Dan Dare
Peter Milligan's Dan Dare
Medium: comic
Year: 2017
Keywords: Dan Dare, SF
Writer: Peter Milligan
Artist: Alberto Foche
Country: UK
Format: Four 22-page episodes
Website category: Comics
Review date: 16 August 2021
dan dare
It's very good. Milligan's take goes up against Morrison's and Ennis's and in no way comes off worse. It's just a shame about the art, really.
Milligan's always been a thoughtful writer. Here, he's examining the Mekon. Our green villain gets elected as World President and then kicked out in a colour revolution, making it three out of three for modern Dan Dare revivals that get political. (That's just the ones I've read, though. There are others.) After that, though, Dare argues against execution at the Mekon's trial, saying things like, "That would make us as bad as he is." (Oh, and incidentally I do mean "colour revolution", not "counter". They were in the air at the time.)
That was eye-rolling. Dan Dare is a military man and the Mekon's a dictatorial tyrant who's started wars against mankind.
That's just set-up, though. Dan gets the Mekon sent for rehabilitation... and it works. Possibly. Perhaps. You never know with the Mekon, but he's a super-genius and not without self-awareness. "I know I mocked you all those years ago. I mocked everything. That was how I was genetically engineered to be. I was created to be evil. You of all people know that. The question is, do I have the ability or willpower to change? Or did my engineers predestine how my life must be?"
This Dan-Mekon relationship is fascinating. I remembered the moments in the Eagle where it seemed almost sexual. The Mekon is this Dan's closest friend, despite the comparatively understated presence of Digby, Peabody and the others. Dan decides to trust him, although there will be times when he questions or regrets this choice. At one point, he realises that he's bored without the Mekon being evil. It's cool. I really like what Milligan's doing here.
Unlike other revivals, this Dare isn't an elderly icon whose glory days are long gone. He's a teenage rebel. Sometimes, he looks twelve. We're expected to believe that he's a colonel (eh?) with all that history with the Mekon (eh?), yet the gang's all young, fresh and ready for new adventures.
You might have noticed that my problem with this mini-series is the art. It's strong, mind you. The character acting is good and it's always fun and dynamic. Foche's Mekon has teeth and looks adorable, but he fits the story being told. It is, though, once again clearly not Dan Dare. Someone, somewhere, clearly decided that you couldn't sell an SF adventure story that stars an odd-looking bloke in his thirties. I cry bullshit. Why revive a classic property if you're going to piss all over the iconography, which with Dan is: (a) the Mekon, and (b) Dan's face. Hampson's Dan Dare has one of the best faces in comics. He looks like an ironic chisel, especially given Those Eyebrows. This, on the other hand, is a child who can't have his claimed military rank.
The last page says "end of book one", but no. It ended here.
I like this mini-series. I'm a Peter Milligan fan and he didn't disappoint me. He's doing new, thoughtful things with Dan Dare, while being true to the character. He's acknowledging the original Eagle continuity, even to the (unnecessary) extent of including Flamer. That said, though, I just look at the pages and say "no". That's not Dan Dare. I'm baffled by the refusal to draw the guy properly in today's comics.