Dan Dare
Grant Morrison's Dan Dare
Medium: comic
Year: 1990
Keywords: Dan Dare, SF
Writer: Grant Morrison
Artist: Rian Hughes
Country: UK
Format: 73 pages
Website category: Comics
Review date: 11 August 2021
dan dare
England is a police state, run by a Maggie Thatcher stand-in (Gloria Monday) and it's become every kind of miserable 1980s caricature. Dan Dare is a pensioner with a walking stick who'll let himself get talked into helping Gloria Monday get re-elected. Peabody commits suicide. Digby is still very Northern, so you can guess where he stands on all this. Sir Hubert is evil.
It's all... well, it's a bit obvious, to be honest.
There's no shock value, because it's so obviously hell-bent on misanthropic bleakness from the start. You don't really care what happens. Everything's depressing, everything's horrible and the only point of reader interest is the academic question of whether Morrison will allow any flicker of light in the darkness. Dare himself is still an idealist. He lets himself get talked into helping evil, because he's not political and he didn't know the truth. His eyes will be opened. You can deceive him and even (perhaps) kill him, but you can't corrupt him. He finds a way to win, ultimately, but you'd have to be crazy to call it a happy ending.
Hughes's art is more interesting than the script. It's pop art. Simple, striking and a little bit abstract. I could occasionally have wanted more character acting, especially in Dan and Digby's argument in the park, but it's still fun to see this juxtaposition of art style and story tone. Hughes also gets one big thing right, which you might think was obvious but has eluded all the other post-Eagle revivals I've seen. The characters look like themselves! Dare is Dare. Digby is Digby. They've been reinvented in this art style, of course, but it's still them.
(The most accurate post-Eagle Dan Dare I've seen, though, is John Ridgway's in the 1991 Comic Relief Comic. I haven't read the Spaceship Away 'zine, though.)
Did I like this Revolver/Crisis 1980s-published-in-1990 effort? Not really, although I prefer its art to later revivals. Did I enjoy it? Hah, obviously not. It doesn't even come alive as a story, really. There's a mystery element, with Peacock's suicide, but Morrison's agenda is so obvious that you're simply waiting for the inevitable worst. You don't care about the cast, for the same reason. It is, though, bold and different from anything else that's been done with the character.