Co. - any time, any place....

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