Dan Dare
Dan Dare: Mission of the Earthmen
Medium: comic
Year: 1960
Keywords: Dan Dare, SF
Writer: Eric Eden
Artist: Don Harley, Gerry Palmer
Country: UK
Format: 24 two-page episodes, The Eagle Vol.11 No.29-52
Website category: Comics UK
Review date: 25 June 2021
dan dare
The storyline's quite good. It feels like a throwback to the old days, with Dan Dare getting involved in far more interesting and morally sophisticated situations than fight, shoot, etc.
The planet Zyl is populated by arrogant sons-of-bitches. When Dan and Digby visit, they use them as guinea pigs. "We must carry out further experiments on these newcomers to our planet. So far, we have proved that they have great physical endurance. But what of their minds?"
"Surely they are primitive by our standards, Zonad?"
"Exactly! But how primitive? What, for example, is their reaction when faced with imminent death?"
Before long, though, Dan and Digby are in the hands of warring barbarians on the neighbouring planet of Vort. Do they fight? No. They build a wheelbarrow to teach their captors about mechanisation. They explain to defeated foes that there's an alternative to extermination. "We are traders, not killers. We have no wish to take your life."
Then, when rescue arrives, Dan refuses to be rescued. "The Vortans seem to regard war as some kind of amusement. I'm going to spoil their fun."
The story still doesn't feel right to me, though. The dialogue feels flat. To me, Eden's scripts just don't breathe. As for the art, the pencilling's good, but the finished art feels simple and sometimes plain. It lacks the texture of a Hampson or a Bellamy. The Vortans look cool, though, and I liked the REALLY BIG giant tortoise.
It's a Hampson-esque story, which is a delight after the creative desert we'd been through recently. It does a lot in its page count. (Had this story happened ten years ago, it would have lasted a year and a half. That version would have had far more worldbuilding and meatier scripts, though.) I don't mind this one, but to be honest it's still not great.